Right in the middle of your two-sided brain there is a bridge of tissue called the Corpus Callosum (CC), the only connection between the two sides. The CC’s job is to send information back and forth so that each side knows what the other is doing. The hemispheres have different specialties and the CC keeps them in touch with each other. It surely must be one of the busiest places on earth, with millions of tiny currents zipping back and forth every time you think a thought!
Occasionally an individual’s CC is slightly out of shape. When that happens, it causes messages travelling from the right to the left side to arrive late. This out-of-sync delivery from right to left was first discovered back in the seventies by a very smart psychiatrist, Dr. William Condon, who began to do some high-speed photography of dyslectic kids. To his amazement, he found that some were out-of-sync with themselves right down the midline of the body. When they started to blink, one eyelid started down just a fraction of a second before the other one. When they started to smile, one corner of the mouth started up just a fraction of a second before the other one. When they reached for something, one hand started to move just a fraction of a second before the other. The slow side was always the same and the delay was the same size for everything. The timing mismatch explained other oddities in dyslexia besides reading, such as left-right confusion (never outgrown, according to my adult dyslectic friends) certain kinds of math, and hyperactivity that looks like ADHD but isn’t. Today’s fancy brain scans still show the same time delay from right to left that Dr. Condon cleverly found in 1982 with just a low-tech, high-speed camera!
In the forties and fifties an educational disaster washed over this country called “Whole Language” or “The Sight Method” which promoted the nonsense that you should be taught to read by memorizing the looks of a word rather than understanding its phonics. Phonics went out the window, and a couple of decades later, when some enterprising souls compared reading skill among countries world-wide, the United States came in almost at the bottom, with only Sri Lanka worse!
In the Industrial Age when you could live comfortably with a factory job, reading skill didn’t matter much. In fact, in the early nineteen hundreds, the country’s high school dropout rate ran around 90 percent. But today’s Technological Age requires an education and good reading. “Whole Language” went out the window, phonics came in again and American kids learned to read. But the dyslectics didn’t, even though they were soaked in phonics. Suddenly they stuck out and became visible. Read More