Sex matters when it comes to reading!
Hello and welcome to the third in my series of articles about dyslexia. You can view my earlier blogs here.
In this latest blog, I discuss age and sex related differences in peripheral vision that impact on our children’s ability to read. Dig deeper and you find a ‘double-wammy’ that is happening to many young boys, explaining why girls may have more than twice the visual ability as boys at ten years of age.
Read on below, or listen to the audio version.
Understanding how and why this variance exists could impact on the choices you make about learning environments for your children – inside and outside the classroom. And there are other steps you can take as well to maximise your children’s reading and concentration skills, as well as your own!
When you read the word ‘Confession’, how much can you see?
If you are a ten-year-old boy with dyslexia, you may only be able to see the first four letters, ‘C-o-n-f’. By contrast, if you are a ten-year-old girl with fully integrated brain capacity, you can probably read all ten letters, seeing the whole word ‘C-o-n-f-e-s-s-i-o-n’. That’s more than twice the visual ability between two children exactly the same age.
As a parent, teacher or researcher in this field, most people will agree that boys have more difficulty reading than girls. Focus and concentration then suffer and, not surprisingly, disinterest often prevails.
For me, as a practitioner of vibrational medicine with the Dawson Program, I am aware of two significant contributions to reading difficulties in children, magnified even more so for boys.
- Brain integration
In my earlier blogs, I discussed the concepts of left and right hemispheres of the brain, and the need for full integration to maximise visual ability. I also discuss the potentially controversial notion that this brain integration may be interrupted for many people because of skull bone misalignments, often due to birth trauma.
In addition to the impact of skull bone misalignment and the loss of left and right brain integration, there is also the issue of the development of boys and girls peripheral vision.
- Peripheral Vision
As adults, males and females have different degrees of peripheral vision.
As this diagram demonstrates, both sexes have a central area of vision of great accuracy. From then on, things are different. Men possess an extended area of high level accuracy, and women possess an extended area of peripheral vision. With respect to reading, as children, this reduced peripheral vision in boys impacts greatly.
The full extent of the peripheral vision occurs gradually over time as part of the child’s overall development. Because boy’s vision starts from a smaller span, it will often be behind the development of girls. Eventually, if there is full brain integration, the boy’s vision should develop to the level of the girls. For a word as long as ‘C-o-n-f-e-s-s-i-o-n’ this may not occur until at least 12 years of age.
How does it work?
So why is it that boys have less peripheral vision than girls? In an earlier blog, I discussed the corpus callosum and it’s significant role in the integration of the left and right hemispheres of the brain.
The corpus callosum is a bundle of nerve tissue that sits in between both hemispheres. It seems this is where the difference lies. The size of the male corpus callosum is smaller than the female. This bundle of nerve tissue contains around 200 million nerve fibres that carry electrical impulses that facilitate communication between the two sides of the brain. A smaller mass of nerve tissues can help to explain reduced peripheral vision in males.
According to Cameron Dawson, the founder of the vibrational medicine discipline, the Dawson Program, this difference can be as great as 23%, as this diagram highlights.
A male child with homolateral brain function may have less than half the vision of a female child with full brain integration.
This reduced span of vision for boys does not define dyslexia. But it does exacerbate the condition.
Consider this … what if you have a narrow vision that limits the number of letters that you are able to see. Add to that, homolateral brain function which may cause those few letters to be upside down, or back-to-front or flipping back and forth as your brain tries to integrate itself. Not only can you see less letters, they may also be jumbled up. The level of concentration required to try to manage this situation can then cause the left brain to switch off to save energy, thus leaving only one side of this narrower vision still functioning.
WHAT can you do about it?
Our education systems have many excellent strategies to assist children with dyslexia. This does not solve the problem, but, depending on the skill of the teachers, it may be a very good band-aid for some children.
From my experience, I see two steps that you can take outside the classroom.
- Realign the skull bones
If you have followed my earlier blog, you will have read my explanation, as a practitioner of vibrational medicine, about ‘The 5 Things You Need to Know About Dyslexia and Your Skull Bones’. Repositioning minutely misaligned skull bones can have profound impact on dyslexia and concentration. It can be the pressure caused by this misalignment that creates homolateral brain function. This occurs when the left and right hemispheres do not communicate and integrate fully. The Dawson Program includes protocols that work to correct this misalignment through the use of sound frequencies.
Once the skull bones have been realigned, then a major impediment should be removed from a child’s reading development. Any remedial reading and learning activities that have been introduced should have improved impact once the brain is working in an integrated manner. You may also see improvement in eye/hand co-ordination activities.
- Find other ways to explore and learn
Recognising that boys have reduced peripheral vision to girls also means acknowledging that reading in its traditional form in these earlier years may not be the most appropriate major tool for learning. This is where so many of the other learning tools available can play a major role in helping to keep focus and maintain an interest in learning. Using rhythm, rhyme, artwork, 3-D construction, illustrative learning and physical activity are all heralded by many teachers as excellent learning tools for so many concepts which might otherwise be presented in the written word.
Understanding why the written word often does not work for boys in their early years might be cause for relief for some parents. I hope so.
In the next blog, I will give more detail about the Dawson Program, in the lead up to the training course that will be held in Brisbane in September and October this year. If you would like to be kept informed or register for this upcoming workshop, please send me a FB message.
In the meantime, remember … let nature be the doctor.