The learning disability dyslexia, which centers on difficulties in reading, once stumped scientists. Since dyslexics often have good intelligence and even may be gifted in some areas, it was thought that a little motivation could get them on the right track. Now researchers not only know that dyslexia is born of biology, but they also are getting closer to confirming the key brain areas that are affected. New insights will help pinpoint therapies and improve treatment.
Dyslexia may be rooted in a problem the brain has in teasing out distinct sounds from the incoming garble, researchers say.
Considered a learning disability, dyslexia makes it difficult to read and spell for the estimated 15 percent of Americans who have it. Although dyslexia causes reading problems, the disorder is often linked to subtle difficulties with spoken language, such as trouble distinguishing rhyming syllables such as "ba" and "pa."
Developmental dyslexia and how it relates to brain function are complicated topics that researchers have been studying since dyslexia was first described over a hundred years ago.
The purpose of this article is to explain the answers to questions and provide foundational knowledge that will lead to a firmer understanding of the underlying characteristics of students with dyslexia. A greater understanding of the current brain research and how it relates to students with dyslexia is important in education and will help teachers understand and evaluate possible instructional interventions to help their students succeed in the classroom.
While there isn't a cure for dyslexia, there is a treatment that is becoming popular to help people with dyslexia read better. Neurofeedback training, which is most commonly used for treatment of ADHD cases, is being used more for treating people with dyslexia. The process for neurofeedback involves a set of nodes attached to the head to process brain waves. The brain activity is monitored and controlled, where it sets up a reward/reinforcement system that either rewards or reinforces good brain behavior by the patient.
"I shudder to think what it would have been like without music," says Sasha Baldwin, mother to three teenage sons who are all dyslexic. Luke, 17, plays the violin and guitar. Patrick, 15, plays the piano, organ and trumpet while Robert, 14, is a gifted French horn player. They all sing too. Yet at primary school they struggled from early on as dyslexia manifested itself in different ways in each of them.
Visual overload and visual crowding are common problems in every school classroom or company work group, but the mistakes and errors that result from them are rarely recognized or traced back to their true source. It is a paradox - the more you see, the less you see, but it all makes sense if one recognizes that a child or an adult's visual working memory deskspace can become easily overloaded.
Background noise can be a big obstacle to efficient classroom learning for dyslexic students. Larger classes sizes, murmurings and rustlings from fellow classmates, and a fuzziness about phonology or weak auditory working memory, can spell failure (or ADD misdiagnosis) for even very smart or determined dyslexic students. This study only looked at tone and Huggins (kind of spectral noise) sounds...a test of similar-sounding phonemes might be even more dramatic.
“Children who have not developed some basic literacy skills by the time they enter school are 3 – 4 times more likely to drop out in later years.” - National Adult Literacy Survey, (2002) NCES, U.S. Department of Education
You will hear references to the “double deficit” in dyslexics. This is a theory that dyslexics both have a weak phonological awareness (of the sounds in words) and also a poor naming speed rate, when asked to recall words: http://www.apa.org/monitor/mar00/dyslexia.aspx
We see this pattern in a subset of the children we help learn to read. Phonological weakness is very common, but sometimes you can teach a child to decode confidently yet it never becomes automatic and fluent.