Video games and Dyslexia
Video games and education are two aspects of modern day life that I would like to see coexist one day. Heck, there are plenty of schools in the world today that are embracing the idea of using video game creation or kid’s passion for them to positively influence their school curriculum. Though at the moment it there is little a video game can do that can replace the teaching ability of a passionate school teacher. There is always that chance however that a student will come along and need more than the school can provide on its own. One such need is related to dyslexia, a disorder that can increase the difficulty of reading or interpreting words, letters or symbols at various levels of severity. While this does not affect performance in any other skills, dyslexia can be a huge hurdle to overcome while going through school if it isn’t worked with. As I said before, nothing can replace working one on one with someone who understands dyslexia and the exercises that can help lessen its effects. However, it is becoming more prominent that one of the best ways to help improve a dyslexic’s reading abilities can be done through playing video games. Now, I could scour the internet and list article after article that would all point to the same idea and give a list of scientific reasons why video games can help. However, no matter how much research I could do, none of it would be able to trump first-hand experience. After living with this disability my whole life, I am here to say that while video games may not be a cure per say but they helped tremendously.
I was diagnosed with mild dyslexia when I was in second grade so I can’t honestly remember who it was you recommended that my mother encourage me to play video games along with my other reading exercises, but whoever that was, I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart. It was the glorious 90s and I had plenty of systems in my house to choose from, the Super Nintendo, N64 and of course the classic Gameboy. After spending the first few years of my life just content to watch my brother play, I decided to try and play a few titles such as: Megaman X, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Pokemon. Some of these games were more challenging than others but the stories and character dialogue were all in unspoken text which I needed to read in order to understand what was going on. The more I got into the stories and characters, the more I played and the more I wanted to read no matter how difficult it was at first. It ties in with what I hear from most scientific accounts about dyslexia, that it is more of an issue of focus instead of not understanding language (sciencedaily.com).
After that introduction to the gaming experience, playing became a sort of after school tradition. Come home, do homework (if mom was there), then go upstairs to my brother’s room to either watch him play or play something myself. In fact, I actually sought out games that required even more reading such as the JRPG’s of the decade such as Final Fantasy 7 and Lunar. With all this practice at home along with reading exercises at school, reading and writing went from my worst subject to the one I was best at. Not to say I didn’t still have problems from time to time but my reading level increased dramatically with each grade. So by the time I reached high school, my dyslexia was pretty much unnoticeable since I could read and write with the best of them. Even long after graduation, I’m still committed to pursuing a career that focuses on writing since it has become a huge passion of mine thanks to all great stories I’ve read from books and playing video games.
I understand that everyone is different when it comes to this issue and I will not say that playing video games cured me (that would just be silly), but it was an effective tool to practice reading that I could do from home. You can come up with as many scientific reasons this method works as you like, but to me it was just the right amount of balance between what I was learning in school and putting it to practice in class and at home. One couldn’t exist without the other. Something that could be made much more effective if schools take advantage of this method with other important skills besides reading, but analyzing and making sense of what they experience through play compares to what they learn in the classroom.
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