Magazine article Science News

Dyslexia: Reading Words, Missing Letters

Magazine article Science News

Dyslexia: Reading Words, Missing Letters

Article excerpt

By about age 9, children who encounter no major problems in learning to read attach a wide array of letters and letter combinations to their corresponding sounds within words. But this ability eludes dyslexics -- even those who manage to become fairly good readers -- and apparently impairs fluent word recognition throughout their lives, according to a report in the September DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY.

"Although dyslexics take longer to read and understand words, they can still improve their reading skills and accomplish much," asserts psychologist Maggie Bruck of McGill University in Montreal. "The bad news is that a core problem in dealing with letters and their corresponding sounds doesn't go away."

No good evidence exists as to whether instruction that emphasizes the ways in which "sounds hang on to letters" substantially improves the reading skills of adult dyslexics, Bruck notes.

The causes and exact nature of dyslexia remain uncertain. Bruck and many other researchers define it as a disorder in which a healthy person with a normal IQ exhibits word recognition and other reading skills far below standard levels for his or her age. Some educators view dyslexia as a condition that affects all facets of language, including reading, writing, and listening.

Bruck's sample consisted of 36 dyslexic children between ages 8 and 16 attending a reading disorders clinic, 39 adults with childhood diagnoses of dyslexia made at the same clinic, and 63 good readers (43 children between ages 8 and 10, and 20 college students).

Comparisons of dyslexics with good readers of the same age or the same reading level indicated that dyslexics always lag far behind in the ability to match letters to individual sounds that make up words. However, as dyslexics get better at recognizing words, they compare favorably with good readers on tests of knowledge about larger segments within words, such as syllables. …

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