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Creative Techniques and Learning Disabilities
By: Jane Saeman

Print This Article Many strategies for dealing effectively with learning disabilities include multi-sensory approaches. The thinking behind this is simple: the more ways you give a person to remember something, the more chances they have of actually doing so. One approach that works-particularly for the artistically inclined-is the use of creative techniques to relay and interpret academic information. These techniques may include the integration of visual art (such as painting, drawing, or photography), literary art (such as poems, short stories, or plays), music, or drama. Not only are these approaches entertaining for students, they also make use of different areas of the brain, which promotes valuable cross-region connections. There are two excellent sources on the subject, which are profiled below. 1. The Power of the Arts: Creative Strategies for Teaching Exceptional Learners, written by Sally L. Smith The author of this revolutionary book is one of the country's foremost experts on working with learning disabled students. She's the founder and director of Washington D.C.'s Lab School, an institution she created specifically for students with learning differences. Smith is also a professor of education at American University and the mother of a child with scholastic difficulties. All of these qualifications make her well-suited to providing parents, teachers, and other learning disability specialists with information on the best techniques for working with special needs students. This book consists of interviews with faculty members of the Lab School, who have found that incorporating art into their curriculum has made their lessons come alive for their students. One example illustrates how sculpture can be used to teach students about geometric principles, while another shows how acting can enhance students' vocabularies. Clear, detailed instructions allow readers to put these techniques to use in their own homes or classrooms. Smith makes the important argument that art is not only a fun way for students to express themselves, but also culturally and scholastically enriching. 2. Overcoming Dyslexia: A New and Complete Science-Based Program for Reading Problems at Any Level, written by Sally Shaywitz This critically-acclaimed book uses science to give evidence that artistic techniques are an effective way to teach dyslexic students how to read. Shaywitz-a Yale neuroscientist-looks at the structure of the dyslexic brain and how it functions. Neurotechnology has proven that those with dyslexia use a different part of the brain to read than those without dyslexia. Art can be used as a means to create connections between the two areas of the brain, thus enabling the ability to make sense of written language. Shaywitz makes the compelling argument that dyslexia should be looked at not just as a weakness, but also as a strength. She points to the large number of highly successful artists who have struggled with and benefited from their dyslexia, including Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Wendy Wasserstein and bestselling author John Irving. Shaywitz provides in-depth case studies of these artists to illustrate how dyslexia allows for increased creativity and comprehension, while at the same time inhibiting the ability to decode letters and punctuation marks. She indicates that art can help to bridge the gap between these two types of skills, which can lead to great personal and professional achievement. Keyword Articles: Jane Saeman runs an In-Home Tutoring service called Aim High Tutors. Find out about how to help your student reach their full potential at . Submit Articles Member Login Top Authors Most Popular Articles Submission Guidelines Ezine Notifications Article RSS Feeds Post Comment Add To Favorites Email to Friends Ezine Ready

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