By Elisabeth Tarica in The Age of May 31, 2010
“A NATION as self-confident as Australia doesn’t expect to receive lessons in advanced education practices from such humble places as Irvinestown, a small village two hours west of Belfast in Northern Ireland.”
Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/national/education/seeking-a-new-deal-on-dyslexia-20100528-wl5z.html
There are many audio resources out there. It is often easier for people with dyslexia to listen to these rather than to plough through pages of text. There are thousands of Audio Books which are easily available. You can listen to them as you drive, on your iphone or midiplayer.
For up to date news listen to Radio 2RPH and have a good look at their new website.
A NEW WEBSITE FOR 2RPH – Radio for Print Handicapped of NSW, Radio 2RPH has introduced a new website!
It is part of a process designed to attract new listeners and raise awareness of the very valuable service offered by the station, which has been broadcasting in Sydney for over 28 years!
Providing live readings of newspapers, books and magazines mainly for people with a print disability, Radio 2RPH is totally volunteer run and is funded by the government and by donations, memberships, bequests and sponsorship, the station is always on the lookout for new funding sources!
The new website is highly interactive, provides an up to date program guide, information about the station, its volunteers and its history!
In the past websites have been considered a luxury, nowadays they are regarded as an essential tool and can provide an extra point of contact and information for interested groups.
The station broadcasts 24 hours per day throughout Sydney, Newcastle and the Lower Hunter Region, a wide range of material both live and pre-recorded. Making up to 58 unique recordings of magazines and journals weekly, Radio 2RPH must be one of the most prolific community radio stations in the region!
Listen on either 1224AM or 100.5FM and don’t forget to visit www.2rph.org.au!
The 2RPH Team
Visualizing How We Read
By Carl Sherman
March 25, 2011
(With Kind Permission from the Author)-as quoted by DANA brain research organisation
Neuroimaging is opening a window onto how we learn to read. Acquiring this complex, demanding skill, researchers find, is a richly orchestrated process that recruits and connects diverse brain regions.
Ultimately, they hope, what’s learned in the laboratory will guide more powerful teaching methods adapted to the quirks and variations of individual children’s brains.
Dyslexia has drawn the most attention. Earlier research identified defective phonological processing—a relative inability to break words into their component sounds—as the core problem, while other studies focused on visual areas that recognize the shapes of words (the left temporal-occipital cortex, or “visual word-form area”). Researchers are now looking more closely at how parts of the brain that process letters and language sounds work together.
“When looking at letters and words, skilled readers activate a specialized part of the visual system in a way that dyslexic readers typically don’t. One thing that is driving this effect may be its coordination with the phonological system,” says Bruce McCandliss, chair of psychology and human development at Vanderbilt University. As the reader seeks phonological information from print, “it puts pressure on the visual system to reorganize and deliver that information in more and more effective ways.”
In an fMRI study reported in the March 2010 Cerebral Cortex, McCandliss and his colleagues recorded brain activity in the visual systems of literate adults who were asked to judge whether spoken words rhymed. “We saw massive top-down, very specific activation of the visual word-form area,” he said. The fact that a part of the visual network was engaged by attending to phonology suggests that “these two systems really come to interact” in fluent readers.
Another study, which appeared in the March 2010 Brain, identified differences between dyslexics and normal readers in brain functions linked to sight-sound integration. Researchers led by Vera Blau, then at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, examined activation patterns when school-age children simultaneously looked at letters and heard sounds.
Among fluent readers, several areas (including the interface between the visual and auditory cortex) were more strongly activated by “congruent” combinations—the sounds and letters matched—than by incongruent ones. No such difference was seen in dyslexic children.
“To become a fluent reader you need to develop an automated integrated representation of how the specific letter on the page corresponds to a particular speech sound,” she says.
Differences between dyslexics
Other researchers are exploring the neurobiology behind one of the mysteries of dyslexia—its varying course. About one-fifth of dyslexic children eventually develop adequate reading skills, and standard testing has limited success in identifying those most likely to progress, says Fumiko Hoeft, of Stanford University, lead author of a paper in the Jan. 4 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Hoeft and her colleagues conducted fMRI studies to measure brain activity as 25 young adolescents with dyslexia performed a reading task, and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) studies of white matter fibers that linked various parts of the brain. Two and half years later, they retested the adolescents’ reading abilities.
Analysis of initial scans showed that differences in activation of a right frontal area, and anatomical differences in nerve tracts linking front and rear parts of right hemisphere could distinguish with 72% accuracy those dyslexics whose reading improvement would be better than average when retested. A more sophisticated analysis that compared activation patterns across the entire brain predicted reading success with over 90% accuracy.
