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"You can soar when you think differently"

Categories: Learning Disabilities, Parenting

Palo Alto-based educational therapist Ruthie Wunderling, who is dyslexic, empathetically helps her clients cultivate “3D thinking” while learning to listen to their inner voice. “Learning Ally is very important for so many children and adults that I work with, who really have trouble reading. It’s huge to be able to listen to a book.” Ruthie explains that people with learning differences are often not able to hear their “inner voice,” because reading fluently has never been a part of their life. “I know so many who drop out because they’re so tired of failing," she says. "But you can listen to someone read with an audiobook, so you’re not struggling to remember what the words are and how to pronounce them. It breaks down the multitasking needed to then hear your own voice. And then you can let your imagination soar.
“I have dyslexia and I feel it’s a gift. It helps me to have the ability to see things from a different perspective and it’s that '3D thinking' that I use to problem-solve very quickly. It makes a huge difference because I can think like my clients do.
 Ruthie Wunderling

“I do a lot of auditory therapy as well as vision therapy and it’s all part of the multisensory mechanism. You have to see it, hear it and do it. A big part of rewiring your brain and using that other hemisphere is listening to the Learning Ally audiobooks.”

As an educational therapist, Ruthie points to the independence that her clients experience with audiobooks. “They are not dependent on having mom or dad read their book to them. They can hear the voice and do it themselves by just putting the ear buds on. They can use the Apple app with their iPod touch and look really cool,” which in the teen years especially, is a huge consideration.

They are not dependent on needing to have mom or dad read their book to them. They can hear the voice and do it themselves by just putting the ear buds on.

Ruthie reminds us that dyslexia isn’t something you can just “fix,” like putting on a pair of glasses to correct your vision. “Dyslexia doesn’t even have a timeline. Sometimes it’s an ongoing process and it’s all because of how your brain works. What you have to do is really train your brain appropriately to learn to re-fire those synapses to make your brain tunnel wider, like a superhighway. Once you get to that area, that piece of learning gets easier.

“I really do think Learning Ally helps individuals find their superpower because once someone realizes they can remember what they’re hearing and they start visualizing it, they don’t forget it. It makes one feel important. And this starts to make your brain work faster and smarter, and you start remembering more and more facts.”

Ruthie believes that when audiobooks are human-voiced, people with learning differences can experience great benefits. “A computer-generated voice doesn’t have the tones and pitches of a human voice. Many individuals’ auditory processing has a difficult time screening out more frequencies. The human voice is natural and you’re designed to listen to it. And I think that helps you get your internal voice.”

A firm believer in early intervention, she encourages parents not to wait. “After the age of 9 or 10, it’s much more difficult to do the remediation," she says. My goal in life is to educate people about learning differences because there’s so much negative information out there. Don’t think of all the bad statistics. Think of how much you can soar when you think differently.

“I say you have these tools; use them continually to learn how to be successful. When you are a lifelong learner, you are welcomed into the 'reading society.' Learning Ally is one of those tools to help you complete your journey -- a key element in life for many individuals who struggle with reading.”

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