Dyslexia

To read, many areas in the brain must communicate with each other –  the brain must take in, store, and process language information. When all the areas work together, a person reads with fluency and gains comprehension.  Unfortunately for some, learning to read will be the single hardest academic skill to learn.  Without specialized reading instruction, their academic career will be much harder.

Dyslexia, a specific learning disability in reading, occurs in up to 20% of our population.  When certian areas in the brain do not develop the cognitive processes for learning phonics and decoding words, achieving reading fluency is hard fought.  These individuals need to be taught in very specific ways to develop these cognitive processes to become a more fluent reader.

Signs of Dyslexia?

Preschool Years

  • Trouble learning common nursery rhymes, such as “Jack and Jill”
  • Doesn’t recognize rhyming patterns like cat, bat, rat
  • Mispronounces familiar words
  • Difficulty learning (and remembering) the names of letters in the alphabet
  • Family history of reading and/or spelling difficulties

list adapted from Sally E. Shaywitz and Bennett A. Shaywitz, Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity

Kindergarten and 1st Grade

  • Doesn’t understand words come apart
  • Guesses at words rather than sounding them out—even simple words like cat, map, nap
  • May not easily associate letters with sounds, such as the letter b with the “b” sound
  • Makes reading errors with no connection to the sounds of the letters on the page—will say “puppy” instead of the written word “dog” on an illustrated page with a picture of a dog
  • Complains about how hard reading is or “disappears” when it’s time to read
  • History of reading problems in parents or siblings

list adapted from Sally E. Shaywitz and Bennett A. Shaywitz, Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity

2nd Grade and Up

  • Slow to acquire reading skills
  • Reading is slow and awkward
  • Lacks fluency
  • Trouble reading unfamiliar words, often making wild guesses because they can’t sound out the word
  • Doesn’t seem to have a strategy for reading new words
  • Avoids reading out loud

list adapted from Sally E. Shaywitz and Bennett A. Shaywitz, Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity

Understanding Dyslexia

Dyslexia is probably not what you think it is!

 

It certainly doesn’t mean that your child can’t be successful in school. In fact, dyslexia is fairly common. Mostly, it gets in the way of a person’s ability to sound out words. This causes them to rely on memorizing and guessing words rather than being able to decode them. For this same reason, spelling can be a challenge too. In the end, dyslexia makes reading hard. This, in turn, interrupts fluency and comprehension.

Reading can be such a joyful experience but that’s typically not the case for kids with dyslexia. It can also be difficult for parents as they watch their child struggle with reading. However, when a child receives effective instruction with well-trained professionals, they can discover the joy of reading!

Let’s get clarity about what dyslexia really is and how it may relate to your child’s reading.

Understanding Dyslexia:

 

The term ‘dyslexia’ is derived from Greek and means ‘difficulty with words’. The first case of developmental dyslexia was reported by W. Pringle-Morgan in the British Medical Journal in 1896.

However, it took decades before educators and researchers could reach a consensus about a definition, much less how to remediate it.

In 2002, the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) partnered with the National Institutes of Child and Human Development (NICHD), National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) to develop the definition. www.dyslexiaida.org/definition-consensus-project/

At long last, there was clarity and agreement to guide families, educators and other professionals.

This definition was revalidated in 2016 as it remains meaningful for research and educational practice. It is widely accepted in the professional community and referenced in the educational laws of many states, including Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio.

 

Here is the scientific definition:

Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.

(Adopted by the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) Board in November 2002. This definition is also used by the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), 2002. www.dyslexiaida.org/definition-of-dyslexia/

Three experts in the field of dyslexia took this definition and explained it phrase by phrase in more user-friendly language:

(Source: A Definition of Dyslexia by G. Reid Lyon, Sally E. Shaywitz and Bennett A. Shaywitz; Annuals of Dyslexia, Volume 53, 2003)

Specific learning disability –

research has indicated specific cognitive characteristics related to dyslexia.

…that is neurological in origin –

dyslexia results from differences in how the brain processes information.  Specifically, functional brain imaging has demonstrated a failure of the left hemisphere posterior brain systems to function properly during reading.

It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities –

students with dyslexia will demonstrate difficulties identifying real words (word recognition) and pronouncing nonsense words (decoding); the student’s ability to read fluently is also a major characteristic as well as difficulty with spelling.  This is in contrast to the popularly held belief that the major characteristic is the reversal of letters, words and numbers.

These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language –

making the connection between oral language and the letters/sounds that represent language in written form requires an awareness that all words can be decomposed into phonologic segments (i.e., the word bat can be broken down into three phonemes or individual sounds – b, a, and t).  Research findings have been consistent in confirming that in young school-age children as well as in adolescents, a deficit in phonology is the strongest and most specific finding related to dyslexia.

That is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities –

unexpected in relation to the student’s: oral language skills, the ability to learn in the absence of print, intellectual functioning, or strong math skills in comparison to reading skills.

