Perspectives on Learning Disabilities: Biological, Cognitive, Contextual

By Robert J. Sternberg; Louise Spear-Swerling | Go to book overview

2
The Biological Foundations of Developmental Dyslexia

Elena L. Grigorenko

As you read these words, you are not experiencing any conscious effort on your part. On the contrary, you let the words transport you from reading per se into the world of ideas and imagination. You allow the words to link to each other and create a story, and what you experience and comprehend is the story, not single words. This description is suitable only for a person who has mastered reading, for whom the process of reading words has become automatic. The experience of reading is completely different for children who have just learned how to read, for adults who are trying to master reading in a foreign language, and for those who have general difficulties in mastering reading in their native language.

At first glance the Browns are a typical American family. Adam is a carpenter and Kate is a school speech specialist. They have five children: two boys, 12 and 6, and three girls, 11, 9, and 6. The youngest kids are twins. What makes the Browns different is that several of them have trouble reading.

When Adam was a child, that is, more than twenty years ago, he had serious problems at school related to his inability to master reading. Fortunately, his parents were well-off enough to send him to a reading specialist, who worked with him for over four years, helping him to learn how to read. Adam made it through high school but did not even consider the idea of going to college--it was difficult for him to picture himself wading through all those books and papers one needs to read in order to get a college degree. Now his oldest boy and nine-year-old daughter have similar problems. Adam's older daughter seems to be doing well in school: She earns straight A's at school and just loves reading. The other two kids, his twins, are simply too young to judge. Adam says that he is worried about them, though. His older children are getting

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