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Learning can be a complicated process requiring different capabilities and features, as well as the right conditions. When someone has a learning disorder (whether individual or environmental) this can severely hinder their learning abilities. Dyslexia, a condition that makes it difficult for someone to read, write and spell, is one such disorder. It’s estimated to affect a staggering 5% to 15% of Americans (14.5 to 43.5 million children and adults!) and can make schooling especially difficult for those who have it. Without adequate care and support, these children will often fall behind their classmates and struggle most of their lives with holding down a job or living a full life.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. When given the tools and guidance to work around their disability, dyslexic students can thrive just as well as their peers. One way to do this is through learning techniques like multisensory games that allow students to identify where their mistakes are coming from and how to correct them. Not only does this help them overcome their disability, but it also helps make schoolwork more fun and engaging.

Here, we take a look at the challenges dyslexic children face in the classroom and how multisensory games can help.

Understanding Dyslexia
Among the general public, there is a surprising level of ignorance about what dyslexia is. From ignorance, comes a lack of empathy and this is sadly where a lot of the difficulties dyslexic children endure in the classroom come from. Since people with dyslexia can often appear to be perfectly intelligent and competent in most areas, their inability to properly read or write can sometimes be mistaken for dimwittedness or even just laziness.

The fact is dyslexia can affect someone’s ability to read, write, or spell no matter how hard they try or how intelligent he or she is. This is due to a deficiency in their phonemic awareness, the ability to distinguish between certain letters or sounds that appear very similar. For instance, “B” and “P,” two letters whose distinct sounds occur extremely quickly. Most people can pick out these subtle vocal distinctions with ease. For those with dyslexia, this can be very difficult.

The cause of this has been pinpointed by neuroscientific research, which shows that those with dyslexia have decreased activity in the left prefrontal cortex when distinguishing between similar sounding letters. The only way around this is through alternative teaching methods that activate different parts of the brain. Unfortunately, these alternative methods can often be slow, laborious, and frustrating for educators, parents, and the students themselves.

How the Use of Multisensory Games Can Help those with Dyslexia

Reading is the foundation of all learning skills. When a child cannot properly read, they are unable to progress with the rest of their learning. The most common method by which schools teach reading is through visual cues, something that dyslexic students will struggle with.

By using multisensory play, students can be taught to use their other senses during the instruction process. The challenge can be broken down by first having the student learn the names of the letters and then the sounds. After this, the student can learn a few different consonants and vowels that can be combined to successfully pronounce the sound of each letter. Once they can say the sounds, they can practice learning to write and read a few simple three-letter words. It can often be helpful to have a student practice by reading a story, first by silently reading it to themselves and then out loud.

But as mentioned, this process can be time-consuming and frustrating even in the best of circumstances. Fortunately, new advances in technology have the potential to make things much easier for both the student and the educator. By using multisensory tech-based games that can be tailored to suit each student’s specific learning needs, progress can be much faster, more fun, and easier to integrate into other classroom activities.

The benefits that such games can have on a student’s development have already been shown in several academic studies. Based on our understanding of how dyslexia effect’s the brain, games can be designed to make use of other areas of the brain critical to reading skills. Through repeat training, the student’s brain can be “rewired” to function more like those of normal readers.

Examples of Multisensory Games That Can Be Used in the Classroom

Below are some multisensory games (out of 37 in total) that can aid students with dyslexia (as well as other disabilities). Each of these games comes from Kinems, a groundbreaking multisensory education program designed for PreK-5 students.

  • Over the Galaxy – A sensory game that allows children to identify the correct objects on screen following instructions given. This game helps strengthen impulse control For dyslexic students, this can be very helpful for practising with identifying numbers and letters especially for children who struggle with reverse letters. Apart from being practical, this game is also great for allowing kids to destress and have fun.

  • Zoko Write – A letter tracing game designed to help students learn how to recognize and write uppercase letters and practice their hand-eye coordination. With help from a mole-rat character named Zoko, students are asked to trace a route for Zuko to collect apples. The game can be modified to use straight letters or curvy ones. Time limits can also be set for each task.

At Kinems academy website one can find how Kinems educational gaming suite can meet the needs of a teacher who wants to design ELA activities.

Final Thoughts
The effects of the pandemic and the reopening of schools have put a heavy burden on educators and school administrators across the country. Many of them are dealing with understaffing issues and budgetary concerns that make it more difficult to ensure their special needs students are getting all the help they need. Multisensory games can provide a solution that not only improves the quality of life for children with dyslexia but also saves money by ensuring they can become proficient in reading and writing at the appropriate grade level.