Hoeft noted that corresponding frontal areas of the left hemisphere play an apparently important role when fluent readers read. The successful readers in her study “might be using the right hemisphere to compensate,” she said.
By the same token, “the equivalent white matter fibers in the left hemisphere are known to be important for language learning” in normal readers, she said, and right hemisphere tracts might have taken over their function in compensated dyslexics.
The fact that whole brain analysis provided the most accurate prediction of subsequent success confirmed that “many parts of the brain other than frontal areas are essential in reading, including some we might not have predicted,” Hoeft said.
Martha Denckla, professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins University, praised the research and observed that for the youths in the study, at least, “the neural substrate for improvement seemed to be in the right hemisphere system.” But she noted that recent, as yet unpublished research using different measures of brain function found that left, not right frontal activation predicted reading success.
“The problem is that we’re dealing with such a moving target,” said Denckla, also a member of the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives. “How to define dyslexia is always a question: do you include reading comprehension? Spelling? If you have 10 researchers, you have 11 opinions.” And age is a factor: A similar study with younger children might have had different results.
Denckla hopes to see the emergence of biomarkers for more reliable and objective definitions of dyslexia and reading readiness than behavioral tests can provide. Brain imaging studies like Hoeft’s and, ultimately, genetic studies could help identify children who might be “dyslexic” in the first grade but biologically ready for reading instruction several years later.
Neuroscience may perform an even more central service in helping educators teach more effectively. “Educational activities play a potentially key role in shaping the brain reorganization” underlying learning to read, “and some activities may be working better than others,” said McCandliss.
Ideally, research will help clarify “what aspects of the learning experience wind up being crucial for driving change in brain circuitry,” he says. “What is the teaching process? What makes an effective teacher so effective in transforming the mind of a learner?”
Researchers who had identified structural and functional differences between dyslexics and skilled readers, “are now asking whether reading intervention brings about anatomical and functional brain changes that we can evaluate with these same tools,” says Guinevere Eden, director of the Center for the Study of Learning at Georgetown University, and president of the International Dyslexia Association.
Her own research, reported in the Oct. 26, 2010, NeuroImage, linked increases in grey matter volume to reading improvement following intensive tutoring. But the question remains: “If I learn a particular brain area is involved [in learning to read], does that mean I would change the type of intervention or aspects of its administration?” she says.
Vera Blau, whose research identified deficits in sight-sound integration among dyslexics, is exploring this question as well. In a follow-up study, her team scanned dyslexic children before and after training that focused on phonological awareness and word-sound relationships. They are currently analyzing the data; if, as they expect, the second scan shows a pattern closer to what they see in normal readers, “it would make a case for offering audio-visual interventions early on,” Blau says.
Another goal of educational neuroscience is to clarify differences among learners, McCandliss says. Understanding how neural connections between language and visual systems differ from one child to another, for example, may enable teachers to tailor reading instruction more effectively.
For all the excitement engendered by neuroimaging studies, “we need to recognize that these are research tools right now,” says Eden, who as president of the IDA constantly hears questions from parents and educators about putting them to use. “It’s easy to overreact. We have a lot of work ahead of us.”
Martha Denckla thinks that neuroscience may serve education best simply as the voice of reason. Recent dyslexia studies suggest that “biology is destiny… you can’t neglect underlying brain circuity as a factor, and rosy optimism about wonderful interventions should be limited by neurobiology,” she says.
Realism about brain development could counter the social pressures that have driven school systems to teach reading earlier and earlier. “They are doing enormous harm by blithely disregarding neurological readiness to learn these skills,” Denckla says. Correcting their misguided enthusiasm “is a very important thing neuroscience has to do.”
If neuroscience can inform education, the relationship is bidirectional, McCandliss observes; unraveling the complexities of reading can open up insights into how the brain works.
He cited a recent fMRI study of people who learned to read as adults. As reported in the Dec. 3, 2010, Science, the researchers found that the fusiform gyrus, an area associated with shape recognition, was more responsive to words and letters in these individuals, compared to their peers who remained illiterate—an observation that had been made before. But this area was also less responsive to faces, in the new readers.
“Looking at an educational process added to our general understanding of functional reorganization in the adult brain,” McCandliss says. “That’s exciting.”
Australian Government Dyslexia Site gives links to Auspeld and The Australian Dyslexia Association
Dyslexia is a type of specific learning disability where a person demonstrates difficulty with spelling, word recognition, reading and written comprehension. People with dyslexia have difficulty with learning an association between a written letter or word, and the sounds required to say them. This concept is referred to as “phonological coding.”