…and the provision of effective classroom instruction 

if the child has been identified as at-risk for reading failure in kindergarten and first grade, have they been provided with effective instruction in order to develop proficient early reading skills?  The lack of response to scientifically informed instruction is one factor that differentiates severe reading deficits from reading failure resulting from inadequate instruction.  Early intervention is critical…students who receive appropriate instruction show changes in how their brain processes the information so that it resembles that of non disabled readers.  Research has found that effective early interventions have the capability of reducing the expected incidence of reading failure from 18% of the school age population to 1 – 5%.

 

Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge –

because students with reading difficulties typically do not read the same amount as non disabled readers, it may impact their vocabulary development as well as their exposure to information learned by reading.

 

3rd Graders – Words Read Per Year, 20 Minutes Daily:

Poor Readers

Average Readers

Great Readers

Myths about Dyslexia:

Dyslexia is NOT a visual problem

In the list above, you may notice that there is no mention of seeing words or letters backwards as a sign of dyslexia. It is not a visual issue. Of course, vision is necessary to read but it is not the reason people with dyslexia have difficulty. This myth likely took hold because a child may confuse words such as “was” for “saw” and “on” for “no”. This led to the assumption that the person was seeing the letters and words backwards. Unfortunately, this myth is still widely believed.

Research has clearly shown that this not the case. The underlying reason is related to phonological awareness – the ability to process sounds in our language.. Here is an article that explains how the visual system is involved. https://dyslexiaida.org/visual-system-differences/

Dyslexia is NOT about letter or word reversals

Spelling can also look jumbled because kids have trouble remembering letter symbols for sounds. However, letter reversals when writing are not caused by dyslexia. This is due to symbolic confusion of letters and can be developmental. Just because a kid reverses letters does not mean they have dyslexia.

Other Misconceptions/Myths of Dyslexia:

  • Can’t be diagnosed until 3rd grade
  • Will outgrow it
  • Will never learn to read well
  • Reading will just “click in”
  • Affects boys more than girls
  • Most are left-handed

 

For someone with dyslexia, the reading process can be challenging; however, it is not insurmountable.

 

Maryanne Wolf in Understanding Dyslexia and the Reading Brain in Kids offers this advice:

 

“Don’t ever succumb to the idea that it’s going to develop out of something, or that it’s a disease. Dyslexia is a different brain organization that needs different teaching methods. It is never the fault of the child, but rather the responsibility of us who teach to find methods that work for that child.”

 

If you want more in-depth information about dyslexia, call us! We will be happy to talk with you about your child and how we can help.

 

Early identification and intervention are the keys to reading success for kids with dyslexia. 

Instruction:

 

Reading is a complex process – particularly for a child with dyslexia. Actually, it is impressive that so many people learn to read as well as they do. Unlike speaking, reading is not a ‘natural’ process. It is an invention.

No child is born a reader. In fact, human brains are not pre-wired to read. Our brains are pre-wired to speak. In order to read – convert print into language, our brains need to be explicitly “trained”. With kids in every written language, a “reading circuit” has to be built. This circuit connects the different areas in the brain that are specific to a child’s particular language.

There has long been a controversy about the best way to teach reading. Years ago, this was talked about as the “reading wars”. The pendulum swung from phonics to whole language and back again. This debate completely missed the reality that learning to read requires a cascade of steps. All of the many steps are necessary, not just one or two.

 

The good news is the war is over! Reading instruction is now well understood and documented. It is described in the body of research known as the Scientifically Based Reading Research (SBRR). The National Reading Panel translates some of SBRR key conclusions into plain English.

 

This graphic illustrates how dyslexia impacts different areas of language and reading development. As you can see, if dyslexia is not addressed, there is an avalanche of academic consequences that can occur.

(Do we need an updated definition of dyslexia? In short, no! It was revalidated in 2016. 

Cincinnati Reading Centers offers individualized, targeted instruction using the Science of Reading. The guidelines indicate that instruction needs to be systematic, explicit, immersive, multi-sensory. This instruction is effective but not necessary for all kids. It is essential for those with dyslexia.

 

Our instruction has been consistently successful in remediating the core deficits for children with dyslexia. We can change your child’s academic trajectory. Early intervention is certainly best, but it is never too late.

 

Now the best news – we can help your child discover the joy of reading!

 

Here are comments from two families:

 

There are no words to explain the level of gratitude my entire family holds for Cincinnati Reading Center and the work they did with our son. His teachers and counselors at school are now referring to CRC as miracle workers because they are so blown away by the immediate impact they had on our son. I would highly recommend Langsford to any family who has a child struggling with Dyslexia. His confidence is back and he now loves to read! Homework is much less of a battle and his report cards are like night and day! Thank you for everything you have done for our family.

 

Cincinnati Reading Center is where your child needs to be! If you are debating between here and somewhere else … CRC really is the answer. After tutoring somewhere else via another method for almost a year, my 8 year old son was getting burnt out and unmotivated… while he was improving we need to understand our children with dyslexia are not “slow” learners, they just learn “differently”. Making the switch to the accelerated learning with the Langsford team was the best decision we could have made.

Let’s Learn Together!

What does a parent do?  Schedule a formal reading evaluation. With a reading evaluation will learn together the strengths and weaknesses of your child’s reading processes, and identify the root cause of the reading difficulty.

call: (513) 531-7400

text: (513) 531-7400