Pieces of the Puzzle

The Mystery Brain

The brain has been researched by doctors and scientists for hundreds of years, and yet there are still mysteries we cannot explain. As it relates to dyslexia, there are five areas of the brain that contribute to language. Therefore, one child might be weak in two areas and another child weak in the other three areas. No two dyslexic children are the same. You could line up 1,000 dyslexic kids and none would be the same. Because each one may be weak in any combination of these five areas and to different degrees, their abilities will be different. THEREFORE, each child must be taught differently. What works for one child, will not work for the next. The OG approach allows for CUSTOMIZING lessons and goals for each child according to their needs. Most parents want a “silver bullet” or something to “fix it.” It is very important to understand that there is NO “one size fits all.” It is very important to find an OG tutor who can assess and meet the needs of your child.

Left Brain Hemisphere

Which brain areas are involved in reading?

The International Dyslexia Assoc. does an amazing job keeping up with cutting edge science and research as it relates to this topic. Here is their explanation of reading and the brain: “Since reading is a cultural invention that arose after the evolution of modern humans, no single location within the brain serves as a reading center. Instead, brain regions that subserve other functions, such as spoken language and object recognition, are redirected (rather than innately specified) for the purpose of reading (Dehaene & Cohen, 2007). Reading involves multiple cognitive processes, two of which have been of particular interest to researchers: 1) grapheme-phoneme mapping in which combinations of letters (graphemes) are mapped onto their corresponding sounds (phonemes) and the words are thus “decoded,” and 2) visual word form recognition for mapping of familiar words onto their mental representations. Together, these processes allow us to pronounce words and gain access to meaning. In accordance with these cognitive processes, studies in adults and children have demonstrated that reading is supported by a network of regions in the left hemisphere (Price, 2012), including the occipito-temporal, temporo-parietal, and inferior frontal cortices. The occipito-temporal cortex holds the “visual word form area.” Both the temporo-parietal and inferior frontal cortices play a role in phonological and semantic processing of words, with inferior frontal cortex also involved in the formation of speech sounds. These areas have been shown to change as we age (Turkeltaub, et al., 2003) and are altered in people with dyslexia (Richlan et al., 2011).”

For more details about the brain as it relates to reading and dyslexia, go to: https://dyslexiaida.org/dyslexia-and-the-brain-fact-sheet/

Now what?

Many parents want to know what they can DO to help their child strengthen the weak areas of the brain. Scarborough’s research in 2001 remains a solid visual for all the concepts that work together in a reading brain. Many of these things can be done in preschool years as we are laying the groundwork for language. Reading out loud to your child creates opportunities for them to hear rhythm and rhyme. It creates conversations about vocabulary and repetitious sounds. Do NOT underestimate the time spent with a child- at any age- and sharing a good book. As they become school-aged, however, the next key component in being a skilled reader is phonological awareness. Again, some of this can be done at home but the classroom teacher needs to be intentional on building these concepts that will lead to segmenting and blending sounds, letter-sound correspondence, and orthographic mapping. As a parent, you have the right to know what curriculum teachers are using, and if they cover the concepts on Scarborough’s rope. There are many things parents can do at home, but if you are concerned that your child is “not getting it” between school instruction and home support, you should seek guidance and possibly further evaluation.

My Last Two Cents

The reason why the Orton-Gillingham approach meets the needs of struggling learners is that it encompasses all the strands that Scarborough outlines with Language Comprehension and Word Recognition.  All the research supports and points to these methods to help students learn to read, write, and spell and be successful academically. All of these pieces work together to create a skilled reader.