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Sometimes the biggest part of a problem is under the surface. Largely unnoticed like the mass of an iceberg, and for children who struggle with reading, just as destructive.

When we dug into the data collected from our online dyslexia test what we found was shocking and told a very scary truth. Something all parents should pay attention to. Especially if their child is struggling in reading or any other academic.

Recently we realized that we had collected some very important data that might help others in remediating reading difficulties. Investigating the data has revealed some very surprising data points as well as some extremely concerning statistics. We think that making this information public can be of great help for parents of struggling readers and professionals alike. We hope it helps you

TLDR Version

The data collected shows some very interesting and in some cases alarming statistics

  • About 85% are showing signs of Extreme Anxiety. This is very alarming. If a child is experiencing anxiety learning anything is nearly impossible. If, on the other hand, confidence is high, children operate at peak performance and don't give up until they master what they set out to do.  There are well-established methods of reducing anxiety and building confidence. So there is no need for children to experience this fear state. Unfortunately, the data seems to point to this anxiety being overlooked as a part of the problem and eliminating it as a part of the solution.
  • It appears that a majority of those with reading difficulties may have problems that at least in part, root in visual-kinesthetic skills.
  • 58% of the subjects were girls. This is surprising because statistics show 80% of dyslexics to be boys. There could be a variety of reasons for this but the numbers are brow raising
  • Proprioception difficulties correlate with reading struggles. Actually, this is not surprising at all. We've known this for decades and fortunately, neuroscience has recently caught up with our discovery. 

 

About The Data

All data were collected through our Online Dyslexia Screener.  This online questionnaire asks parents about their children's quality of reading, emotional responses, self-esteem, as well as other possible indicators of dyslexia. Parents are then instantly emailed a full report based upon their responses. The report is designed to lead them to understand what may be causing their child's reading difficulty and possible solutions. Solutions include strategies for eliminating negative emotions and anxiety as we have found that these exist in the majority of children suffering from reading struggles.

There were 1050 respondents in total. Respondents came in majority from online searches. Most for terms such as "dyslexia test". Others had searched on terms related to reading difficulties. A minority of respondents came from social media with the bulk of those from Pinterest. Many had searched on Pinterest for the term "dyslexia Test" or similar. A smaller minority came from other social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

We do not know if the respondents were dyslexic or not. We do know that they are having reading difficulty. The term dyslexia has a lot of semantic problems. What is important to us is how we can help those with reading difficulties and we do not wish to get into arguments about what is "truly dyslexia". 

All information is anonymized. After the report is emailed to the parent the personal data is removed from the server where the data is collected. We are only presenting statistical data here and do not retain the reports emailed to parents.

The ages of the participants vary.

2.4% of respondent had children who were 5 or under. At this age, it is likely that the problems experienced are not problems at all but merely the child not reaching a necessary level of development.

The instructions clearly state that the screener is designed for children but from the responses, we can see that 24.6% of respondents were 18 or over.

These facts will clearly skew the results to some unknown degree. However, we believe that the statistics are still extremely telling.

We can also see that if we exclude the over 18 respondents the mode is at age 7. This makes sense as this is a typical age where signs of a specific reading disability will typically begin to be noticed. 449 respondents were 13 plus leaving 600, or 57.2%,  in the 12 and under group

 

Here's The Data

Data Point #1 - The Respondents Children Were Smarter Than Average  :-/

91% of respondents said their child was very intelligent!

Okay,  we'll be the first to admit that we likely did not somehow attract only parents of the hyper-intelligent. I mean, it's possible, but I'm putting my money on it. We might have a wee little bit of Lake Wobegon Effect going on here. So this is not actually a data point at all. It just gives us a little better idea who the respondents are.  

We can reason a couple of things

  1. The children were not mentally retarded in any way. So more likely specific learning disabilities rather than any intelligence handicap
  2. The parents are looking for the positive in their children. A very good sign and one of the first steps in resolving the problem. That's fantastic!

 Question Asked: Does your child seems very intelligent but has difficulty with reading, writing, spelling, or math?

