Written by Vanessa Deeg for 'deeg's place'
In summary, following a course of phonologically based instruction, adults with persistent dyslexia enjoyed measurable gains in phonological processing skills. This improved understanding of the phonological features of language was transferred to some aspects of reading ability, leading to improved accuracy on non-word decoding and oral paragraph reading," (Cell).
There are scientific findings that show that the dyslexic brain can change with training, and the program used by scientists to come to this conclusion is the Lindamood-Bell program for phonemic sequencing. The very same one that I use with my students.
The Lindamood-Bell program, involves a multi-sensory approach, using auditory, visual and sensory modalities, to acquire accurate phonemic awareness (the sounds of a language) and be able to connect and organize those sounds with their matching letters and letter combinations. It is not the same as learning the alphabet and the sounds the letters make. The program, in a nutshell, retrains the brain to associate sounds by feeling them and visually remember them in a novel approach that increases phonemic awareness, and which leads to improved decoding speed and improvements with auto-correction in reading, spelling, and speech. There are incredibly specific instructions regarding pacing, structure, timing, error analysis and error handling.
Cell Press, a high-quality science and technology publishing company with 30 peer-reviewed, academic journals published a clinical study called: Neural Changes following Remediation in Adult Developmental Dyslexia, (Cell). Through fMRI imaging and PET (position emission tomography), scientists have an actual picture of what locations in the brain are activated during the reading process, for people with and without dyslexia. Scientists have located the area that is having trouble reading in the brain with dyslexia is in the left hemisphere. I have included the link to the article (above), so that you can read about the specifics of the study. There are graphics which show the areas of the brain that are active during reading, both with and without dyslexia.
The study involved two groups of people with dyslexia; a control group, who did not receive an intervention, and the test group, who received 112 hours of intensive multi-sensory phonemic intervention, using the Lindamood-Bell phonemic sequencing program. The PET and fMRI results following the testing were clearly remarkable.
The study summarized their findings that through an intensive course of the Lindamood-Bell program, which is a highly specialized phonemic sequencing program, the participants of the study not only showed measurable improvements in their phonemic processing ability, which helps accuracy in decoding in reading but also showed actual physical changes in the brain attributed to the intervention of the program. "Physiological correlates of improved phonological awareness indicate a dual neurobiological mechanism, eliciting changes through increased activity of the left parietal cortex," (Cell). This says that the program brought about a dual purpose change for people with dyslexia; improved ability to accurately label sounds and their corresponding letters, and actual changes in the location of activity in the brain when reading, for people with dyslexia. This ties into the concepts of neuroplasticity, which I wrote about in Neuroplasticity and Neurodiversity. Scientists have known for a long time that the brain can change, but they are just finding out how to bring about the changes.
I found this study very interesting and encouraging for people with dyslexia. The science and technology available today is shedding a lot of light on how the reading brain works and it gives hope for the future of educational psychology and the developments in the methodology and materials used to teach future students. I am happy to be able to share the Lindamood-Bell program with my students, which is a unique and rare opportunity.
I hope you found this information useful. Please check back with the deegsplace Facebook page for more useful LD resources and information.
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Vanessa Deeg is an Ontario Certified Teacher who teaches reading to adults and teens with learning disabilities. She lives in Niagara, ON.