Once upon a time in Education Land there was a wise king named Success. He wanted above all else to have his subjects succeed in life and be happy. After much thought about how to gain this goal, he came upon the idea that having a good educational system for his subjects would be a good place to start. Gathering all of his advisers together a plan was developed to build the best educational system possible. The future looked bright for Education Land.
Word went out to find the best teachers , the best builders and the best book makers and soon the books were printed and the schools were built and teachers made their lesson plans. All of the kingdom's children were required to attend because the king wanted all to succeed.
Time passed by and it was many years before the King went to inspect the schools and see how well his plan was working. At first he was very pleased because the teachers brought out the best students to show him what they had learned. He soon noticed that some students were not included in the demonstrations and asked the teachers why.
The teachers explained that some students kept falling behind because they wouldn't learn to read. Those students are slow or lazy and have refused to put out the effort to learn to read the teachers said. With their poor reading skills they can't learn their other subjects. It is not our fault if they won't learn.
The king wanted to believe the teachers. He had never heard of children who had trouble learning to read but he also wanted all the children to succeed so he took all those children back to the castle to talk to them.
After talking to the children he found that they didn't seem to be slow or lazy and they were really trying hard to learn to read. The King didn't know what to do so he called in all his advisers and asked for suggestions.
Maybe all children can't learn to read the same way said one. Maybe if we ask them what makes reading difficult for them they can tell us said another. Maybe if we can determine how they are different from the children that read well that might help said still another. All good suggestions said the King . I want you to start an investigation immediately.
The advisers called the condition dyslexia . The investigation is still going on.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
As simple as the question appears, a totally correct answer is not yet available. Dyslexia can best be considered as a syndrome that exhibits several different problems that make reading much more difficult for an individual. In a syndrome, each individual may or may not have any particular problem from a list of minor problems but must have the major defining problem of the syndrome. The major problem that defines dyslexia is difficulty acquiring the skills to read in a normal manner.
While dyslexia has not yet achieved an accepted medical status of being a syndrome it still is the best way to understand what dyslexia is. Conditions that are considered syndromes have a fixed list of minor problems and usually require that a particular minimum # have to be present along with the major problem to be diagnosed with the syndrome.
The reason dyslexia is not yet considered a syndrome is that there has been no agreement on what particular minor problems need to be included in the list or how many need to be present to define the syndrome. Most people reading this have seen the lists of problems associated with dyslexia and noticed that no two lists of problems are the same. Only time will tell what the final medically accepted list of minor problems will be or how many of those need to be present before a diagnosis meets the standard.
Each individual minor problem also needs to be defined and measurable before dyslexia will finally be considered as a syndrome. Minor problems like delayed speech and poor short term memory ( as examples ) are possible useful ideas associated with some dyslexics but what what does that mean. How delayed is delayed and to what degree are questions that will need to be answered or what standard will measure short term memory problems.
Media reports of researchers that study dyslexia factors typicaly report that they have found the cause of dyslexia at the expense of ignoring all previous studies. This causes much confusion among anyone looking to understand "What is dyslexia?" because the answers seem to keep changing.
Reading dyslexia studies rather than media reports of dyslexia studies builds a different better picture of what is known about dyslexia. Considering that the value of each individual study is that they actually investigate specific minor problems of the dyslexia syndrome makes understanding the results easier. What dyslexia research is doing is building the minor problem list by the determination of whether the aspect studied is actually associated with dyslexia.
I am not comfortable with the conclusion that is widely reported that only high IQ people may be dyslexic. That statement only becomes true if diagnosed is added. Diagnosed dyslexics generally have average or above average IQs . It is likely that some disadvantaged poor children with more limited language exposure and lower IQs may very well be dyslexic also and would benefit from dyslexia intervention also. Basically, without even a suggested mechanism for dyslexia only occurring in high IQ individuals I don't think it can be very productive to eliminate lower IQ individuals from consideration for dyslexia.
Here are some factors that can cause reading problems for dyslexics. (Using a generalized approach as each can be broken down to smaller specifics.)
1) phonological problems- difficulty hearing the difference in the sounds that make up words.
2) language processing problems- difficulty processing sounds as language.
3) visual processing problems- difficulty seeing the page in a clear, focused and stable manner.
4) mental processing problems indirectly related to the above such as short term memory and executive decision making problems and others.
Back to the question, dyslexia is a syndrome that, for an individual, can have different amounts of reading dysfunction caused by a combination of the above problems. The severity and impact of each problem will vary from individual to individual.Some individuals have as their cause 1 predominate problem and little effect from others.
