Treatment for dyslexia typically consists of reading interventions and other educational tools and strategies. Medications are not used to treat dyslexia.
Scientists are still researching dyslexia to better understand the diagnosis. For example, last year, neuroscience student Emily Finn and her colleagues at the Yale University School of Medicine conducted a whole-brain functional connectivity analysis of dyslexia using functional magnetic resonance imaging. The results were reported in Biological Psychiatry.
Scans of children and adults with dyslexia were compared to typical readers in the same age groups – and there were widespread differences. Dyslexic readers showed decreased connectivity within their visual pathway – as well as between visual and prefrontal regions. They also showed reduced connectivity in the visual word-form area.
The fact that dyslexia and other reading struggles are linked to connectivity in the brain is good news, since there are exercises that work on cognitive performance.
Debunking Four Myths about Dyslexia
If you or your child suffers with dyslexia, there is a lot of misinformation circulating on this subject, so a good place to start is to look at three of the more common myths about dyslexia, as well as the truth about this common struggle.
Myth #1: Readers who struggle need to simply try harder.
Dyslexia isn’t about lack of motivation. In this video, Dr. Ken Gibson illustrates the struggle many readers face, even when they are highly motivated to read well:
Myth #2: Dyslexia is about reversing letters.
The most basic sign of dyslexia is not “reversed letters.” The word dyslexia actually means “poor with words or trouble reading.” Some common symptoms include:
- Difficulty transferring what is heard to what is seen, and vice versa.
- Struggles pronouncing new words.
- Poor at distinguishing similarities/differences in words (for example no and on).
- Weak at letter sound discrimination.
- Low reading comprehension.
Myth #3: Dyslexia is a lifelong label.
Dyslexia doesn’t need to be a permanent diagnosis. In fact, studies show that 85% of reading struggles are caused by one or more weak cognitive skills, which are the underlying skills the brain uses to focus, think and process information. With dyslexia, the weakest cognitive skills tend to be phonemic awareness and auditory processing. If these weaknesses are at the root of reading struggles, that can be good news, since cognitive skills can be targeted and strengthened with intense mental exercise.
The process of strengthening weak skills using mental exercise is called brain training. One of the most effective forms of brain training is one-on-one, where clients work face-to-face with brain trainers who customize workouts, create accountability, and keep things challenging and fun. LearningRx is a pioneer and leader in one-on-one brain training, with 80 brain training centers nationwide.
Myth #4: There’s nothing parents can do to help.
Someone diagnosed with dyslexia needs intensive one-on-one attention. And if weak skills are causing the struggle, there are some things you can do to help your child improve phonemic awareness and auditory processing skills. Here are three games that may help:
- Sound segmenting games: Say a two-sound word, like bee and have the child tell you which sounds are in the word. Then start to increase to three-sound words like cat. This builds auditory segmenting which is necessary for spelling when children get older.
- Phonetics using building blocks: Help develop analytical skills by using blocks to make up nonsense words starting with two to three blocks. Create a nonsense word, then have the child remove one block and add a new one while verbally trying to figure out what the new word sounds like.
- Have your child cognitively assessed. A cognitive test is the best way to identify weak skills that may be affecting a child’s ability to process sounds and/or to read.
To learn more about the link between dyslexia and cognitive weaknesses, contact a LearningRx Brain Training Center near you. And to know for sure if weak cognitive skills are impacting your child’s reading experience, LearningRx offers a one-hour Cognitive Assessment that can give you the answers you’re looking for.
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