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dyselexia

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chinese
You often come across comments about dyslexia in China being different to dyslexia elsewhere. This was reported in some research commented on in the Economist:

But being dyslexic in Chinese is not the same as being dyslexic in English, according to Wai Ting Siok of Hong Kong University. Her team’s MRI studies showed that dyslexia among users of alphabetic scripts such as English and of logographic ones such as Chinese was associated with different parts of the brain, just as different parts of the brain were involved in reading the two types of language. Chinese reading uses more of a frontal part of the left hemisphere of the brain (called the left middle frontal region), whereas reading languages with an alphabet uses a posterior part of the brain (the left temporoparietal region).

When you learn to read English, you need to decode or sound out words; that is each visual form of the letter or combination of letters gets mapped to the sound of a word. In the Chinese language, the words are graphic and are not sounded out or decoded. The letter to sound conversion of the English language does hot happen in Chinese.

Our daughter is excelling in Chinese at her school. It is now obvious why!

  • Posted on 20. September 2014
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The world was saddened last week to learn of the tragic death of Robin Williams. He had dyslexia.

He did joke about it. On the Carson show in the 1980’s, during an interview, he said:

On Halloween I’d say ‘trick or trout,’ they’d say, ‘Oh, it’s the Williams boy, give him some fish’.

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university
This bit of new research is good to know about. A just published study from the the journal, European Psychiatry, used a self selected online survey of students at university in the disciplines of Engineering, Medical, Law, and Dentistry found that:

5/18 (28%) Engineering students classified themselves as dyslexic in comparison to 7/46 (15%) Medical students, 1/22 (5%) Law students and 1/11 (9%) of Dentistry students

In other words: dyslexia is common in these “high performing” disciplines. That is good to know and augers well for my daughters future!

Citation:
T.I. Lemon & R.D. Shah: Dyslexia in high performers – a study across 4 degree disciplines. European Psychiatry Volume 29, Supplement 1 , Page 1, 2014.

  • Posted on 11. August 2014
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karaoke
This weekend brought on a problem that we were not expecting. The little one went to a school friends birthday party. All was good until they moved to a karaoke room, well, she obviously could not read the words of the songs, even though she knew a lot of the songs. All the girls were up dancing and singing and my little one became very withdrawn and did not participate. It was heartbreaking. I got her on my knee to talk to her, she said she was angry that she could not take part. Before the party it just did not occur to us that this was going to be a problem. With hindsight, of course it was going to be an issue and maybe we could have prepared for it. We will certainly know for next time. One thing I have learnt about this age group is that the social relationships are complex as they do not yet have all the skills to deal with the complexities and understand the social signals. Being dyslexic in this type of situation is another layer on top of those complexities.

The real challenge is that she became very withdrawn and this is going to be of concern if it happens too often. So want did I do? I went to Dr Google to look up dyslexia and karaoke and was surprised what I found. Lots of reading to do. We will look at integrating some karaoke into her learning plan later (its pretty full at the moment), especially if this can be fun. There are even some apps available that display words in karaoke style to help with the reading. There are so many apps and software for both the PC and Mac on karaoke, I going to get a few to see what happens.

  • Posted on 21. July 2014
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We started out with our daughter being diagnosed with an auditory processing disorder (which is common in those with dyslexia); she was too young at that stage to have the dyslexia label attached. We worked on the auditory processing problem until the dyslexia diagnosis and then changed track to manage that. I just read this research on auditory processing in musicians who were dyslexic:

Auditory Temporal Processing Skills in Musicians with Dyslexia
Paula Bishop-Liebler, Graham Welch, Martina Huss, Jennifer M. Thomson and Usha Goswami
Dyslexia; Volume 20, Issue 3, pages 261–279, August 2014
The core cognitive difficulty in developmental dyslexia involves phonological processing, but adults and children with dyslexia also have sensory impairments. Impairments in basic auditory processing show particular links with phonological impairments, and recent studies with dyslexic children across languages reveal a relationship between auditory temporal processing and sensitivity to rhythmic timing and speech rhythm. As rhythm is explicit in music, musical training might have a beneficial effect on the auditory perception of acoustic cues to rhythm in dyslexia. Here we took advantage of the presence of musicians with and without dyslexia in musical conservatoires, comparing their auditory temporal processing abilities with those of dyslexic non-musicians matched for cognitive ability. Musicians with dyslexia showed equivalent auditory sensitivity to musicians without dyslexia and also showed equivalent rhythm perception. The data support the view that extensive rhythmic experience initiated during childhood (here in the form of music training) can affect basic auditory processing skills which are found to be deficient in individuals with dyslexia

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Music or singing lessons is just something that we have not done with our daughter. This research seems to suggest that we probably should consider this.

  • Posted on 16. July 2014
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This is disconcerting! A new study from the University of Toronto reported in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence showed that 35% of adults with dyslexia had suffered some form of physical abuse prior to the age of 18 years. Only 7% of the non-dyslexic group reported similar abuse. That a five-fold difference!

From the press release:

Our data do not allow us to know the direction of the association. It is possible that for some children, the presence of dyslexia and related learning problems may place them at relatively higher risk for physical abuse, perhaps due to adult frustrations with chronic learning failure” said study co-author, Stephen Hooper, professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, and Associate Dean and Chair of Allied Health Sciences at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. “Alternatively, given the known association between brain dysfunction and maltreatment, it could be that the experience of physical abuse may also contribute to and/or exacerbate such learning problems, secondary to increased neurologic burden.

Link to study.

This study does not determine if there is a causal or a correlation relationship, its is still a problem to be concerned about.

  • Posted on 3. July 2014
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Mona LisaEvery few weeks I like to introduce her to another famous person who has dyslexia and discuss them with her. The first we introduced her to was Leonardo DaVinci.  We just happened to be in France and the Mona Lisa is hanging in the Louvre!  DaVinci is widely believed to have had dyslexia. One group of researchers even believes that the secret of his success was his dyslexia. One of the researchers said:

Many dyslexic people prefer to work out problems by thinking and doing rather than speaking. This could help dyslexic men develop the kind of skills they need to succeed in the artistic and creative worlds

My personal favorite of DaVinci’s work is the Vitruvian Man:
Vitruvian Man

More on Leonardo Da Vinci

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