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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Quick Individualized Solutions for Struggling and Dyslexic Readers

There is no single reading program or method that will address all the needs of struggling readers, because each learner has his or her own unique strengths and weaknesses.  In fact, there are many cognitive processing weaknesses that can effect young learners and if you want quick and optimal results, it’s important to pursue a comprehensive evaluation.  A good assessment will help uncover the areas of difficulty.  Then educational professionals, such as an experienced reading specialist or educational therapist can focus on strengthening those specific areas of cognition. 

What Are Some of The Cognitive Processing Areas That Impact Reading?
There are many cognitive processing areas that can impact reading.  Here are the most common:

Tracking: is the ability of the eyes to follow the movement of an object in motion or follow words across the page from left to right.
Visual Synthesis – is the ability to pull the pieces together to create a visual whole.
Visual Closure - is the ability to identify or recognize a symbol or object when the entire object is not visible.
Visual Discrimination - is the ability to discriminate between visible likeness and differences in size, shape, pattern, form, position, and color. 
Visual Reasoning - is the ability to understand and analyze visual information. 
Visual Memory - is the ability to recall what has been seen.
Visual Sequencing  - is the ability to recall the sequence of symbols, letters or numbers that have been seen.
Attention to Visual Details - is the ability to attend to and recognize all the information and fine points presented in an image.
Auditory Discrimination - is the ability to detect differences in sounds.
Auditory Memory - is the ability to remember the details of what is heard.
Auditory Sequencing - is the ability to remember the order of information in which it was heard.
Auditory Closure - is the ability to “fill in the gaps” and decipher a word or message when a part is distorted or missing.
Sound Symbol Association - is the ability to connect a sound with a symbol or letter.
Word Retrieval - is the ability to rapidly and precisely express ideas into specific words.
Receptive Language - is the ability to accurately understand language that is seen or heard.
Mental Flexibility - is the ability to shift our thoughts in order to respond effectively to any given situation.

Comprehensive Reading Programs Work, But Are They The Best Solution?
No one would suggest a whole body workout, if you just had a weak bicep.  Although a whole body workout would help in many ways, it will be a long process and your bicep may never receive the intensive work it needs to catch up with the rest of your body.  Likewise, a reading program is always beneficial, but it will probably take time and it may never strengthen the specific cognitive areas that need the most attention. 

How Can Specific Cognitive Areas Be Strengthened? 
To strengthen specific areas of cognition, it is important to do repeated activities that exercise those areas of the brain.  For example, if you need to improve a student's tracking abilities, he or she would need to do a lot of activities that would require their eyes to follow from left to right and follow objects in motion.  Likewise, to improve visual discrimination, a student would need to complete a lot of activities that would require the processing of similar images.  They would need to learn to practice and uncover likenesses and differences. 

What Are Some Specific Tools Professionals, Teachers and Parents Can Use?
To help make this process easier, I have designed a series of specific cognitive activities and games in a series of publications called Reversing Reversals.  The first publication in the Series, Reversing Reversal Primary, offers cognitive training materials for young learners that are struggling with letters and numbers, as well as those that are showing signs of dyslexia or other learning disabilities.  This product includes fun activities and games that use animals which will truly please and entice students.  Young learners will not even realize that they are working on the foundational skills that are necessary to learn basic math and reading.  The next product is Reversing Reversals Beginners and Reversing Reversals.  This integrates letters and numbers into the activities and games.  Finally, Reversing Reversals 2 continues to offer more activities which work with letters, numbers and even symbols.   Other options include my Following Directions Series, Executive Functioning Games, and Working Memory Series. Free samplings of the activities are also available on the product pages.  

I hope you found this helpful!  I would love to hear your thoughts!!
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Go Dyslexia, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to https://godyslexia.com/www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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