While there are many theories about the cause or causes of dyslexia, well-designed research studies reliably identify one primary cause as a weakness in phonological awareness. Phonological awareness has three components:
Phonological awareness deficiencies are neurological. Neuroscientists have found that the dyslexic person is impaired primarily in one or more of the language centers of the brain, which are located in the left hemisphere.
- the ability to separate a word into each individual sound,
- the ability to notice changes in the sounds of a word, and
- the ability to self-correct errors in reading without using contextual clues or visual memory.
It is a common belief that children with dyslexia compensate by using different areas of their brain and they are, in many cases, very creative thinkers.
These language centers are located in Broca's area of the brain, which is responsible for speech production.
Wernicke's area is responsible for language comprehension.
The Angular Gyrus converts printed letters or words to sounds.
The Supramarginal gyrus is used for phonological processing.
The Superior Temporal Gyrus handles general auditory input and perception.
The prefrontal cortex is the auditory working memory, which is important for self-correcting errors in reading, spelling, and speech.
All of these regions must work together well to enable the most efficient functioning of the brain. Although an exact location in the brain that causes reading difficulties has not been found, and there may not be one single location responsible, there is empirical evidence that the most common cause of reading problems is deficiency in phonological awareness.
The good news is that even the most severely dyslexic child can achieve dramatic reading improvements. To accomplish this, we must keep moving forward in developing and using therapies to improve phonological awareness.
Our research-based programs have attained high reading gains. The cornerstone of our methodology is the Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing Program* for Reading, Spelling, and Speech.
Children who struggle with reading and spelling often lack the ability to perceive the identity, number, and order of sounds within words. These abilities are known as phonological awareness skills. The Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing*, or LIPS®* program, improves phonological awareness skills, and so increases reading and spelling accuracy. The LiPS®* program focuses on visual, auditory, and oral-motor feedback. This use of multiple senses is the most effective way we know to teach the sound and letter associations that are central to all alphabetic language.
This knowledge of the brain can help us to better understand the daily struggles of children with dyslexia.
*"Einstein Montessori School is NOT Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes nor is it affiliated with, certified, endorsed, licensed, monitored, or sponsored by Lindamood-Bell, Nanci Bell, Phyllis Lindamood, or Pat Lindamood. Lindamood-Bell - an international organization creating and implementing unique instructional methods and programs for quality intervention to advance language and literacy skills - in no way endorses or monitors the services provided by Einstein."