Sunday, March 29, 2015

Dyslexia – Some questions and suggested answers

Are there children who find it more difficult to learn to read than a majority of children?
The answer should be a resounding yes as there are research reports and news paper reports stating that all over the world about 20% of children are illiterate in the English language when they leave school.

How many of the roughly 20% of children can become good readers after intervention?
Almost 90% of these children can be taught to read with intervention as recorded by many researchers.

Did they give them some form of medication to achieve these results?
No, none whatsoever.

How many of the kids who could read after intervention were found to have phonological awareness problem?
This is what the researchers should look at. I would believe that none of the kids who could read after intervention had any phonological awareness problem. Chances are the remaining 2 or 3 % from the original group have a phonological or acuity problem. As such those kids I mentioned who read well after intervention should not be categorized under the same group as children with APD or children with acuity problem. Stanovich has clearly defined what Dyslexia is not.

When should/can we identify kids who have difficulty learning to read?
We should be able to do this within six months of reading. If approximately 80% of the kids can read well and yet these 20% cannot read as well as the 80% a teacher should be able to identify these kids simply by asking them to read. Ask them to read some new material with the same words that they have already learnt.

What is the cause for this learning problem?
This is where I hope researchers will conduct studies and confirm my findings. All these children who were able to read after intervention are most probably shut-down learners as described in my blog.
They shut-down when things taught to them are not logical. They shut down when things are confusing.

We should get rid of the term dyslexia as I have mentioned in my blog since 2010. The term dyslexic has too varied a meaning as described in my blog. They vary from one dyslexia association to another. The Learning Disabilities Association places dyslexia under a list of learning disabilities whereas the Dyslexia Association places all learning disabilities under the dyslexia umbrella.

If there are research reports stating that intervention has reduced the number of kids who cannot read from about 30% to 3% then all kids, other than those with acuity or phonological problems should and can be taught to read.

What can/should be changed?
The 30 odd year notion that children cannot read because of some perceived ‘phonological awareness deficit’ should be got rid of. A majority of the 20% of kids who cannot read do not have any form of phonological awareness problem. It is a case of ‘shut-down’ problem because of being confused.

I am really astonished that many researchers I had written to cannot accept that dyslexic children cannot have a phonological awareness or phonemic problem if these same children can read in many other orthographically consistent languages.


Bob Rose, MD (retired) said...


In an email of June 29, you asked me to post my opionion as to whether I believe that teaching fluency in alphabet handwriting will abolish reading problems, and to state my reason for so believing.

My anser is that I indeed do believe it, and my belief comes from the fact that my on-line teacher study showed that all kids with learning problems are less than fluent at writing the alphabet letters, while fluent youngsters were virtually all readers.

Also, Marilyn Jager Adams has written that more than half of American seven-year-olds still can't write and name all of the letters, and folks in the U.K. have emailed me to say things are just as bad there.

I think this should be scientifically studied more, and I'll abide by the results.

Luqman Michel said...

I understand and believe what you are saying. But bob, co-relation does not indicate causation. We have seen statistics which say that between 10 to 20% of kids all over the world fail to read when they leave school. It is these 10 to 20% that we should focus on. The other 80% are those that you are referring to. They are the ones who will have good hand writing and will be able to read well. But that does not mean improving hand writing will eradicate illiteracy.

If half of American seven year old can't write and name all the letters then something need to be done about this. But please do not co-relate this with students being unable to read. Kate Gladstone had said that she knows of students who can write beautifully and yet are unable to read what they had written (per your FB post this morning). I believe what she has written. You don't need more proof than that!

Bob Rose, MD (retired) said...


In our study, about 15% of kids read before they were good at writing. My own son was considered dyslexic early in the second grade, even though he was fluent at handwriting. As it turned out, he had to be fluent at handwriting AND stop using "phonics" and simply learn to recognise words as familiar.

I've emailed Kate and asked her to contribute to this blog. I hope that she does, because she, like many, share your opinion. I still say a more formal study would be needed to convince me that my own study is wrong.

You are right that correlation does not always indicate causation, but it doesn't PRECLUDE it either, and a study would settle this issue.

Luqman Michel said...

If 15% could read before they were good at writing, what does that mean?

You say that your son was dyslexic and had to stop using phonics before he could learn to read - who taught him phonics and how did he teach him? Your son, could just be a 'Shut-down' learner just like all my students.

Hundreds of teachers all over the world have successfully taught and are still successfully teaching struggling students to read using phonics. How can we then say that phonics does not work?

Kate probably does not want to make any comment in my blog. Many read my blog but few comment. They don't have the time. This reminds me of what I read not long ago about things one must do - one of the items in that list was: While walking if you stop to watch a street performer place a coin or two in his hat as otherwise....

Bob Rose, MD (retired) said...


I don't think that Douglas was a "shut down learner". Now he is 46 years old, has a masters degree in intellectual history, and would have a PhD except that he is not a socialist. Phonics is taught routinely in our schools, but that alone didn't make him a reader, only his attempt to make words visually familiar. My theory about handwriting and visualizing may well be wrong; I only say it will take thorough scientific studies to convince me or that.

I'm sure that readers of your blog benefit even if they don't comment. Keep up the wonderful work!

I personally think that kids who learn to read without being good at writing letters are kids who THINK about their appearances. This may also be wrong, it's just a thought of mine.

When I told Douglas to learn what each written word looks like, he said, "No one could do that, there are too many words". I answered, "Just try." Now he's a better reader than I am, and he's taught me many things.

Luqman Michel said...

Thank you for your comment Bob. AND thank you for your kind words. If my blog can help just a few parents of struggling and reluctant students or 'shut-down' learners I will be contented.

All my students whom I would like to call as 'shut-down' learners are now good readers.

I will write another post in relation to hand writing as soon as possible.
Happy days.

Bob Rose, MD (retired) said...


I'll certainly read whatever you write on this excellent blog.

Bob Rose, MD (retired) said...


I just posted this response to Kate Gladstone on a FB page:

"Kate: I hope Luqman will explain his own dyslexia prescription briefly. I assume yours is that "Current evidence doesn't prove to us how we can get there from here", and if that's not true, please explain your stance to us."

So I hope you do here on this blog. As you know, I'm better at explaining my own view than listening or reading those of others.

Luqman Michel said...

How do we improve if we do not listen with an open mind on what others say they have learn from personal experience?

Which part of the links I asked you to read don't you understand or disagree with. I have written extensively on why kids shut-down. If you read these posts and then ask me relevant questions I will gladly answer you.

After reading the links don't you still understand why kids shut-down?
Please let me know which part you want me to elaborate on.

Bob Rose, MD (retired) said...

I don't see any links to read.

Luqman Michel said...

Bob, clicking on the highlighted words will bring you to a new page where the links are.