Wednesday, June 6, 2012

New Dyslexia Findings

Many children are referred to SkyVision Centers with a diagnosis of dyslexia. Both parents and physicians wonder if the dyslexia is either caused by a vision problem, or if spectacles might be able to help the dyslexic child read better. On occasion we will see a child who does have a need for reading glasses, and like all children with this need wearing a pair of glasses will help. However, the need to wear reading glasses is not the cause of the dyslexia, nor will the glasses cure the problem.

Our eyes "collect" images and then send them to the back of the brain where we actually "see". Most of what happens in the eye doctors office is trying to make the images that are collected as clear as possible. Glasses, contact lenses, LASIK and cataract surgery are all part of this effort. Healthy eyes will send a clear image to the vision center in our brain. It's very rare for children to not have a healthy vision center, and even a child with dyslexia will "see" an image correctly.

The problem in dyslexia occurs then the image is "processed", when what is seen must be interpreted. For example the figures in "CAT" must be interpreted as a C, an A, and a T, and they must then be put together and interpreted as "cat". In the simplest of terms this is where things go off the rail when a child with dyslexia is reading.

New research findings both confirm this understanding of dyslexia and provide a strategy to help a dyslexic child read better and faster. It turns out that children with dyslexia can read faster and with greater accuracy if the letters in text are more widely spaced. The improvement is immediate and is equal to what you would see from a full year of school.

Standard spacing that works for accomplished readers may seem crowded to the dyslexic reader. This will in turn cause them to take longer to translate or interpret the letters, and make more mistakes because the characters blend together. When you increase the spacing the reading speed increases "on the fly" according to the researchers. These findings could have immediate practical implications since it is so easy to alter the font size, type size, and spacing in any electronic media. You can search for a free app on Apple products called "DYS".

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