New dyslexia research that is promising for understanding dyslexia is that many dyslexia problems may be initially caused by a generalized problem with filtering out extraneous information or noise. Noise is usually considered as sound but visual noise is a valid concept as well. Looked at another way it may be better to replace the idea of poor filtration of noise with higher sensitivity to noise.
The observation of dyslexics having more difficulty hearing what is being said across a noisy crowded room than non dyslexics was the basis for the development of experiments to determine if poor noise filtration may be an aspect of dyslexia. The results indicate that very well be the case. It doesn't take a great leap to speculate that a higher sensitivity to sound noise may be causing language development problems leading to dyslexia from a young age. Hard to quantify but certainly possible is that modern life is more sound polluted than the past. Some have proposed that some dyslexic students may benefit from using headphones to hear their teachers voice broadcasted to eliminate classroom noise and having a quiet place to study.
Other experiments have investigated dyslexics and non-dyslexics and their ability to perform visual tasks with increasing visual noise by using electronic snow on computer screens. Many dyslexics show a higher sensitivity to the visual snow than the non-dyslexics.
While sound noise is generally external, I believe visual noise is caused by autofluorescent proteins in the eye that can change a photon of visual information into a photon of visual noise by changing the original path. By filtering out the different wavelengths associated with the autofluorescent proteins the visual noise is extinguished. Because the locations of the protein are fixed in individual eyes the individual visual dyslexic usually has a constant specific visual problem that can be described and eliminated.
I sell See Right Dyslexia Glasses that remove described visual problems for dyslexics. Only a minority of dyslexics have visual processing problems that are predominate. The dyslexics that can describe a visual problem that makes reading difficult can have that problem removed by these dyslexia glasses. They have a money back guarantee and require no personal evaluation. More information about these glasses is available at www.dyslexiaglasses.com .
Thursday, January 7, 2010
For many years now dyslexia researchers have assumed that the differences in brain activity and structure observed by fMRI scans between groups of dyslexics and non-dyslexics have been caused by dyslexia. I've never seen the question raised about whether these differences could be the result of dyslexia.
Granted, scanning many many babies to determine whether or not the babies have dyslexic brains and then retesting them later after school experiences would be an expensive time-consuming study. That would however help answer the question of whether or not the brain differences first existed in the babies or whether the normal readers were the ones that actually changed.
I've always been impressed with researchers that see unique opportunities to answer difficult questions in a much easier way.The following paragraph is from a story in the New York Times.http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/03/magazine/03Braille-t.html?pagewanted=2&hpw
'Learning to read is so entwined in the normal course of child development that it is easy to assume that our brains are naturally wired for print literacy. But humans have been reading for fewer than 6,000 years (and literacy has been widespread for no more than a century and a half). The activity of reading itself alters the anatomy of the brain. In a report released in 2009 in the journal Nature, the neuroscientist Manuel Carreiras studies illiterate former guerrillas in Colombia who, after years of combat, had abandoned their weapons, left the jungle and rejoined civilization. Carreiras compares 20 adults who had recently completed a literacy program with 22 people who had not yet begun it. In M.R.I. scans of their brains, the newly literate subjects showed more gray matter in their angular gyri, an area crucial for language processing, and more white matter in part of the corpus callosum, which links the two hemispheres. Deficiencies in these regions were previously observed in dyslexics, and the study suggests that those brain patterns weren’t the cause of their illiteracy, as had been hypothesized, but a result.'
There have been studies about what is called brain plasticity showing that the dyslexic brain can become more like the non-dyslexic brain with reading interventions. That seems to be consistent with the above study.
I'm sure more studies need to be done to confirm that it is the literacy that actually changes the brain rather than dyslexia being a neurological brain difference at least as described by most dyslexia researchers today.
It's likely that the present-day thought is not totally off the mark. But it is also likely that the brain differences so often promoted as being the cause of dyslexia are not entirely correct.
My speculation is that there is an as yet unidentified noise filter function of the brain that makes reading more difficult and is what we call dyslexia. There's been recent research that certainly shows that a likely cause of the phonological processing problems of dyslexics is due to their difficulty separating out sounds in a noisy background. The mechanism behind the difficulty has yet to be discovered.
I have long promoted the concept of visual noise as the cause of visual dyslexia and also the mechanism by which my See Right Dyslexia Glasses remove those visual problems by filtering out the wavelengths of light that caused the visual noise.
For a generalized concept of auditory and visual noise generating the dyslexic's primary assorted problems it is probably best to consider it a higher sensitivity to the noise or a filtering problem.
In the final analysis, it looks like another paradigm of what causes dyslexia is going to be needed.