What is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that has neurological roots. It primarily affects one’s ability to read. People with dyslexia have difficulty with accurate and fluent word recognition. They also tend to have poor spelling and decoding abilities. It is not uncommon for two or more children in a family to have dyslexia. One person might have mild dyslexia while the next person can have a profound case of it.
It is estimated that Dyslexia affects 20-30 percent of our population. Even though people with dyslexia have average to above average intelligence, their dyslexia creates problems with reading, speaking, thinking, and listening. This, in turn, can create emotional problems and self-esteem issues throughout their life. Self-esteem can be a contributing factor for low grades and overall under achievement.
The main difficulty for dyslexic students is poor phonemic awareness. Phonemic awareness is when the listener is able to hear, identify and manipulate phonemes, the smallest units of sound that can differentiate meaning. Separating the spoken word “bat” into three distinct phonemes, /b/, /a/, and /t/, requires phonemic awareness. A dyslexic student’s brain may only hear one or two of those three sounds. Developing phonemic awareness is the first step in learning to read.
The problem in reading doesn’t lie in how the student “sees” the word. For example: A student that sees the word “SAW” doesn’t see it as “WAS”, they have trouble manipulating the word and sounding it out in the correct order. They must look at words in parts, meaning they must break the word into syllables. The student spends so much time decoding that their reading speed tends to be a lot slower than other students in class.
An understanding how the brain functions is helpful in understanding the brain of someone with Dyslexia. The brain is divided into 2 hemispheres. The left hemisphere is in charge of language and ultimately reading. The right side of the brain generally handles spatial activities. Research has found that those with dyslexia rely more on the right side of the brain and frontal lobe than those without it. When a person with dyslexia reads a word, it takes it a longer time to get to the left side of the brain where it is being processed. It can get delayed in the frontal lobe of the brain. Because of this neurobiological glitch, they read with more difficulty.
The good news is those with Dyslexia can physically change the way their brain functions with multi-sensory intervention and cognitive therapy. They can be trained how to effectively use the left side of their brain and thus improve reading.
Learning Enhancement Center offers such training. We have a proven 13 year track record in helping children and adults with Dyslexia.
Call today for an assessment and consultation (903) 597-7500
What is Brain Training?
What is Brain Training? What Happens When We Learn?
Brain training is a simple but powerful way to enhance a student’s core ability to learn faster, easier, and better. The brain processes information through a complex network of nerve cells called neurons. As we learn, groupings of neurons physically work together to accomplish learning or thinking tasks. Research shows that additional, nearby neurons are drawn into this process when the task is new or unfamiliar, or when the intensity of the learning demand is increased. Once the task is mastered, the borrowed neurons are released to go back to other duties; however, the gains in efficiency and processing speed required for that task are retained and make learning-related tasks easier.
What is Brain Training? The Key to Enhanced Learning
Neuroplasticity defines the brain’s ability to change and modify neuron activity and connections in reaction to increased learning demand. Gray matter can actually shrink or thicken, plus neural connections can be forged and refined or (conversely) weakened based on certain environmental activities. Brain training takes advantage of neuroplasticity by engaging a student in specially designed exercises to promote rapid strengthening and growth of these neuronal connections.
Cognitive Abilities such as attention, sensory processing, memory,and reasoning—can be increased with proper training. This increases immediate and future brain function, quicker processing, and easier learning across a wide range of learning challenges.
For the parents of a soon-to-be kindergartener, you might be a bit astounded by the reading goals your school has set for your child. Today’s parents are often shocked when they come to school for orientation and see what’s on the docket when it comes to reading. What happened to a full day of crayons? What happened to unlimited time in the sand box?
Without a doubt, the skills taught in kindergarten today look more like the skills taught in first grade a decade or two ago, especially when it comes to reading. But fret not, because these high reading expectations for young students are accompanied by very strategic teaching methods, and a meticulous progression of skills that build upon one another. Your child can meet the reading goals set by his teacher, especially if he’s on track when he first enters kindergarten. So, is he?
