Widening our perceptions of reading and writing difficulties

Dec 08, 2010

Learning to read and write are complex processes, which can be disrupted in various ways, leading to disorders known as dyslexia and dysgraphia. Two new studies, published in a recent special issue of Elsevier's Cortex (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/00109452) provide evidence of this variety, suggesting that effective treatment needs to take it into account.

A group of researchers from the Universities of Bari and Rome in Italy studied the reading and writing abilities of 33 Italian dyslexic children, comparing their performance with that of children with normal . Italian is an "orthographically transparent" language, meaning that letters tend to correspond to the same sounds, whereas many letters in the English alphabet change their sound from word to word (like the "c" in car and city). However, the new study showed that even in Italian, in which it is relatively straightforward to convert sounds into letters, children still have difficulties in spelling. Younger children with dyslexia generally performed worse than proficient readers; however, the older ones showed a more selective impairment when spelling words, suggesting that knowledge of vocabulary may be more important in spelling than previously thought.

The other study, from Tel Aviv University, Israel, provided the first systematic description of a type of reading disorder called "attentional dyslexia" in which children identify letters correctly, but the letters jump between words on the page, e.g., "kind wing" is read as "wind king". Teachers and neuropsychologists often notice that children substitute letters when reading, but in this type of dyslexia the substitutions are not caused by inability to identify letters or convert them to sounds; they result from migrations of letters between words. The findings showed that letters would mostly migrate to the same position in another word, so the first letter of one word would switch places with the first letter of another word. Awareness to the existence of this type of is important, because it suggests a straightforward way to assist these in reading - by presenting a ‎single word at a time, e.g., with the help of a word-sized window cut in a piece of cardboard.

Explore further: Coping skills training in rheumaotoid arthritis research recognized by BSBS of MI

Related Stories

Unraveling the roots of dyslexia

Mar 12, 2009

By peering into the brains of people with dyslexia compared to normal readers, a study published online on March 12th in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, has shed new light on the roots of the learning disability, which ...

Adults with dyslexia have problems with non-speech sounds too

Jun 01, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Dyslexia is usually associated with persistent reading, spelling, and sometimes speech difficulties that are hard to overcome. One theory proposed to explain the condition is that people with dyslexia suffer ...

Recommended for you

How men and women see each other when online dating

1 hour ago

In the world of online dating, nothing is as it seems. But that doesn't stop many of us from leaping to the wrong conclusions about people. A recent paper presented at the Annual Conference of the International ...

We trust kids to know what gender they are

1 hour ago

I will start by asking two questions: at what age did you know your gender, and do you think someone else had to tell you what it was? I'm director of mental health at a leading gender clinic in the US. Our clinic is a half-decade old – and in that short pe ...

Your smartphone could be good for your mental health

2 hours ago

When it comes to mental health, technologies such as smartphones and social media networks are almost always discussed in terms of the dangers they pose. Alongside concerns expressed in the media, some experts believe that technology has a role in the rising rates of mental health problems. However, there is ...

Why male suicides outnumber female

2 hours ago

Finally, Drummond had everything he'd ever dreamed of. He'd come a long way since he was a little boy, upset at his failure to get into the grammar school. That had been a great disappointment to his mother, ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.