Seeing double: further steps in the left-to-right or right-to-left story

Remember the story so far? Gabriel ‘air writing’ the number 422, but by pointing right-to-left (RTL) while saying ie reading out, “2,2,4″. And that the interpretation is that Gabriel is a latent left hander. The next steps should provide sufficient empirical evidence to convince even the most sceptical doubter of the validity of this explanation.

Two days later Gabriel and I were walking back up the same hill. We were much further down the hill and hadn’t yet reached the house numbered 177. Nevertheless Gabriel spontaneously pointed to the number on the door we were just passing, when pointing with his left hand he ‘read’, it as “One, one, one, one, seven, seven”". Spot what he’s done? He read the digits left-to-right (LTR) but ‘playfully’ repeated each one.

I don’t think you could guess how he proceeded. Yes, the next was read, with the left hand, LTR as “One,one; one,one; nine, nine.” Then “One,one,two, two, one, one” and so on. Then there was a break in the numbering and we eventually reached house numbered 177. This time he excelled himself, reading again with his left hand, LTR as “One, one; seven, seven; seven, seven.” Without prompting he then re-read it, gesturing as before, as “”One, one; seven, seven; seven, seven; seven, seven, seven, seven”!

So what’s going on here: do we say he’s suffering from a visual-processing deficit- seeing double? But this wouldn’t explain his final reading of 177. Or, knowing young children’s predilection for repetition, interpret Gabriel to be gesturing emphatically with both voice and hand! And what of the ‘reverberatory’ seven, seven, seven…. seven: reminiscent of a fading echo; ending with “down in Devon” or as he prefers “up in heaven”?

Remembering Yves Guiard’s stricture that in all uni-manual tasks, the other hand is still doing something; what was Gabriel’s ‘non-pointing’ hand doing while he was reading the house numbers. He was holding his soft toy Build-a-Bear!

And back to square one, or RTL. On the way to school, down the hill this morning: accompanied by his older sister, Finley, and holding his Build-a-Bear in his left hand he spontaneously pointed to and read the house numbers right-to-left as “nine, seven, one”, “seven, seven, one”!

What are some of the lessons for identifying children at-risk’ for reading/writing problems? The first is that the mode of interacting is pedagogic, meaning, (a) the child is never told he is right or wrong, (b) the interaction is driven by what the child’s brain is enabling the body to do, and (c) given that the mind’s eye image lies in one of two (mirroring) cerebral hemispheres it easy to see that how errors ‘in production’ occur when the ‘talking’ hand is trying to read the mind’s eye image in the same as opposed to opposite cerebral hemisphere. (The connection between hand and brain is, left hemisphere controls the right hand, and the right hemisphere controls the left hand).

About petermathews

Member of the Royal Society of Medicine
This entry was posted in Dyslexia, Dyslexic, Education, Hand, Mirror, Pedagogy, Reading, Teaching and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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