By Hans Dekkers
Topic keywords: reading struggles, early indentification, early intervention, recommended practice, dyslexia.
The brain is very specific: A good badminton or racket player is not automatically a good tennis player. Reading forms one of the most complex multi-discipline cognitive processes known, and it needs to be trained specifically. In the last fifteen years different methods have been experimented which do not directly focus on reading, but rather try to build on brain plasticity to somehow transfer skills from certain exercises to the reading skills. Think of brain training exercises, balance exercises, motor skill exercises, brain integration exercises, and so forth. Reputable science has sadly proven that none of these are effective as the premier method to bring a struggling reader to functional literacy. Again, the brain is specific, and reading needs to be trained specifically.
Further, the fast majority of reading struggles share the common core of phonological decoding deficit (we're talking 90% of cases). Though there may be other challenges and complexities at play, directly addressing the reality of the phonological decoding deficit is going to reap the largest gain in the fast majority of children. So I am not saying that those alternative approaches will be absolutely of no benefit in training certain skills, but I can say with reputable science behind me that such training will not make a dent in addressing reading problems (in most children).
That fourth stage (more testing) will likely only be reached by--say--10% of students reaching stage 3, at the most.
If anything should be done outside of the aforementioned, I would recommend focusing on identifying and developing the strength of such a child. I know e.g. a seven year old who is tremendous in tennis. Others may be quite talented in music, or arts, in fishing, or anything. When reading struggles are deep, the path to reach functional literacy is long. The stronger the inner core of a child, strengthened by their knowledge of skills and talents in other fields, the more likely they will walk and complete the path. I cannot over-stress the importance of this.
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Watch a 10 min video explaining very clearly what Dyslexia is, and how it affects your child.
Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin.
It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and / or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.