 

 

 

A Higher Percentage Of Visual Problems Than Auditory Problems

 

 

Data Point #2 - An Extremely High Percentage Of Visual-Kinesthetic System Issues - Some Easily Corrected

 

This we found extremely interesting and it may point to an easy solution at least for some.

This first question was about questions that relate to visual tracking and visual efficacy. Visual tracking is mostly about the eye muscles. Without good visual tracking, all sorts of problems will arise in reading and other academics. Because the eye's need to be stable for the brain to process what it is receiving it can cause terrible attention difficulties. Because there is so much cognitive load then other types of cognitive processing become overload. This results in a lack of comprehension and fatigue. Basically, the student is doing everything they can just to "see" the words on the page.

Yet despite all this correcting visual tracking is generally very easy to do. Of all of the micro-skills of learning it is the fastest and the easiest to correct. For some, it is all that is necessary to completely correct academic problems. That's not the norm but it does happen.

What is alarming here is that most of the time when a student is struggling with reading they are either assigned more reading practice which may be a recipe for disaster. Or they are started on an auditory remediation program or phonics. Largely due to the misinformation floating around that all dyslexia is auditory based. 

True, auditory processing issues can be and are very often a part of the problem or the whole problem. That can be seen in some of the data further down this page. The problem is that by not considering that visual processing and especially the evidently highly prevalent visual tracking problem parents may be missing a big early win. And early wins are critical to solving this problem. They produce the confidence needed for both the parent and the child to keep moving forward. 

Notice in the survey results below that a whopping 72.8% said their child loses their place or skips lines and 57% said their child uses their finger to track lines. Both are strong signs of visual tracking problems. Additionally, 19.3 said letters or words jumped. Visual tracking can be the cause or contribute to this symptom as well. 

And strikingly only 14.5% had none of these symptoms.

With that data, I would think strengthening visual tracking and visual efficacy would be the first line of attack for all remediation programs. We certainly put a lot of visual tracking and visual efficacy early on in the Learning Success System and sometimes parents get lucky and that's all they need. Love it when it's that easy.

Additionally strengthening peripheral vision can go a long way in remediating this problem.

There is a very large amount of "information" on the web stating that "dyslexia" is always an auditory or language processing problem. There are some problems with those statements. Especially because everyone seems to have a different definition of what dyslexia is. Obviously, brain differences and auditory processing problems can be the problem, but not always. This misinformation may prevent parents from looking into visual-kinesthetic remediations which are very simple and inexpensive and in some cases can often quickly eliminate the problem.

 

Question Asked: Does your child have any of these problems while reading? Check all that apply

 

 

Notice also that in the next question, which is related to other visual processing skills that only 12.9% of respondents said that they had none of these problems. So presumably 87% did have problems in this area. These problems are more related to other visual processing skills such as visual closure, visual discrimination, and visual memory but can also relate to visual tracking. Some of these are related to what is referred to as attentional dyslexia

 

 

Question Asked: Does your child experience any of these reading problems? Check all that apply.

And the following question could relate to visual processing as well. But more than anything just says that there is a problem somewhere and that problem is causing too much cognitive load.

 

Question Asked: Does your child have any of these reading comprehension problems?

As does this question. 46% of respondents said their child had actual physical symptoms related to visual processing

 

 Question Asked: Physical Symptoms

With 31.6% saying there was light sensitivity. This may be a clue that Irlen syndrome is a part of the problem for these respondents.

 

Question Asked: Is your child light sensitive? Especially under fluorescent lights

 

 

"Self-Esteem And Anxiety A Massive Problem" 

Data Point #3 - This Is The Scary Part

 

The really scary part here is the high percentage of respondents who said their children exhibited traits related to extremely high anxiety. Strangely slightly more parents marked these traits than marked traits of low self-esteem or low self-confidence. This is exactly the reverse of what we would expect. Low self-confidence would begin to develop before anxiety over academic activities. Since confidence and self-esteem diminish before anxiety responses we would expect a lot of responses of low self-esteem and fewer responses indicating anxiety. That's not what we got. Just over half said their child was experiencing poor self-esteem yet the majority marked responses that would indicate their children were experiencing a high anxiety state. 

