Monday, September 9, 2013

Dyslexia Dialogue

After four long summers, I'm finally finishing up my Master's in Literacy Instruction this year. However, I still have to complete my large professional project before I'm done.

My project is going to be a booklet (and a bucket-load of research and one very long paper) about dyslexia. It's a subject I've been interested since my first year of teaching when a student a student with dyslexia (and just about every year since). It's a topic that most teachers unfortunately do not know much about because the little training we received was from research done a while ago.

A lot has changed in the area of dyslexia research in the last few much that the amount of research is very overwhelming. My project will mostly focus on the background research of dyslexia (genetics, brain info, possible causes) and how classroom teachers can look for signs of dyslexia at the early grade levels K-2, so they don't have to get behind in school before they are noticed.

So, just in case some of you want to learn more about dyslexia, I'll be posting a few highlights from my weekly research visits to the library (hopefully each week :)). Here's a bit not only from this week, but from my whole summer-long research.

Thanks to  I Teach. What's Your Super Power for the pretty papers.

- The function MRI can show that there are differences in the brain when a person with dyslexia reads compared to a person without. This dispels the old belief that there really is no such thing as dyslexia and it's just simply when students don't read well.

- Dyslexia is largely genetic. While some of the genetics are not known for sure yet, we can show that around 60% of students with dyslexia also have a parent with dyslexia (unfortunately this is not always helpful yet as many of the parents don't know they have dyslexia...).

- Dyslexia and ADHD have some of the same genetic makeup and are often comorbid disorders (two medical diagnoses at the same time). Many students that have dyslexia also have ADHD and vise versa. Some studies have shown that as much as 40% - 60% have dyslexia and ADHD together, though usually are not as hyperactive as a student with just ADHD (especially girls).

- Early detection is key, because there are still studies showing that while we can teach students to read accurately at any age, fluency is hard to teach past a certain age, and some students may never learn to be fluent readers.

- One of the early factors that can be detected in students at risk for dyslexia is that they were late talkers. While children can start talking late and catch up, students at risk for dyslexia have a hard time acquiring new verbs at the same rate as other children around ages 2 - 3.

That's all for tonight. Please send me a comment below if you have any questions (or comments) about dyslexia. Anything you're curious about will help me be able to guide my research and have a particular area to focus on in the upcoming weeks.

Resources (all summarizing is in my own words...if you want the real things, here are some sources to check out):

Germanò, E., Gagliano, A., & Curatolo, P. (2010). Comorbidity of ADHD and Dyslexia. Developmental neuropsychology35(5), 475–493. doi:10.1080/875656412010494748

Koster, C., Been, P. H., & Diepstra, H. D. (2005). Differences at 17 Months : Productive Familial Risk for Dyslexia and, 48(April), 426–439.

Lyytinen, H., Ahonen, T., Eklund, K., Guttorm, T., Kulju, P., Laakso, M. L., … Viholainen, H. (2004). Early development of children at familial risk for dyslexia--follow-up from birth to school age. Dyslexia (Chichester, England)10(3), 146–78. doi:10.1002/dys.274

Shaywitz, S. E., & Shaywitz, B. a. (2008). Paying attention to reading: the neurobiology of reading and dyslexia. Development and psychopathology20(4), 1329–49. doi:10.1017/S0954579408000631

Van Alphen, P., de Bree, E., Gerrits, E., de Jong, J., Wilsenach, C., & Wijnen, F. (2004). Early language development in children with a genetic risk of dyslexia. Dyslexia (Chichester, England)10(4), 265–88. doi:10.1002/dys.272

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