While every teacher and school has their own set of “prerequisites,” there’s a set of general reading expectations that most teachers share, when it comes to kids entering kindergarten. Before entering kindergarten, a student well prepared for reading should be able to:
- Read her name
- Recite the alphabet
- Recognize some or all of the letters in the alphabet
- Correspond some or all letters with their correct sound
- Make rhymes
- Hold a book right side up with the spine on the left, front cover showing
- Recognize that the progression of text is left to right, top to bottom
- Echo simple text that is read to them
- Recognize that text holds meaning
- Re-tell a favorite story
If your child is not quite steady in all of these areas, don’t panic! We offer “JumpStart” programs at Learning Enhancement Center. We teach reading skills in a systematic way that allows skills to build upon one another: The kindergarten year will start out strong with an intense teaching of letter recognition and sounds. This lends itself to beginning phonemic awareness skills, like sounding out words. Once a child can sound out simple words, we move on to showing them how to recognize patterns in words, such as rhyming, vowel/consonant patterns, and word families. If a kindergartener can recognize letters and sounds, use phonetic skills to sound out words, and use word patterns to figure out unknown words, she’s ready to read sentences and simple books.
The research is clear that ALL young people who don’t engage in educational activities over the summer can lose up to three months of reading progress and 2.6 months of math computation skills. That loss has a cumulative, long-term effect.
Teachers are all too familiar with this loss of knowledge and ability over the summer months when education is put on hold. Most teachers have to spend up to 6 weeks reviewing material and “catching” students back up to where they need to be functioning for the new school year.
The brain functions like a muscle and needs to be exercised so it won’t atrophy.
The following are some suggestions for summer activities.
I encourage parents to build reading and writing into everyday activities. Some ideas are: (1) watching TV with the sound off and closed captioning on, (2) reading directions for how to play a new game, or (3) helping with meals by writing up a grocery list, finding things in the grocery store, and reading the recipe aloud for mom or dad during cooking time.
Encourage writing. Give each of your students a stamped, addressed postcard so they can write to you about their summer adventures. Or recycle school notebooks and paper into summer journals or scrapbooks. Another way to engage young writers is to encourage your students to spend some time researching and writing stories about their community. Not only does it build research and writing skills, but helps kids develop a deeper sense of place.
Watch a garden grow. This builds research, reading, and writing skills. Children are encouraged to write questions and observations in a summer garden journal. Check out the website www.ReadWriteThink.org for some ideas along these lines. .
Looking for more than just a movie? The Kids Off the Couch website takes what kids love — good films, books, music and digital media — and uses it to inspire family adventures.
Plan ahead for fall. Work with the teachers a grade level above to develop a short list of what their new students have to look forward to when they return to school. For example, if rising third graders will be studying ancient cultures, check out educational TV, movies, or local museums that can provide valuable background information on that topic.
** Learning Enhancement Center is also offering their own 3-month, hour a day, summer program for kids of all ages.
The Science behind our training at Learning Enhancement Center
Years ago the science behind brain function and the ability of the brain to change its capacity for learning was a mystery. Through scientific research we now know that the brain and nervous system has to change structurally and functionally as a result of input from the environment. This is what is referred to as Neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is a term to describe the capacity of the brain to change and adapt, – to be plastic- and is also known as brain plasticity. The changes occur in response to stimuli, cognitive demands and new learning, and result in the brain creating new neural pathways and connections. It has now been proven that our brains have the lifelong ability to adapt and change.
Why our training is effective
Whenever you think, learn, or remember, groups of neurons in your brain physically work together to accomplish the task. If what you’re trying to do is difficult or unfamiliar, nearby neurons are drawn into the process to help accomplish the task.
Our programs target specific cognitive functions such as working memory, processing speed and fluid intelligence. Our students perform certain cognitive tasks that are intense, repeatable, adaptive and highly targeted. Well-designed brain training techniques like the ones we have developed at Learning Enhancement Center can achieve positive results for individuals of all ages.