This may suggest that some parents are not attributing the acting out to the root cause of diminished confidence. .Confidence so low it is morphing into fear.

Here are the self-esteem related questions. 

 

Question Asked: Does your child have any of these emotional self-esteem problems?

 

And here are questions that would relate to fear and anxiety. A very low number of respondents, less than 15%, marked responses that would indicate their child was not experiencing anxiety. So presumably 85% of these children are experiencing extreme fear and anxiety. The numbers may be higher since the respondent may have marked symptoms on one question but not another.

This is a huge problem. These children will find it nearly impossible to learn anything in this mental state. They are in an amygdala hijack. The learning parts of their brain are completely shut off due to being in a fight or flight response. Continuing to practice academics is going to further exacerbate their fear and make it harder and harder to solve the problem once an effective solution has been started

 

Question Asked: Does your child do any of the following?

 

Question Asked: Does your child have any of these attentional problems?

 

Question Asked: Does your child have any of these physical symptoms?

 

Question Asked: Does your child exhibit any of these traits?

Question Asked: Is your child extremely orderly or extremely disorderly?

 

When trying to solve a problem understanding and acknowledging what the true problem is obviously critical. Yet often this simple truth gets overlooked. As this data shows, anxiety may be the biggest problem when trying to help a child overcome a reading struggle. 

We've known for a very long time that anxiety was a big issue. That it blocked almost all learning. And we've seen many children overcome their learning challenges simply by building up confidence.

These days there is a lot of knowledge around how to build up confidence. There is an abundant amount of conclusive evidence on effective methods coming from neuroscience. There are countless professionals (including so many teachers) who understand how to develop confidence in children. And not to mention the ancient Kung Fu traditions that Liz and I learned our skills from and have used to very effectively build confidence in thousands of individuals.

Simply stated, this is a solvable problem.

Does it mean that building confidence will cure the underlying learning disability? Probably not! But remediating the difficulty without first building confidence is nearly impossible. It must be a core component of any program.

And there are at least some kids labeled as learning disabled who are not at all disabled but instead have a confidence problem. How do I know? Because I was one of them. In my first years in school, I was placed in remedial classes. Yet I had no learning disability. I was simply suffering from extreme social anxiety. Shyness. In first grade, I was labeled as learning disabled. In second grade I was being moved up a grade. First-hand experience and I still remember every moment of both sides of that situation. Confidence is critical. 

No matter what, confidence is, by definition, critical to getting through any difficult endeavor. Learning to read is included in that. From the data, it appears that that fact is being sorely ignored.

 

The Data Is Showing Most Struggling Readers Are Experiencing Extreme Anxiety

I would have expected a majority of parents to say their child had diminished self-esteem. That is par for the course. But to see that the majority of children had gone far past losing confidence and into the realm of high anxiety. That was shocking. If a child is suffering from high anxiety no amount of academic practice is going to help them overcome their learning challenges. The anxiety must be handled first. The child must slowly build up confidence until they are ready to tackle greater challenges.

Yet that isn't always what happens. Very often unnecessary and even damaging strategies are used. All with the only end result being a more frustrated parent and a child with extremely high anxiety. sometimes more and more reading practice gets piled on. Just exacerbating the problem and sending the child into a highly anxious state. A state that makes learning nearly impossible.

On the other hand, solving the anxiety problem first makes everything easier on everyone and reduces the potential for damaging a child's self-esteem.

From the data, it appears that many children's anxiety is being overlooked as a primary component of their learning problem.  And this is alarming!

This is a solvable problem which should be solved!

 

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And what is also alarming is how much of this is being interpreted as behavior problems, laziness, or lack of intelligence. When most of this is likely caused by self-protective mechanisms.

 

Question Asked: Has your child ever been given any of these labels by someone?

 And sometimes labels, proprioception problems, or low self-esteem can cause fear in other areas

 

 Question Asked: Does your child have a fear of sports or other coordination activities?

We have observed for decades that the combination of using self-confidence increasing strategies, teaching body mechanics that emulate positivity, and teaching proprioceptive exercises together can have a profound effect on learning abilities and academics even though none of those activities are academic in themselves.

