Sunday, 24 June 2012

New research shows promise for children with dyslexics

What is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a language based problem Dyslexia is a language based problem characterised by a persistent difficulty with reading and spelling. Symptoms include difficulties learning letter-sound relationships, slow and effortful reading and making many mistakes when reading and spelling.

It is largely independent of IQ, meaning that someone with a high or low IQ can have dyslexia. One way that dyslexia is identified is a significant discrepancy between IQ and scores on standardised tests of reading and spelling.

Dyslexia is thought to affect as many as 10% of Australians.

While it does not affect intelligence or learning capacity directly, reading difficulties can affect learning in the classroom as children who can't read well find it hard to keep up with the rest of the class and often have difficulties with not only English but other subjects, particularly those that require absorbing a lot of written information.

A new study has found something that may help!

Researchers from the Department of General Psychology at the Unitersity of Padova have found that reading materials with spacing between the letters can help dyslexic children read faster and better. They found that extra wide letter spacing doubled the reading accuracy and increased reading speed by 20 percent in a sample of 94 dyslexic children aged between 8 and 14 years.

It appears that this approach worked because children with dyslexia are more affected by letter spacing: when letters are too close together they have difficulty identifying letters.

Children without dyslexia did not benefit from the extra wide spacing.

The researchers advised that extra letter spacing could be a way to get children with dyslexia to read more, which is a key way of improving reading skills.

"Practitioners only know too well that getting dyslexic children to read more is a key component in achieving long-lasting improvements in reading skills," says the study. "Extra large letter spacing, which could even be optimised adaptively on an individual basis, can certainly contribute to achieving this goal."

To learn more about dyslexia, see our video explaining dyslexia and what Henry Winkler (Fonzie from Happy Days) did to help manage his condition.


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