Dyslexia is not linked to lower intellectual functioning and people with dyslexia often demonstrate better than average spatial skills. Dyslexia also has varying degrees of severity.
Symptoms and characteristics:
Typical symptoms of dyslexia in adulthood include:
reading, spelling and written comprehension difficulties
a dislike of reading books, instructions or information
an avoidance of reading and writing tasks
a better than average memory to compensate for writing
being more creatively or mathematically inclined.
It is important to remember that people who experience difficulty with reading and writing may not necessarily have dyslexia. There may be other contributing factors such as: health issues, language barriers, disrupted education, or other disorders such as attention deficiency hyperactivity disorder.
For more information on some of these symptoms and characteristics, follow this link:
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
Workplace adjustments and solutions:
There are various factors that would greatly assist people with dyslexia to better manage in the workplace. These include providing support when necessary, for example, during situations of increased stress. This support may be in the form of accommodations such as:
restructuring job tasks to minimise reading and writing
allowing written materials to be accessed via alternative methods such as audio CD or a computer ‘speaking’ the information presented
providing aids such as laptops with voice recognition software to minimise the need for handwriting and accurate spelling or the use of task picture or symbols boards rather than written words
allowing for additional time for training or training to be presented in alternative methods.
(The International Dyslexia Association 2007; Better Health Channel 2007).
Better Health Channel 2007, Dyslexia explained, State Government of Victoria, Melbourne, viewed 6 March 2009,
The International Dyslexia Association 2007, Frequently Asked Questions About Dyslexia, The International Dyslexia Association, Baltimore, viewed 6 March 2009,
Would you like more information?
Specific learning disabilities
The author of this account wishes to remain anonymous.
29 March 2010
I am a mother of an 11yr old boy with dyslexia. The information below is a brief history of his schooling in a DET school.
When he started kindergarten he was already diagnosed with ADHD and in the first few weeks of school saw a private psychologist to get a full psychosemetric assessment because there was a concern he may have Aspergers syndrome (He has an older brother with autism and ADHD). The assessment came back with him having a superior IQ being in the 96 percentile for IQ. It also stated that he was low to below average on the K-SEALS for Numbers, Letter & Words and Letter & Word skills. He also had slight articulation problems. The school was given this assessment. After 6 month he finally settled into kindergarten.
In Yr 1 we realised he still was not picking up words and reading properly. We then placed him in speech therapy for the entire school year to help with this problem. His teacher was aware of his issues and knew about the speech therapy and at the end of the year he was given the most improved award in his class at the school presentation day. He had progressed from bottom of class to just below average.
In yr 2 his new teacher sent us a letter saying that he and a few other students were to be placed in a special reading group due to his below average reading skills. He was with the STLA for this and this group met once a week for 1 term. Outside of school we had stopped speech therapy and at our son’s request had started on the Dore program. He made good progress with the Dore program and in 2 months jumped 3 reading levels (after sitting at 1 level for over 6 months). He then jumped another 2 reading levels in another 2 months. His fine and gross motor skills increased and he stopped tantrumming and lashing out with anger at the smallest thing. He also calmed down alot and could focus on academic activities better. In his school reading group his teacher told me he was the most improved among the children.
At the end of yr 2 he was assessed by the school counsellor. I filled out the consent form asking them to check his dyslexic type learning difficulties. The school councillor did another IQ test and our son was now in the above average range for IQ at the 93rd percentile for IQ. The school counsellor did not pick up that my son had a learning difficulty although his word identification was below his chronological age and was incostsitant with his word attack score and his IQ. (He also received a visual auditory learning score of 20 yrs and he was 7 yr 10months). The recommendation was to monitor his reading.
In yr 3 I approached his teacher and explained about his dyslexic type learning difficulty and how with his high IQ it has made him very anxious and that he was behind in his reading for his age and that it affected his spelling. The teacher said he would monitor it. He also called my son’s spelling very creative. We finished the Dore program during this year and did an 8 week stint on behavioural optometry to help our son further. We corrected his tracking and scanning problems and confusion with left and right.
In yr 4 his new teacher approached us and said our son has a learning difficulty and tried the coloured paper test for irlen syndrome. I explained based on the behavioural optometrist’s assessment that he does not have irlen syndrome but when he reads a word he only processes 2 letters at a time and has to put words together and gets it wrong instead of reading 1 word at a time like average readers. This is why his spelling of words is all out of order. I am not sure of what help she gave him during the year but she was well aware of his problem. She had him for 3 terms. We did no outside intervention that year.