 

More Girls Struggling With Reading Than Boys?

 

Data Point #4 - More Girls Struggling With Reading Than Boys. Whaaaaaat?

Most studies claim that there is a much higher prevalence of reading difficulties in boys. Some studies show as many as two to three times as many boys. Yet this has been highly debated. Several sites, including PBS, stating that it's about even and the perceived difference is due to boys being more likely to act out.

Our data is telling a different story!

We have no opinion on this. Simply reporting our data. The data surprised us as much as it will probably surprise others.

Would love to hear explanations from researchers in the field or educational professionals. What do you think?

 

 

  Question Asked: Is your child a boy or a girl?

 

  

 

Proprioception 

Not surprisingly the number of respondents who indicated some sort of proprioception problem was high. Proprioception difficulties correlate highly with learning struggles. The Hippocampus is the part of the brain where spatial learning happens and coincidentally is involved with other forms of logical thinking before passing that processing off to the PFC (Prefrontal Cortex).

AND the Hippocampus has an inverse relationship with the amygdala. When the Hippocampus grows the amygdala shrinks. Or in other words, when we gain control over our bodies (proprioception) we gain control over our emotions.

Proprioceptive exercise seems to cause the Hippocampus to grow. We've observed the effects of this for decades (through teaching Shou' Shu' Kung Fu) and they are truly profound.

My guess is that even though these proprioception responses are fairly high numbers they are probably lower than the real numbers since most proprioception problems go unnoticed.

 

Question Asked: Does your child have any of these spatial awareness or directionality problems?

 Question Asked: Does your child have any of these motor problems?

 

Question Asked: Is your child mixed dominant or ambidextrous. (Skip if you do not know) Cross dominant (mixed dominant) means they are right handed but the left eye is dominant. Or vice versa. An easy test to see which is the dominant eye is to hand them a camera or telescope and watch what eye they use.

 The following question is designed to ascertain if there is a coordination problem that is embarrassing to the child. The majority said no. An interesting aside related to this question is that over the years we have found a large number of children who appeared athletic and coordinated but when we went to teach them a body movement that required mindfulness their coordination fell apart. This is actually where we first started to realize that certain types of coordination problems related directly to specific learning disabilities. Liz and I each, over time, developed the ability to "see" the learning problem in the child's body mechanics. Each learning struggle had an associated coordination or proprioception difficulty. Very often we would see this long before any official diagnosis. Or sometimes parents just didn't let us know, even though we asked on our intake forms. 

Simply by teaching our Shou' Shu' Kung Fu techniques, we could spot the learning difficulty expressed in the body.

The amazing thing is that working on the coordination or proprioception problem seemed to also reverse the learning difficulty. They are intrinsically connected and this simple truth became one of the foundations of the Learning Success System.

 

 

 

Handwriting Difficulties Strongly Correlate With Reading Difficulties

 

This is not a surprise. We've seen this when looking at our data in the past. Since proprioception problems correlate it makes sense that handwriting problems do as well.  And just as improving proprioception and coordination seems to improve reading skills so does improving handwriting skills. Developing this brain-eye-hand connection is obviously beneficial but there may be other reasons as well. Many people, including myself, recommend going analog when doing brainstorming, planning, or strategizing activities. Not sure why but pencil and paper seems to activate thinking skills in a different way. Much in the way, one uses their brain for visualizing while reading. 

And this is the reason we have strongly recommended developing the brain-eye-hand connection despite the fact that many are proclaiming handwriting no longer necessary and we are seeing less and less of it in the school systems.

 

Question Asked: Does your child have any of these writing legibility problems? Check all that apply.

 Question Asked: Does your child have any of these processing difficulties while writing?

