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.
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.
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: