According to the International Dyslexia Association, dyslexia is a learning disability characterized bydifficulties in word recognition, decoding, and spelling.
Younger students with dyslexia struggle with sounds, but understand the meaning of words. This explains why students with dyslexia are often described as bright and articulate, yet their written work does not show evidence of this.
Students with dyslexia have deficits in phonological awareness, an important building block for reading. Phonological awareness is ability to connect letters to sounds. It means that you know the letter “c” makes the sound /k/, “a” makes the sound /æ/, and “t” makes the sound /t/. By knowing the sounds that letters make, you can know what the collection of letters mean, for example that “c”, “a”, and “t”, combine to make the word “cat”.
DYSLEXIA & WORKING MEMORY
Learning to read relies on working memory. We have to match each letter with the correct sound, put it together, and remember it for future use.
The process of keeping multiple sounds and letters active is often too difficult for many individuals with dyslexia because their have poor auditory working memory. This means that they struggle to hold all the sound units in their head, which makes it hard for them to read.
WORKING MEMORY TRAINING
Can we improve working memory in students with dyslexia? To find out, I conducted clinical trials with Dyslexia Scotland. Students aged between 8 to 16 years old completed standardized tests of IQ and working memory. Then they participated in an 8-week training program called Jungle Memory.
The findings were very exciting! The students who used the Jungle Memory regularly (4x a week for 30 minutes) had higher IQ and working memory scores, compared to those who only trained 1x a week. Even their language scores were higher after training.
When the students were tested them 8 months later, they maintained all those improvements in working memory, IQ, and grades.
MY RESEARCH (FULL LIST)
- Working memory in children with reading disabilities. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology
- Investigating Working Memory and Sustained Attention in Dyslexic Adults. International Journal of Educational Research
- Comparing Language Profiles: Children with Specific Language Impairment and Developmental Coordination Disorder. International Journal of Communication and Language Disorders.
- An investigation of cognitive overlap in working memory profiles in children with developmental disorders. International Journal of Educational Research
- Working memory deficits in neurodevelopmental disorders. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
- What can phonological and semantic information tell us about the mechanisms of immediate sentence recall? Memory.
- The role of sentence recall in reading and language skills of children with learning difficulties. Learning and Individual Differences
- Working memory and short-term sentence recall in young children. European Journal of Cognitive Psychology
- A comparison of working memory and phonological skills between British and South African children. Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies