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Building better brains

February 20, 2014
Q. Are children diagnosed with dyslexia destined to struggle with reading their entire lives?

A. Research confirms effective reading instruction literally reorganizes the brains of struggling readers. Especially effective is the engagement of the visual, auditory, tactile and kinesthetic (muscle movement) learning pathways. When struggling learners are taught to read using direct, explicit, systematic, multisensory phonics instruction, research using functional MRI (fMRI) brain imaging literally shows us the impact on the brain is significant.

In 1998, Sally Shaywitz, a leader in the field of dyslexia and reading, released reading research done at Yale University’s Center for Learning and Attention. Observing brain imaging during the reading process through the use of fMRIs explicitly showed skilled readers consistently use specific portions of the left-brain, with brain activity highly focused in very specific areas during reading tasks. Brain imaging in weak readers shows diffused activity scattered throughout the brain; much less efficient for reading.

Furthermore, studies have shown instruction using direct, explicit, systematic, multisensory phonics actually changes how these weak readers utilize pathways in the brain for reading. This type of instruction significantly enhances students’ overall reading accuracy and fluency. The brain activity of the weak readers appears more like the brain activity of the skilled readers. These formerly weak readers are developing focused “reading systems” in their brains that were not present before instruction occurred.

Early identification and intervention in kindergarten and grade one using this research-based instruction prevents many at-risk students from ever struggling with reading. This kind of proven, effective instruction for older students who already struggle with reading skills acquisition can reverse the ongoing difficulties, changing those learners into more competent readers. For learning disabled and ADD individuals, these instructional methods give them specific strategies and skills to work effectively with their learning differences, allowing them to become successful readers and spellers, significantly impacting their schoolwork and lifelong success. Additional studies supporting these results have been conducted in many research facilities, including a team led by Guinevere Eden, associate professor of pediatrics at the General Clinical Research Center at Georgetown University Medical Center, continues today, refining what we know about how the brain reads.

Save the Date

Building Better Brains – Teaching Strategies that Work for Dyslexic and ADD Students

Time: 7 p.m.

Date: Feb. 27

Location: Barnes School

Cost: Free

Register: familycenterweb.org

Information: call

313) 432-3832

Presented by

The Family Center

The Family Center serves as the community’s hub for information, resources and referral for both families and professionals. Its mission is to serve our community through programs and resources vital to today’s families guided by the motto “enriched communities through stronger families.”

It is a non-profit organization, all gifts are tax-deductible.

To volunteer, contribute or for more information, contact familycenterweb.org, call (313) 432-3832 or write to: The Family Center, 20090 Morningside Drive, Grosse Pointe Woods, MI 48236.

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