Building Better Brains!

Ask the Experts by Laurie Wagner, Education Specialist

Q: Are children diagnosed with dyslexia destined to struggle with reading their entire lives?

A: Research confirms that effective reading instruction literally reorganizes the brains of struggling readers. Especially effective is the engagement of the visual, auditory, tactile (touch) 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 that the impact on the brain is significant.

In 1998, Dr. 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 that 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 that 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 and 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 Dr. Guinevere Eden, associate professor of pediatrics at the General Clinical Research Center at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and continues today, constantly refining what we know about how the brain reads.

Laurie Wagner is an Education Specialist with RLAC - Reading and Language Arts Centers. RLAC's tutoring and educational consulting services provide individualized instruction to learners who either struggle with or seek enrichment in any academic subject. For more information on the tutoring services available in the Grosse Pointe area, please call 313-640-9472, or visit the website, RLAC is a member of The Family Center’s Association of Professionals.

Save the Date

Presented by The Family Center

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

February 27, 2014, 7pm
Barnes School, 20090 Morningside Dr., Grosse Pointe Woods FREE

REGISTER online at INFO: (313) 432-3832

Download more about the events available this evening >>

Enriching Our Community Through Stronger Families
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