Language-based learning disabilities affect anywhere from 15-20% of the adult population.Of those, dyslexia is by far the most common. Whether you’re a parent, a sibling, a teacher, or caretaker; odds are you’ve encountered dyslexia before.
Another less common but equally frustrating condition is dyscalculia. Essentially “dyslexia but with numbers,” people with dyscalculia struggle to solve math problems and other calculations. Not as common as dyslexia, dyscalculia may affect up to 6% of the population.
If you’ve encountered either of these conditions, you’ve witnessed the pain and frustration it brings to a child (or young adult) as they struggle to grasp what seems so easy for others. In your position, you’ve no doubt felt that frustration as well. Dyslexia is a common struggle, however that doesn’t make it any less impactful.
Many of us take for granted our reading or mathematical comprehension. However, for those afflicted, it can be a nightmare. However, there are ways to ease the pain, enhance learning, and most importantly, improve performance.
In most structured learning environments, students only use one or two senses. For example, a student may be reading in a book or listening to a teacher. They may be doing one or both of these at the same time such as following along in a textbook while the teacher speaks.
As the name implies, multisensory learning engages more than these senses. It includes sight, sound, touch, as well as movement (kinesthetic) to convey information. These actions all engage different parts of the brain and can be incredibly effective for students who struggle to learn through traditional instruction.
For adults, you may have experienced multisensory learning already if you’ve ever attended a wine tasting or even a cooking class.If you were to read a book or listen to a podcast devoted to wine,this would more closely mirror a traditional learning environment.Sight and/or sound.
However, a wine tasting encourages participation and interaction. Attendees listen to information about the wine, its origin, or creation. When sampling, participants are instructed to take note of the sight, smell, and taste of the wine for a more immersive experience. An interactive cooking class would function in much the same way.
Multisensory learning for dyslexia operates in a similar fashion by using more than just sight and sound to convey information. By incorporating multiple senses, students engage more of their brain and body in the learning process.
This helps students connect with material in a different way. It can also help them to associate new information with information they already possess. It presents a more immersive experience which engages both verbal and non-verbal problem solving skills.
Lastly, multisensory learning helps students and educators discover the best learning style for that particular individual’s needs.
Multisensory learning can benefit students with both dyslexia and dyscalculia. It is a targeted approach which relies on engaging the students directly in a sequential and systematic fashion. My Multiplication Magic, a multisensory learning approach for learning the facts, is a great lifeboat for those struggling to stay afloat in an ocean of words and numbers.
Sue Bridgman/Founder of My Multiplication Magic