Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Diagnosing Reading Problems Before School Begins!

Experiencing frustration early on, kills motivation  and effects self esteem
According to the online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a study at Children’s Hospital in Boston is now able to identify children at risk for dyslexia through MRI scans.  Researchers have been able to identify different brain activity on these scans even before children have learned to read.  The good news is, developmental dyslexia, at an early stage, responds well to intervention.  Diagnosing children during this time (before kindergarten) could change the way a student views school. Rather than begin school experiencing frustration and difficulty,  an intervention can provide a student with the chance to be successful and have a positive academic experience.
Developmental dyslexia (dyslexia not caused by brain trauma) affects 5 to 17 percent of all children.  If the family already has a history of dyslexia, up to 1 in 2 children will struggle with reading themselves.  These students will experience poor spelling and decoding abilities and have difficulty with fluency in recognizing words (which later affects reading comprehension). Children with dyslexia have difficulty identifying and mapping oral sounds in written language since they have problems recognizing and manipulating the underlying sound structures of words (known as phonological processing).
This news is exciting to me, since it confirms what we already do here at DLNH with our Search and Teach© program.  This program helps identify young, “at risk” students and  provides intervention in the areas of phonological processing.  The program was part of my training at The National Institute for Learning Development® (NILD) and is approved by the Joint Dissemination Review Panel (JDRP) of the Interdisciplinary Model for national validation.  If you or someone you know is interested in learning more, check out our website under the “Services” tab and call for a free consult.
Journal Reference:
1.      N. M. Raschle, J. Zuk, N. Gaab. Functional characteristics of developmental dyslexia in left-hemispheric posterior brain regions predate reading onset. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2012; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1107721109

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Get a Grip! 
           Does it really matter that your child may hold his/her pencil in a non-conventional way?  My answer is, "Absolutely!" A child's ability to hold a pencil properly is based on the development of his/her fine motor skills.  Having a proper pencil grasp (thumb and index finger holding the pencil and middle finger providing stability) is important for several reasons: First, it is through the pincer muscles (located in the thumb and forefinger), that the brain records dynamic information.  A proper grasp also provides more agility and flexibility for the child to form specific letters, which results in more legible writing. A poor pencil grasp is tiring and inflexible which often causes illegible handwriting.  As the child grows he/she may experience difficulty keeping up with writing and compositions. Also, an inability to write fluently can affect note taking in class. If the child's brain is concentrating on his/her ability to form specific letters, there is less ability to hear and understand what is being said.  

Researchers Berninger and Wolf (2009), listed 14 signs and symptoms to help detect if your child is struggling with handwriting (also known as dysgraphia):
  •  Cramping of fingers while writing short entries
  •  Odd wrist, arm, body, or paper orientations such as creating an L shape with your arm
  •  Excessive erasures
  •  Mixed upper case and lower case letters
  •  Inconsistent form and size of letters, or unfinished letters
  •  Misuse of lines and margins
  •  Inefficient speed of copying
  •  Inattentiveness over details when writing
  •  Frequent need of verbal cues
  •  Referring heavily on vision to write
  •  Poor legibility
  •  Handwriting abilities that may interfere with spelling and written composition
  •  Having a hard time translating ideas to writing, sometimes using the wrong words altogether
  •  May feel pain while writing
    For those of you who live in the Lakes Region of NH, Discovery Learning NH can help your child by using NILD educational therapy.  Check out our site:
Free consultations available
Berninger, V.W.; B.J. Wolf (2009). Teaching students with dyslexia and dysgraphia: Lessons from teaching and science. Baltimore, Maryland: Paul H. Brooks Publishing Co.. pp. 1-240.