What is dyslexia? Isn’t that a new car model: The Toyota Dyslexia? Not quite. Dyslexia is a brain-based language disorder (‘dys’ meaning ‘bad’ and ‘lexi’ meaning ‘words’), which current research suggests affects as many as 1 in 5 people to some degree. Aside from the difficulties with language-based activities such as reading, those with dyslexia are also known to possess above average intelligence, creativity and ability to think logically. These attributes have fueled the phrase, “The gift of dyslexia” (though not often used by dyslexic youths struggling to read).
Because it is a brain-based disorder, there is no cure for dyslexia, but there are instructional methods, such as the Orton-Gillingham approach, which provide specific strategies and skills proven to be highly successful. The effectiveness of this approach is due to the engagement of the visual, auditory, tactile (touch) and kinesthetic (muscle movement) learning pathways during instruction. When dyslexics are taught to read using direct, explicit, systematic, multisensory phonics instruction, research using functional MRI (fMRI) brain imaging literally shows us that the impact on the brain is significant. The brain activity of the dyslexic readers appears more and more like the brain activity of the non-dyslexic readers. These formerly weak readers are literally building new pathways for learning in their brains that were not present before instruction occurred. For learning disabled and ADHD individuals, these instructional methods give them specific strategies and skills to work effectively with their learning differences, allowing them to become successful readers and spellers, significantly impacting their schoolwork and lifelong success.
Consider yourself “dyslexia aware!”
Laurie Wagner is the Director of Education for Reading and Language Arts Centers (RLAC) and Nick Smith is the Director of Tutoring. RLAC has nine tutoring centers located throughout the Metro Detroit area. RLAC's Phonics First® tutoring services provide individualized instruction to learners who either struggle with or seek enrichment in any academic subject.
For more information on the tutoring services available in the Ann Arbor area, please call 248-645-9690, or visit the website, www.rlac.com.