His yr 5 teacher was the same teacher he had in yr3. I still went to the teacher and explained his problem. I was concerned a child with his IQ should not be performing as poorly as he did and have such problems with homework writing and spelling tasks that he did. I was told he was doing fine and not to worry. We did no outside intevetention with our son that year. His naplan results had his maths in band 8. His reading was in band 7. His writing and language conventions were in low band 5 and below both state and school averages and I still believed inconsistent with a child with his IQ. He was struggling at school with his spelling and reading and this affected his writing.
In yr 6 we were approached by his teacher who was the same teacher he had in year 2 and had put him in the special reading groups back then. She recommended he sit for the test for the selective yr 7 class for the local high school. When I explained with his dyslexia he would fail the test she replied “does he have dyslexia? It’s not in his file.” She said he should still sit for the test based on his IQ and his reading problems aren’t that bad. The high school wanted a report stating he had dyslexia so that it could be taken into consideration. We had an educational consultant do this report as we had no previous report that stated he had the learning difficulty of dyslexia. The report came back that our son had superior ability in oral comprehension, story recall and vocabulary. His oral comprehension was greater than 30yrs but his writing samples were 9yrs 9 months, his chronological age at the time was 11yrs 2 months. His word attack scores were lower than those done by school councillor a few years before. There was this huge gap between what he understood and could say and what he could put on paper and read. I then gave this report to his teacher and she was surprised at the gap and she said the school counsellor would call me.
The school councillor who called was different from the one who assess him back in yr2. She told me that the STLA said that my son reads quite well and that the school wasn’t aware my son has any learning difficulties. She said there was no funding available for a diagnosis of dyslexia. She said that the learning support team (which included the STLA and his teacher who wasn’t aware he had dyslexia) would discuss his case the next time they met but could not guarantee any help could be provided. She suggested I continue to seek help outside the school as I have done in the past. She also said when she has time she will reaccsses his reading skills since there is a discrepancy between what I am telling them and what the school STLA says. We are now waiting on her to do this assessment which should be early next term.
Another interesting day as a parent of a child with a learning difficulty /
disability. After a meeting with my child’s DP, STLA, Year adviser, school
cousellor yad, yada yesterday and being told my child who is 5 years behind
in reading doesn’t qualify for reading software on her laptop as she doesn’t
have a disability…. I have finally found someone who can give me some
answers regarding software for the laptops.
Basically what the Disabilities Directorate have stated is that the DER NSW
Policy point 3.7 states that students with specific learning difficulties
can get specific software put onto the laptops. The school is meant to
provide the software and the DER – Stephen Pullman- will unlock the laptop
and load the software. We are asking for TextHelp Read and Write Gold. Full
list of software approved by DER below. Will see how we go – nothing is
certain in the DET…
Approved software:- Texthelp Read & Write Gold, Zoomtext, iZoom, WYNN, JAWS,
NVDA, Window Eyes, Penfriend, Dragon Naturally Speaking.
I would suggest parents contact Cheryl Stambolis or Diane Robertson for
further details.T: 92668463, F: 92668527
Assisting Students with Learning Difficulties (Current Policies and Procedures document)
This policy applies to all staff employed in NSW public schools, regions and state offices. It also applies to students who attend public schools and has implications for each school community.
1.3 Students experiencing difficulties in learning will have differing levels of educational need, which may require the provision of one or more educational support services over varying periods of time.
1.4 Prime responsibility for meeting the specific learning needs of students with difficulties in basic areas of learning lies with the school and the classroom teacher.
The policy documents confirm that the NSW Department of Education &Training has accepted responsibility for educating those with learning difficulties.
As parents, educators and people with dyslexia, our role is to hold them accountable as to how they fulfil their responsibility.
PRINCIPLES: ASSISTING STUDENTS WITH LEARNING DIFFICULTIES (from current DET document downloaded 9/03/2011
Key principles underpinning support for students experiencing difficulties in learning, regardless of the cause:
• Students with specific learning needs are entitled to acquire the knowledge. skills, understandings, values and recognised credentials that enable them to participate in a changing society
• The Department, through its state offices, regions and schools, is responsible for the quality development and delivery of inclusive education and training for students with learning difficulties
• Students experiencing difficulties in learning may need accommodations and learning adjustments to enable them to access and participate in learning on the same basis as other students
• The equitable allocation of resources based on need is essential to meet the additional educational needs of students with difficulties in learning.
Recent Interesting Articles
“Boy sues government for failing to educate him”
Posted Mon Mar 7, 2011 7:09pm AEDT
Exciting Forum at UNESCO in Paris puts dyslexia on the world stage! /www.worlddyslexiaforum.org/