Reading, spelling , writing, and speaking are all connected – they are language.

Regardless of the language, codes are used to represent words or parts of words of the spoken language. A caveman drew a deer on the wall of a cave and it meant whatever grunt or snort he used for “deer.” When we see the letters d-e-e-r we know that it represents the spoken word, “deer.” The Chinese written language uses different pictures for words and word parts. A well-educated Chinese person recognizes 6,000-7,000 characters.

The English language uses 26 individual letters to represent 44 sounds. In order to read English, a person must be quite capable at phonological processing. This is the ability to quickly and accurately detect and manipulate the individual sounds within words. Phonological processing consists of phonemic awareness, auditory analysis, auditory blending, auditory segmenting, auditory discrimination, etc.

Most struggling readers cannot easily tell the difference between sounds, especially vowels. They will confuse /a/ as in cat for /u/ as in cut. If you can’t hear the difference, how can you know if the word you are trying to read, spell, or write is cat or cut? You’ll see kids spell “liked” as “likt” because they can’t hear the difference between /d/ and /t/. They’ll mix up b’s and d’s because they can’t hear the difference between the sounds. They lose l’s and r’s because they can’t hear them or can’t isolate them when they occur with another sound as in “grow” or “glow.”

In order to have any degree of reading comprehension, the reader must read with fluency. In order to have fluency, decoding or word attack must come quite easily and quickly. In order to be proficient at decoding, you must possess good phonological processing abilities.

Using Science to Understand Reading Problems

Until recently, reading problems were studied by studying what processes or abilities had been lost through brain injury or by conducting autopsies. Only since 2001 have fMRI’s made it possible to actually watch a brain in the process of reading. Since then, many old beliefs about dyslexia and reading disabilities have been tossed aside. We live in an exciting age where brain science is completely changing what we know about the brain, learning, reading, and thinking.

Thanks to functional MRI’s it is now known that poor readers use the right side of their brains. They see the words with the Right Angular Gyrus (nonverbal-spatial), then process with the Right Frontal Lobe (reasoning) and then Broca’s Area (speech). Good readers, on the other hand, see the letters with the brain’s Letterbox, then see the words in the Visual Word Form Area, then process through the Left Temporal (word sounds) and finally Broca’s Area (speech).

Why the difference? If auditory processing abilities are deficient, the Left Temporal can’t do the job and so another way must be found to perform the task. When auditory processing abilities are trained and developed, previously poor readers can process the same way as good readers do.

Poor readers, using the aforementioned method, have an incredibly difficult task to perform. They must reason through every word they see, using phonics rules to determine what those symbols they see represent. Good readers don’t have to reason it through, they just “hear” the word.

For good readers phonics serves merely as a foundation. We continue to learn to read for our entire lives as we encounter unknown words. Good readers don’t have to perform mental gymnastics trying to remember a long list of phonics rules and then trying to decode words that don’t meet the rules.

Writing is just reading in reverse. If you have to perform mental gymnastics to decode, what must you do to code the word in the first place? If you have poor comprehension abilities, how can you be expected to read something and then re-phrase it in your own words? If putting your ideas on paper involves reasoning through the spelling of every word, how can writing be an easy or enjoyable task? I love to write! For me, writing is just saying what I want to say. I don’t have to think about what letters to use or how to form them. It is automatic because I do it with auditory processing not with visual processing and reasoning.

Approximately half of the children with see with reading, writing, or spelling problems, also have a speech problem or went to speech therapy when they were younger. Hmmm. “The voice cannot reproduce what the ear cannot hear” (Tomatis affect). Just a few common examples of speech problems that have an affect on reading are: pronounces “three” as “free;” pronounces /ch/ like /sh/; /f/ sounds like /v/ or /th/.

Reading is not a natural ability and it is, therefore, not surprising that many people have difficulty with it. Until 1440 when German inventor Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, there was nothing to read unless you were a scribe, priest, king, or just incredibly wealthy. Therefore, there was no reason for most people to learn this skill. Public education has only been around for just over 100 years and so they haven’t yet perfected reading instruction.

To correct reading problems, you want to be using scientific methods based on scientific evidence. People used to think dyslexia and reading problems were caused by vision problems. Not according to scientific research. Be sure to read: Study: Vision, Dyslexia Not Linked

Using Science to Solve Reading Problems

At Accomplished Learning Centres, we specialize in solving reading, writing, and spelling problems. We do this by first training the cognitive and language processing areas of the brain.

Step 1: Assessment to determine the severity of the reading problem and if it is caused by processing deficits. (It always is, otherwise there wouldn’t be a reading problem.)

Step 2: Parents attend a Parent Consultation. We review the assessment in detail, discuss the child’s personality traits (frustration tolerance, determination, learned helplessness) and current educational supports, and review the IEP and Psycho-Ed assessments. Then, together we will determine which program or programs are most suitable: Fast ForWord, Interactive Metronome, Samonas, PACE, Master the Code, or one of our other programs.

Step 3: Apply for funding if necessary. If through Autism Funding, the Request to Pay form is completed.

Step 4: Begin the program.