Why is reading so hard for some kids?
Brain Science and Dyslexia Therapy
When readers struggle with decoding text, there's a disconnect between how the brain processes sounds (phonemes) and the symbols that represent those sounds (graphemes; aka "letters'). This disconnect is what characterizes dyslexia.
Dyslexia is a language processing disorder with roots in underdeveloped phonemic awareness and the processing of the sound-symbol relationship. In the dyslexic brain, the neural pathways between the part of the brain that decodes the symbols of text and the part of the brain that synthesizes meaning from those symbols aren’t as developed as they meet to be for fluent reading.
About 20% of the population is estimated to struggle with dyslexia, and while it's unrelated to the ability to comprehend spoken language, it interferes with all aspects of the reading process, leaving students bewildered and frustrated. Words are skipped, guessed at, or read incorrectly. Reading speed is so slow that the beginning of a sentence may be forgotten by the time the end is reached. So ultimately, reading comprehension suffers.
Dyslexia can't be addressed with even the best phonics program, or the most enthusiastic teacher; effective treatment requires specialized knowledge, accurate assessment, and time to build those neural connections. The English language is orthographically and morphologically complex, and while some students naturally intuit the structure beneath the words, if you're dyslexic... you don't.
With The Active Reader, students showing symptoms of dyslexia learn not just to read and comprehend text, but to understand why it behaves the way it does, and how to apply tools and techniques that enable them to read well.
The next step is to apply this knowledge in focused, intense practice.
Dyslexia is fascinating and mysterious. A dyslexic reader may read "with" correctly twice in context, and then be unable to decipher it the third time. She may add sounds to consonant blends for no apparent reason. He may skip seemingly unimportant words that carry subtle structural importance. She may say "stand" and write "strand"... three times in a row.
In order to address this, Active Reader students get custom-made practice materials that isolate and target their specific weaknesses. It may be as minute as being unable to distinguish the /n/ sound in a consonant blend, or as global as understanding what a syllable is; whatever it is, Active Reader therapy will find it, and target it.
Dyslexia therapy is not like traditional tutoring. Is more like physical therapy, in that recovery depends on diagnosing the source of the weakness, and strengthening that specific area. It takes a skilled therapist to find that weakness, and to target it effectively. Once it's strong, the parts of the brain begin to communicate effectively, and reading starts to become automatic.
Automaticity is crucial to comprehension, for several reasons. First of all, if you're struggling to decode every other word, you're not going to want to read. Period. And if you don't read, you don't get better at it. You won't be exposed to all the vocabulary embedded in books and stories, and vocabulary is linked to comprehension.
Furthermore, if you have to read (which of course, you will), it will be harder to understand what you're reading. You will read more slowly, and this has a significant impact on comprehension. Slow readers can’t concern themselves with identifying the subject of a sentence when they're still hacking their way through the first difficult word they encounter. And of course, slow reading means it takes forever for just to get through an assignment -- let alone understand it. Active Readers are faster readers.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: if you're reading this, you're already on the right path. By taking early action, you are preventing deficits from becoming disorders. You are preventing reading from becoming an endless source of frustration and shame. For a struggling reader, every day in school can create or reinforce the belief that "Something's wrong with me. I'll never be able to read like a normal kid. School is stupid... and so am I."
That does not have to be your child's story. Unlock literacy with The Active Reader, and give your child the gift of confidence. It's a gift that changes lives.
Reading in America
Maybe you know the stats; there are tons of them, but here are a few that are particularly powerful:
Thirty-four percent of American fourth-graders can't read.
34% test below proficiency.
Only 32% read well.
IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY.
Reading shouldn't be this hard. And in fact, it's not.
Reading and writing are complex processes that challenge many students, but with the right instruction, and plenty of targeted practice,
literacy is within reach.
It's possible for students across the country, and it's possible for the child you love. There are no quick fixes, and no shortcuts. But there are answers, and there is hope. Plenty of it.