 

Key Takeaways:

1
The Majority Of Respondents Show Signs Of Extreme Anxiety Over Their Learning Difficulty
2
The Majority Of Respondents Show Symptoms That Might Be Easily Corrected
3
Using Strategies To Increase Self-Confidence May Have The Biggest Positive Effect Of Any Strategy
85% of those with reading difficulties queried show signs of extreme emotional anxiety

 

 

The Gifts Of Dyslexia

 

The human brain and the human spirit is an amazing thing. It adjusts and compensates in amazing ways when there are difficulties. I've experienced this when my own brain "figured out" how to have depth perception after I lost an eye. It trips people out that when doing Kung Fu I can stop a punch at full speed within millimeters of a person's face without having any depth person (and other fun Kung Fu tricks) It actually took my logical brain years to figure out how my subconscious brain figured it out. Our subconscious level of intelligence never seems to amaze. 

In children, these compensations can create amazing talents. Often called the "Gift of Dyslexia" many claims that it is due to brain differences and dyslexics have certain gifts. Maybe that is true. I don't know if the "gifts" are inherent or developed. Likely a combination of both. Regardless, this data seems to show that they do exist.

 

Question Asked: Does your child have any of these talents?

 

 

 

 

Question Asked: Does your child have exceptional skills in these areas?

 

 

Following Directions

 

Also not surprising that there were some high numbers in the following directions question. We discussed that in detail here.

 

Question Asked: Does your child have any trouble with:

 

 

 

Developmental Stages

This question was asked to give clues in two areas. Auditory and proprioception. Obviously, the first answer is related to language processing and the last could signify auditory issues but also remember that it could relate to vestibular problems and those can relate to proprioception issues.

 

 Question Asked: Was any of the following true during your child's early developmental stages?

 

 

Spelling

 

Poor spelling is typically associated with dyslexia. But the reasons may not be obvious. Since students often sound it out this might be a clue. Sometimes spelling problems are about learning to use visual processing.  

 

Question Asked: Does your child have any of these spelling problems?

 

 

 

 

And Finally Auditory Processing

 

It was much expected that there would be a large percentage of answers relating to auditory processing. There are many that loudly profess that dyslexia is all due to auditory processing and language processing. Well, I suppose that if you want to define "true dyslexia" as that then fine. But not all reading problems, and possibly not even a majority are auditory-related. And that is what is important, how to help struggling readers.

I will casually mention that these questions are more subjective and only loosely point to auditory processing issues. So not definitive. Certainly, auditory processing and language processing is a big part of the equation and any dyslexia remediation program should include a lot of exercise in this area. Just not to the exclusion of other areas. I don't know how many times I've posted on facebook that there might be something at play other than auditory issues and then was loudly attacked in a coordinated effort by the auditory-only crowd.

 

Question Asked:  Does your child have any of these language processing problems?

 

Question Asked: Does your child have any of these language processing problems?

 

Question Asked: Does your child have any of these language processing problems? Check any that apply.

 

Question Asked: Does your child have any of these auditory processing problems?

 Question Asked: Does your child have any of these auditory processing problems?

 Question Asked: Does your child have any of these auditory processing problems?

 

 

 

Visual Memory

This question is searching for clues about visual memory. Looking up and to the right may signify trying to access visual memory. A good skill to build on 

 

Question Asked: Does your child have these memory problems?

 

 

 

And The Most Alarming Response?

Who are the 103 people who said they would not spend 15 minutes per day to help their child?

I'm taking Mel Robbins Mindset Reset course so I'm just going to assume good intent. Nuff said

 

 Question Asked:

 

Want To Chime In?

 

When we looked at our data and discovered these key points we realized that the data was too important to keep to ourselves. Since the data was captured in the wild we feel it has a great deal of validity and can help other professionals as well as parents. And in the end that will help children.

So, for that reason, we have made it public. Hopefully, it can help many

Certainly, there is more to decipher from this data that we have done. Therefore we have posted all of the anonymized data from the dyslexia test. Our hope is that data scientists and educational professionals will be able to glean more from it. Our data set is constantly growing and we have even larger data sets from other web forms. If you can put this data to positive use that can help others please do so.

If you have a strong use case for further research feel free to reach out and we can compile more data sets as needed. We have the data. It's just a matter of putting it together in a readable format as we have done with this post. 

We hope it helps. Too many children are not living up to their potential because of problems such as seen here. Knowing where the problems truly are is the first step to solving them.

Let's help:

Embrace Brilliance, Unleash Potential

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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