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A lifeline for dyslexic reading help?

A new toolkit of reading books is making a difference to how dyslexic children learn to read, and recently released research into the brain may be showing why it is succeeding to such a great extent.

Dyslexia is a condition that remains shrouded in mystery, and yet neuroscientists are continuing to make small progressive steps to understand these differences in the brain.

Dr Laurie Glezer, at the Georgetown University Medical Centre has been leading a research project into how the brain processes words. When we read, our brains are instantly able to recognise words because we have stored them in a ‘visual dictionary’, and one camp of neuroscientists believes that we also pick up the sound of the word (phonology) at the same time.

However, Dr Glezer’s teams have been monitoring brain activity whilst the reading activity takes place, and their findings clearly suggest that all we use is the visual information of a word and not the sounds. These findings could help in understanding and treating dyslexia.

Emma Plackett and Helena Rogers of Reading Revival Ltd have developed a reading toolkit that they claim has consistently helped dyslexic children learn to read when everything else schools had used had failed. Interestingly, it does not rely on a phonics approach, but encourages children to build a ‘visual dictionary’ of words.

This is achieved with carefully crafted reading books for children, blending plenty of practice with words already learned with a carefully managed sprinkling of new words to increase reading confidence. Not only that, but they have consistently show that a child with reading difficulties can reach a reading age of no ability to that of approximately a seven year old in around one to two terms.

This new research is now shedding light on why it is essential to take an open-minded approach when deciding how to help a child to reading fluency. If this simple toolkit can make such a difference using a whole word methodology, and if it maximises the brain’s natural ability, we should be embracing any way that helps children achieve their learning potential.

Emma Plackett