Why can’t they see it?

Isn’t it great reading a good book?  You join the author on a journey of images, emotions and ideas. Ask any lover of books whether they prefer reading the book or seeing its movie and invariably it will be the book. Why?


It has to do with the journey taken whilst reading which is fuelled by the book but manifests in the reader’s own imagination. It is this uniqueness of how they see the characters and their interactions with each other, that can make a story so wonderful.


So what changes when we see a movie?

The movie may not resemble how we may have ‘pictured’ the characters or the shape or placement of items, the mood, the weather, the light and dark or its shades.  Instead, the movie is how the movie director and writer interprets and imagines the book


What is really being described here is a comparison of comprehension from a text and how it manifests in the mind compared to being given visual and auditory images. This conversion of ideas in a text to actual images, sounds etc., is the actual neurological process of comprehension. To state it a different way, if you read the sentence: The three pigs sat on the floor; it is essential that you can literally close your eyes and picture the scene in your imagination.


Try this little exercise.

Read the following lines one at a time and try to conjure the feeling, image, smell, taste etc that is cued by the sentence.


Smell a strawberry (Can you smell it?). Smell a horse. Smell a fish. Hear a trumpet.  Hear a siren. Taste a hot curry. Taste an apple. See a rainbow. See a ship. See your pet. Feel cold. Feel wind on your face.


Now ask you child to close their eyes and picture something like their pet or a ship. Ask them to see their name inside their mind and then spell it backwards when they can see it.


Either one of two things will generally happen. They will spell their name backwards, RETEP for Peter or they won’t. They will see their dog or not, usually saying, ‘no I can’t see him, it’s black.’ See a ship. What can you see? ‘Nothing, it’s just black!’ Ok then try and smell a fish.


Your child is really going to know you have lost the plot now. All your cred will be gone.


Don’t despair, what you are seeing is whether the neural wiring exists for this particular imagination process. By neural wiring I mean that from the auditory cue of “smell a fish” which is ‘heard’ in their ears, the brain must then process the idea and take it to the ‘smell’ part of the brain. In a similar way, when we hear or read a word like ‘ship’, we can take it to the imaging region in the right hemisphere and conjure the image or take it to the smell part of the brain and perhaps smell the ocean associated with a ship.


Get the idea?


So what happens for the child who cannot ‘see’ an image of a fish when they read?


‘The shiny fish swam around the pink coral’. I am guessing that you have a clear image of our shiny fish but your child won’t. This is the critical point. This is the critical neurology of comprehension. If this is not happening, practising comprehension over and over isn’t really going to help.


The link that allows this ‘seeing’ must be built within the child’s brain. It is achieved with specially targeted exercises that first create and then strengthen the ‘wiring’ until it becomes part of the very fabric of the child’s intellect.


It’s exciting that the ‘seeing’ can usually be created very quickly with a skilled practitioner. Then with practise, reading longer passages and coping with increasingly complex ideas will all become child’s play!


Many people are skilled to assist with comprehension. For help, consider contacting your teacher, a speech pathologist, a psychologist or tutor. Tyquin Group Speech Pathology and Reading Clinic may also be contacted on 33998028. www.tyquin.com.au