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Special Reading Training Helps Dyslexia

Improved Reading Skill Seen Soon After Intensive Instruction
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Brain Patterns Similar

Before the special reading instruction, the dyslexic children in the study showed less brain activation than normal in tests administered while performing morphologic awareness tasks. Brain patterns increased to normal levels, however, following the three weeks of intensive instruction.

In a news release, lead researcher Elizabeth Aylward, PhD, noted that the special instruction doesn't result in a "rewiring" of the brain, as some experts have suggested. Rather, it strengthens the normal brain circuits that are already in use.

"Our findings showed that morphologic processing is very important in helping children learn to read," Richards says in the release. "But that doesn't mean that phonological processing isn't important."

International Dyslexia Association Executive Director J. Thomas Viall says new research has forced people to rethink their notion of neurologic development and the treatment of reading disorders.

"What we are beginning to understand is that the brain is incredibly adaptive," he tells WebMD. "In the case of dyslexia, where the brain is not well structured to perform the task of reading, we are finding that the brain develops alternative pathways to make reading possible."

Viall says early diagnosis and instruction are critical for children with dyslexia.

"Seventy-five percent of kids who leave third grade reading below their grade level struggle with reading their whole lives," he says. "Reading is the key to educational success, and educational success is the key to economic success. A child who leaves school with poor reading skills is, in most cases, doomed to a life of unemployment and underemployment."

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