News and Research
Over the last 2 decades, scientific research has determined that dyslexia results from a neurological/brain difference proven with a fMRI. Normal readers do not have symmetrical hemispheres. The left hemisphere is responsible for many functions related to language use and reading which accounts for it being 10% larger than the right hemisphere. However, the dyslexic’s right hemisphere is as large as the left, making their brain symmetrical. The right side of the brain is associated with creativity. Scientists believe this finding is one reason people with dyslexia often have tremendous strengths controlled by the right-brain, such as artistic, athletic, mechanical, 3-D visualization, music, problem solving, and highly intuitive. This test reveals, unlike a normal reader, parts of a dyslexics right side of the brain light up and become active during reading. While the typical areas of the left hemisphere do not.
The dominant gene on the short arm of chromosome #6, DCDC2, is responsible for dyslexia, making it highly heritable.
Auditory Processing and Dyslexia
"When we look at the definition, characteristics and effects of dyslexia, we see a huge overlap with ADP. Dyslexics’ reading and writing problems begin with weak speech sound processing. English is built on a foundation of 44 speech sounds represented by 26 letters and used to spell more than 600,000 words. A person who cannot distinguish speech sounds — whether because of APD, dyslexia or another cause — will experience a cascade of problems related to language."
Listen Up: Abnormality In Auditory Processing Underlies Dyslexia
Science and research supports specific and intensive reading methods for the intervention and remediation of dyslexia.
What is taught
Phonology and phonological awareness
Phonology is the study of sounds and how they work within their environment. A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound in a given language that can be recognized as being distinct from other sounds in the language. Phonological awareness is the understanding of the internal linguistic structure of words. An important aspect of phonological awareness is phonemic awareness or the ability to segment words into their component sounds.
This is the knowledge of the various sounds in the English language and their correspondence to the letters and combinations of letters which represent those sounds. Sound-symbol association must be taught (and mastered) in two directions: visual to auditory and auditory to visual. Additionally, students must master the blending of sounds and letters into words as well as the segmenting of whole words into the individual sounds.
A syllable is a unit of oral or written language with one vowel sound. Instruction must include the teaching of the six basic types of syllables in the English Language: closed, vowel- consonant-e, open, consonant-le, r-controlled, and diphthong. Syllable division rules must be directly taught in relation to the word structure.
Morphology is the study of how morphemes are combined from words. A morpheme is the smallest unit of meaning in the language. The curriculum must include the study of base words, roots, and affixes.
Syntax is the set of principles that dictate the sequence and function of words in a sentence in order to convey meaning. This includes grammar, sentence variation and the mechanics of language.
Semantics is that aspect of language concerned with meaning. The curriculum (from the beginning) must include instruction in the comprehension of written language.
How it is taught
Simultaneous, multisensory (VAKT)
Teaching is done using all learning pathways in the brain (visual/auditory, kinesthetic-tactile) simultaneously in order to enhance memory and learning.
Systematic and cumulative
Multisensory language instruction requires that the organization of material follows the logical order of the language. The sequence must begin with the easiest and most basic elements and progress methodically to more difficult material. Each step must also be based on those already learned. Concepts taught must be systematically reviewed to strengthen memory.
The inferential learning of any concept cannot be taken for granted. Multisensory language instruction requires the direct teaching of all concepts with continuous student-teacher interaction.
The teacher must be adept at prescriptive or individualized teaching. The teaching plan is based on careful and continuous assessment of the individual's needs. The content presented must be mastered to the degree of automaticity.
Synthetic and analytic instruction
Multisensory, structured language programs include both synthetic and analytic instruction. Synthetic instruction presents the parts of the language and then teaches how the parts work together to form a whole. Analytic instruction presents the whole and teaches how this can be broken down into its component parts.
According to the National Teacher Education Task Force of the International Dyslexia Association, multisensory structured language programs should include the following content and be taught with the following principles of instruction.