Understand Dyslexia to Make Helping a Child Learn to Read Easy


Very few people really understand dyslexia. There is so much conflicting information and advice that it can be very hard to know what to do. That is a great pity because learning to read well is important for all of us.


This situation is caused by the complexity of underlying causes and patterns of dyslexia. When researching dyslexia you will often come across long lists of indicators of dyslexia, many of which seem to conflict. Most of us have at least one indicator of being dyslexic!


Our focus is to look at the underlying neural processes involved in reading. Once you understand those, it becomes far easier to understand the difficulties you see a dyslexic having. The puzzle of dyslexia begins to fall into place.


Example: A very common pattern in dyslexia is lots of guessing of words and atrocious spelling. This type of dyslexic will often read a long word more easily than a short one. They can sometimes seem to be able to read rather fast, always rushing along with lots of little omissions and errors. Their comprehension of the text tends to be low.


This can all seem quite strange, until you know why it is happening. A child with a strong visual memory will often learn to sight-memorize words as the easiest way of reading simple books with a repetitive vocabulary. Then they guess the words that they don't recognize from the context.


This is why the long words sometimes seem easier than short ones to this type of dyslexic; there are almost always more contextual clues to a long word. Spelling is hard for them because they are trying to recreate a picture of a word, not reconstruct it. They often do well in spelling tests however, because they have memorized the ten words overnight. A few days later those same words have gone again.

It is a little more complex to understand why their comprehension tends to be poor. Helene Goldnadel gives you some background on the neurology involved.


The brain processes happen in distinct areas of the brain. Comprehension of language happens mainly in Wernicke's area, which is linked into your auditory cortex beside your left ear. Your ability to speak and write is generated by Broca's area in your frontal lobe, a quite separate part of the brain.

When someone with this form of dyslexia is reading, you will find that their auditory cortex is not involved and so Wernicke's area is not strongly engaged.


The result is that you can sometimes listen to a dyslexic read some text quite accurately, without them having much or even any comprehension of it. But when we get them to engage their auditory cortex in the process their understanding of what they read rises fast.


Do you see how helpful understanding the underlying neural processes is? It can make the baffling patterns of dyslexia seem quite simple and obvious. The above example is just one of the 7 different causes of reading difficulty that we see.


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