Thursday, June 10, 2010

Discourse with Dr.Richard Selznick - Author of Shut Down Learner & Lesson 38

This is the first of a series of e-mail discussion between Dr. Richard Selznick PhD and myself, based on his book the Shut Down Learner.

Dear Luqman:
Here are some of the observations that I can share with you relative to some of the issues that you raise:

When I evaluate children there are typically two or three tasks that correlate highly with children who struggle with reading, spelling and writing. These tasks include:

•    Difficulty with recalling spoken digits in reverse order ( 4-7-6-2)
•    Difficulty with tasks that involve manipulation of sounds (say “clip,” now say it again but don't say /c/.”)
•    Difficulty with tasks that involve rapid naming, such as rapidly naming colours or objects in a given array.

If I just knew that a student had difficulty with two or three of these items above, I would be very willing to bet a good deal of money that they also have difficulty with reading, spelling and writing. I would note that well over 90% of the time. Almost always, when children show weaknesses with these types of tasks, they do struggle with decoding, spelling and writing.

My impression is that the children that we call dyslexic almost always struggling with the vowel sounds within the words. The vowels are particularly problematic because they do have different shades and letter or combination of letters representing them (way, weigh).

Within the programs that we use, we advocate mastering the short vowel sound within a closed syllable type of word pattern first.

Also problematic for dyslexics are multisyllabic words (e.g., porcupine, institute, philanthropists). They lack sensitivity for rapidly breaking the words down into their component parts. I do believe that the people that I see who fall under this umbrella typically have trouble with facets of the language that contribute to their struggling. As you will see in my book, I emphasize that these people tend to gravitate toward visual and spatial type of tasks. I call them "Lego" kids in the book.

It's hard for me to comment on why children will seem to learn one language system and struggle in the other and I do think that your explanations make sense. I would imagine that the language systems that you are discussing have one to one correspondence between the symbol and the sound, which is simply not the case in English. Hebrew, for example, is phonetically consistent and each letter representation corresponds with its spoken sound.  It sounds like Malay is similar and probably easier to learn, as is Hebrew.

When you do receive my book, when I refer to "Type I” reading problems, these are the ones that typically are of the dyslexics style.
Hope this is helpful

Dear Dr. Selznick,
Thank you for your response and sharing with me your observations.
I did not try any of the three exercises where you said you'd bet your money. I will keep this in mind when I start taking in dyslexic children as students next year. That is very good information. It is specific and something to work on.
Luqman Michel

                                              About Dr. Richard Selznick

Dr.Selznick is a psychologist, a nationally certified school psychologist, and a graduate school professor. As a director of Cooper Learning Centre at Cooper University Hospital, Dr.Selznick overseas a programme that assesses and treats a broad range of learning and behavioural problems in children.

Dr.Selznick also functions as a school consultant, and throughout the year he speaks to numerous parent groups, schools, and regional conferences on topics such as dyslexia, parenting, bullying, and ADHD

Dr.Selznick’s contact :

Richard Selznick, Ph.D.
Director: Cooper Learning Center
Department of Pediatrics
Cooper University Hospital
(856) 673 - 4903
Fax (856) 673 - 4909

For Lesson 38 click here:


Unknown said...

Dr. Richard Selznick and Michel Luqman This is informative and very interesting. I concure Though I am not learned in the field. It seems obvious since dyslexia is a working memory problem not a language problem. If we can just get passed the language issues by say rationalizing the language we could work on ways to improve the working memory. Thanks

Luqman Michel said...

Hi John. Thank you for your comment.
You say it is obvious that dyslexia is not a language learning disability and that is good. However there are many others who need to be convinced.
Ways to improve working memory is beyond this blog. However, I have given many ways for a student to learn effectively in my book which you may find at :

Meanwhile for children to improve their memory one of the best games to play and a game which is recommended by scientists for improving memory is as follows:
Sorry it is too long to write here. I'll write it as an attachment in my next article.

Luqman Michel said...

Hi again John, I have asked one of my face book friends who is very knowledgeable on short term memory to write an article on it and he has consented. So we'll wait for his article instead of my "attachment" I mentioned above.

Luqman Michel said...

It is now 7 years since Dr. Selznick and I had the above dialogue. I have learned quite a bit about what I like to call shut-down kids or disengaged kids.

Dr. Selznick is a clinician and he deal with kids who are mostly different from the kids I have taught.I believe he has also dealt with kids similar to those I have taught.

Armed with the knowledge I have gained from my students I am going to have another dialogue with Dr. Selznick.