About Reading & Reading Difficulties
Reading and writing are fundamental skills that every individual needs to possess. They provide the foundations for almost every area of personal and economic development.
Let’s take a look at how reading works, by examining the following:
The Ancient Egyptians are thought to have been the first civilization to develop a comprehensive writing system. Some ingredients of their system are still present in modern writing and reading development programs. Various cultures improved upon the cumbersome alphabet of pictures called hieroglyphics, but kept the idea of an alphabet system as the most efficient way to convey written information. Most major language systems today, with the exception of the Chinese, Japanese and Hindu syllabic systems, use an alphabetic system.
Most importantly, since ancient times almost all alphabetical systems have been taught “phonically” – that is, according to a systematic classification of the sounds of the spoken language. The exception is English, which has been taught in most classrooms of the past forty years as if it were a pictographic system.
There are three main causes for reading difficulties:
This is an inability to discriminate sound patterns within a word and/or an inability to categorize such sounds. It is often the result of Otis Media infections of the middle ear during early childhood.
This condition can subtly but adversely affect the hearing at a time when the brain is working at making sense out of speech sounds. This means that the quality of the sound pattern getting to the child’s auditory centers in the brain is not as clear as it should be and subsequently some speech frequencies may not be fully analyzed and categorized by the brain.
Although this can affect literary development both in the long- and the short-term, remedial programming is fairly easy using the Beacon program, which builds auditory discrimination of speech sounds.
The patterns or categories are an integral part of the program, which covers all the major speech sounds and most common spelling rules.
Reading difficulties often reflect, or are symptomatic of, a mismatch between an individual’s preferred learning style and the way in which they are being taught.
Some people learn best by looking (visual), some by listening (auditory) and some by physically doing (kinesthetic). Some do best by combining all three.
When all three sense systems are used in the learning process, learning is more effective.
Dyslexia is used to describe a situation where a student is experiencing unexpected difficulties in acquiring literacy skills. The problem is unexpected in the sense that the student seems to be effective in most other learning situations.
Dyslexia can be found in children and adults across all ranges of ability and intelligence.
It is important that a proper diagnosis of dyslexia is made by a qualified psychologist who is experienced in this area. However, the primary symptoms of the three main types of dyslexia are as follows:
Alexic - the Rarest Form of Dyslexia (Mixed Dyseidetic/Dysphonetic):
Typically progress is very slow and inconsistent; the outlook for these children is very poor compared to the other main types of dyslexia. They require a 'true' multi sensory system that can 'reprogram' those parts of the visual and auditory sense systems that deal with the underlying processes of reading and spelling.
There is also a fourth, very rare, type of dyslexia, known as kinesthetic, involving problems with fine motor control and speech in addition to difficulties in handling print.
Dyslexia can be overlaid or mixed with other learning difficulties, such as ADD, and the two conditions are often associated. Interestingly, students who have effectively been treated for dyslexia have experienced significant improvements in the symptoms of ADD as their literacy skills and self-confidence as learners improved.
The Beacon Literacy Development Program has been outstandingly successful in dealing with all of the above reading problems. The program bridges the gap between learning preference and the achievement of recognition and phonemic skills by using a Self-Voice Feedback strategy; a multi-sensory technique which uses the student’s own voice to ensure sensory-appropriate interpretation of an alphabetically structured language.