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Posted on June 17, 2012, 10:26 pm

"Playing “Tetris” May Help with Dyslexia

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As a former tutor for children with dyslexia, I keep an eye out for games that reinforce the up-down, left-right brain orientation that many dyslexic children lack.

One of the best games I have come across is Tetris. Originally available for the computer back in the 90’s, it has since been adapted for platforms like Playstation, X-Box, Wii, and Gameboy.

Tetris is an ideal game for your child if he or she is confusing letter or word order when reading—or numbers in math. This game forces the player to think about which way shaped blocks are oriented on the screen, and then figure out how to re-orient them so that they can dovetail with the blocks lined up at the bottom. The game speeds up and the player needs to react faster and faster.

What this does is teach your child to make a mental note as to which way each block is facing and plan ahead to maneuver it so that it will face the right way. This skill transfers easily to reading, enabling the child to catch and correct himself when he reverses or misreads a letter.

Both of my daughters have dyslexia. When they were younger, I let them playTetris for a few minutes before school and before doing homework. This trained them to pay attention to the orientation of 2-dimensional objects. I could see an improvement when they regularly played orientation games like this prior to reading.

Why this works: Dyslexic children utilize both sides of their brains equally when reading. Everyone else tends to rely more on the left side of the brain. Having one side of your brain carrying the brunt of your mental activity actually orients your entire body. Thus, you instinctively “know” your left from your right. Dyslexics start out in early elementary school without this anchor, so they often feel like they are in a helicopter hovering over their reading book, looking at the letters from every angle. No wonder they reverse and transpose letters and words when reading.

Activities like Tetris start to provide a mental anchor for these children, allowing them to develop this critical left-right orientation.

Lots of versions of Tetris are available on Amazon and other online stores.The trick is to find one that contains the original or “classic” Tetris game. This is the simplest, has the fewest background distractions, and the blocks appear flat. Fancy 3D shapes and “see-through” special effects could be a real distraction for your child. Your dyslexic child automatically perceives everything in 3D anyway, so you don’t need to reinforce that skill. It’s the 2-dimensional, left-right, up-down skills that are critical for reading. Check the description before buying to be sure you are getting a classic Tetris.

Start Big: Select a version of Tetristhat works on your computer or TV screen, rather than the smaller handheld Gameboy or Palm-sized versions. Tiny screens could make the game frustrating for your child. Let him or her play a larger-screen version of the game before introducing a handheld one.

You can even “try before you buy.” Let your child test out Tetris online at the official Tetris Website, Just register and get started!"


Comment by myndzi on June 18, 2012, 3:35 pm
This is ironic, because I mix up s and z all the time...
Comment by Blink on June 18, 2012, 11:57 am
lol wojtek
Comment by Wojtek on June 18, 2012, 2:29 am
next time: "tetris cures cancer"

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