Learning Differently—Our Thoughts on Dyslexia



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Examiner, Volume 7, Issue 4
October 2018

By Nancy Cushen White

The next contribution to our new Examiner feature, “The Art of Dyslexia,” has been created by a brother-sister team, ages 11 and 13 years old. “Learning Differently—Our Thoughts on Dyslexia” is an insightful, informative, and captivating film that explores dyslexia from the point of view of a 6th grader and an 8th grader. This video includes stop-motion video, stick figure art, music, and the true story of their life with dyslexia. Continue on to view the film and to read a Q&A between the Examiner’s Nancy Cushen White and the film’s co-creators, Alison and Dylan, and its executive producer, their mom, Melinda. Both Alison and Dylan have dyslexia, and they want the rest of the world to understand what that means.

After viewing the film, read on for the informative Q&A with Alison and Dylan and their mom.

Q&A With Alison, Dylan, and Melinda


Q: Where did the idea for this project originate?

Melinda (Mom): Part of my identity as a parent has become being a mom with two kids with dyslexia. This has given me the opportunity to talk about programs that have helped my children and to share other resources I have discovered along the way. Our school district has begun working on a plan to address students with dyslexia—thanks to California Assembly Bill 1369.

Alison: Dyslexia varies with each student, so every learner with dyslexia faces different challenges. My school district is working to find new ways to help students with dyslexia, and they invited my brother and me to represent the student voice. We presented a stop-motion movie to inform school board members, teachers, and principals about dyslexia and to share our views as students with dyslexia.

We presented a stop-motion movie to inform school board members, teachers, and principals about dyslexia and to share our views as students with dyslexia.

Melinda (Mom): Alison and Dylan have become the “student voices” on this committee. Since sitting in a room full of adults talking about Tier 3 interventions would not have been the best use of their time, they opted to create a presentation to communicate their point of view. With a bit of help with planning, they put together a stop-motion animation video to explain their experiences with dyslexia from their personal perspective.

Q: Alison and Dylan, we love your video! What inspired you, a brother and a sister, to work together on this project to educate the public about “dyslexia”? Was it an “aha moment” or a thought that had been brewing within one or both of you for some time?

Alison: It’s easy for my brother and me to work together, and we both have experience with dyslexia. We noticed that the two of us have different attributes. Most people seem to see dyslexia as one-sided or only having to do with reading. We wanted people to know that dyslexia affects people differently.

Q: Who came up with the format of stick figures, progressive drawings, and voice-over from each of you to showcase your message? Did you both contribute to the artwork? How did you choose the background music?

Alison: My mom suggested a PowerPoint slide presentation, but that sounded so boring! I really wanted to use stop-motion because I thought it would be more engaging and entertaining—while also educating. I also thought using a whiteboard and the stick figures would be cool!

Dylan: We took turns sketching and filming. Alison would do one scene while I worked the camera, and then we would switch. Each scene took about an hour to make. I selected the music. I thought it would go well with the voices and the drawings. It was calm and subtle and not distracting. We found it on a free website called bensound.com.

Melinda (Mom): The kids and I talked about what they wanted their teachers and others to know about dyslexia. Together, we came up with a list. I interviewed them, and we turned it into a script.

Alison: This 5-minute homemade movie, created by my brother and me, was filmed at six frames per second. That’s over 1,200 hand-drawn pictures! Although it took four weeks for us to complete, we think the finished product is fantastic!

Q: If you had to choose the most important facts of the many you have presented in Learning Differently—Our Thoughts on Dyslexia, which ones would you want your audience to remember?

Alison and Dylan: We want people to remember three things:
1. Dyslexia is different for each person.
2. Dyslexia is not a bad thing.
3. We hope that with knowledge about dyslexia, people can learn how to properly help students with dyslexia learn.

About the Film’s Creators

Melinda (and her husband, Steven) are parents of two terrific kids. Both kids were identified with dyslexia in 2014 when they were in 2nd and 4th grades. Their diagnosis has sent Melinda on a journey to learn as much as possible about how they learn. She is extremely grateful to all the educators who have helped the family along the way. When she is not volunteering at school, she is currently pursuing her interest in math instruction.

Siblings Alison and Dylan are middle school students and learners with dyslexia who live on the San Francisco Peninsula. They enjoy hanging out with friends, being creative, and playing with their cat. They are the artists behind the informative and charming stop-motion animation short video, “Learning Differently—Our Thoughts on Dyslexia” which can be viewed on YouTube at the following URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_rdls_YIXU.

For more information about the film or the artists, e-mail tincat2018@gmail.com.


How to Submit Works of Art for Consideration for Publication in the Examiner

If you have an artistic work you would like to submit for consideration in future issues of the Examiner, please send inquiries and submissions to MFriedman@DyslexiaIDA.org. Submissions must feature artistic work by someone with dyslexia or by a creative team on which someone with dyslexia has played a key role. Any artistic genre from someone with dyslexia of any age is welcome, but given the Examiner’s digital platform, we are especially interested in pieces that take less than five minutes to read, view, or listen to. Each submission must include the original art in publishable form, a short biography, and a headshot (.jpg) of the artist. Space limitations preclude publishing every artistic work we receive, but we greatly value the talent and effort behind each submission and will give each one careful consideration. Artists we publish must agree to participate in a Q&A.

Nancy Cushen White, Ed.D., is the editor of the Examiner; a learning specialist; Clinical Professor, University California San Francisco; and Past IDA National Board Member.

Copyright © 2018 International Dyslexia Association (IDA). Opinions expressed in The Examiner and/or via links do not necessarily reflect those of IDA.

We encourage sharing of Examiner articles. If portions are cited, please make appropriate reference. Articles may not be reprinted for the purpose of resale. Permission to republish this article is available from info@dyslexia.org.