The current understanding of dyslexia and interventions that work

In an article in edutopianeuroscientist Martha Burns reviews our understanding of dyslexia over the years until the present and offers some interesting insights into the recommended approaches to working with children with dyslexia and/or poor reading skills.  Interesting reading.

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3 Responses to “The current understanding of dyslexia and interventions that work”


  1. 1 Ron Teffaine October 25, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    Another factor to consider according to Dr. Virginia Berninger is orthographic awareness, which according to her definition of dyslexia involves orthographic processing (along with phonological awareness, good working memory, executive functioning, etc.). Even Dr. Sally Shaywitz’s brain scan studies back in the early 2000s showed that the Visual Word Form Area (VWFA) is severely underactive in students with dyslexia. Nanci Bell’s Seeing Stars program also follows this line of research by training the brain’s VWFA. It improves the brain’s symbol imagery and sequencing for letters to the point of automaticity, which in turn helps with reading fluency. Stanislas Dehaene mentioned that this is an important area of brain functioning since it is close to the planum temporale (PT), the area where phonemes are produced in the brain. The VWFA and PT work jointly to create the sound-symbol associations needed to efficiently recognize unfamiliar words to the point of automaticity. He also said in his book that the right visual field has a direct route to the VWFA, so presenting new sight words to students in this field may enhance the acquisition of new sight words. More recently, Dr. Sally Shaywitz has been doing research on attention’s role in dyslexia. So, there’s a bit more to dyslexia than just phonological awareness.

    • 2 Juanita M October 26, 2014 at 2:53 pm

      Thank you for rounding out the picture of our understanding of dyslexia, Ron. Hope others will read your comment and add to it!

    • 3 Ron Teffaine October 26, 2014 at 3:10 pm

      Correction for “Good” working memory. It should only read “working memory.” Dr. Virginia Berninger believes that those with dyslexia have difficulty integrating information in working memory as the brain tries to connect letters with sounds, and then with meaning. This requires executive control, which may be why kids with ADHD have a higher frequency of dyslexia.


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