Entries in Dyslexia (5)


Dyslexia May Be Visible in Childrens' Brain Scans

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Success in learning often begins with success in reading. If parents and teachers are late discovering reading issues, it can be a struggle to get young children on track in school.

Now, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology say that they may be able to detect learning disabilities like dyslexia earlier than ever. They tested 40 kindergarteners to see how they performed on a phonetic test -- one of the key building blocks of reading. Some of the students did well, while others performed poorly.

When researchers scanned the brains of the children, they found that the poor performers had differences in an area of the brain involved with processing language and speech.

While the findings are still preliminary, they may assist pediatricians in identifying the children who may need extra assistance in school so that they will not be at a disadvantage when it comes to school.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Signs of Dyslexia Start Before Reading, Study Finds

Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Signs of dyslexia may begin even before a child tries to read, according to new research published in the journal Current Biology.

Dyslexia, a developmental reading disorder that occurs when the brain does not properly recognize and process certain symbols, cannot just be considered a language problem anymore, as it affects comprehension and visual understanding of symbols and patterns, said Andrea Facoetti, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Padova and co-author of the study. It has been widely "accepted that reading disorders arise from a spoken language problem, [but] results demonstrate the critical role played by visual attention in learning to read."

Dyslexia is the most common cause of reading and writing difficulties in the U.S., and according to the National Institutes of Health, up to 15 percent of the population may have dyslexia.

The researchers followed 96 Italian children for three years, between kindergarten and second grade. They found that the children who had difficulty identifying certain symbols within patterns and sentences had a harder time reading later on.

The ability to filter out and identify such information is crucial in isolating single letters or syllables before the written words are translated in corresponding speech sound, said Facoetti.

The study authors believe treatment for dyslexia should be changed to take into account such visual information.

"The possibility to dramatically reduce the reading disorder would have a great impact in improving the children's quality of life and in decreasing governmental costs," Facoetti said.

Interesting as the findings are, Dr. Stefanie Hines, director of the Center for Human Development at Beaumont Children's Hospital in Michigan, said they might not easily translate to U.S. children, because the orthography, or the relationship between sounds and spelling, is more complicated in English than in Italian.

"I would caution that the study was conducted on Italian children," said Hines. "The prevalence of dyslexia in Italy is lower than in the U.S."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Early Brain Changes May Indicate Dyslexia

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- A group of researchers say they may be close to finding a way to resolve what’s known as the “dyslexia paradox”: the fact that the earlier a child is diagnosed with dyslexia, the easier it is to treat, but because the disorder is characterized by difficulty in reading and speaking, it is not typically diagnosed until a child reaches third grade, which many experts consider to be late.

The researchers at Children’s Hospital Boston say they may now be able to detect dyslexia even before children pick up their first book, by studying MRIs to see how their brains are working.

Their study, published Monday in PNAS, took MRI brain images of 36 pre-reading level children, half of whom had a family history of dyslexia. The children, who were around age five, were asked to decide whether two similar-sounding words start with the same sound.

Many children diagnosed with dyslexia exhibit insufficient brain activities in the rear left side of the brain, which is responsible for the development of language skills, according Nadine Gaab, associate professor of pediatrics at Children’s Hospital in Boston and co-author of the study. Children with a family history of the condition are at higher risk to develop dyslexia.

The children were followed until they reached third grade, and those with a family history of the condition showed less brain activity in the back left side of the brain compared to those with no family history of dyslexia.

“The question is, are these children showing these brain changes as a result of dyslexia, or do these brain changes predate dyslexia?” said Gaab.

If these brain changes are observed before children are able to read, Gaab said there may come a time when clinicians will be able to diagnose dyslexia before the children begin to show the first signs.

But the current study suggests we’re not there yet. Although researchers found the brain changes in children with a family history of the dyslexia, the children studied have not been followed long enough yet to determine whether they are diagnosed with the condition.

Gaab said the next part of their study will determine if the children who exhibited less activity in the language area of the brain go on to receive a dyslexia diagnosis.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Color-Filtering Lenses: Better Reading for Dyslexics?

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(PHILADELPHIA) -- Specially tinted lenses originally developed for color blindness are helping some U.S. dyslexics read faster and see words more clearly, confirming the claims of the lenses' British inventor and the company that started selling them here in September.

Optician and researcher David Harris began developing the colored lenses in England in the 1980s for the 1 in 10 people with some degree of color blindness. However, he found that by altering the wavelength of light that reaches the eye, the tinted lenses reduced visual distortions that make reading a chore for many people with dyslexia, a learning disability often linked to poor academic performance. On his website, Harris says the lenses can help some of the 1 in 5 people with reading disorders, especially the 74 percent of dyslexia sufferers with visual distortions.

ChromaGen Vision lenses, available as prescription contacts or eyeglasses that resemble gray-tinted sunglasses, incorporate combinations of 16 color filters. Since the company launched its U.S. sales campaign in September, about 100 eye specialists in 30 states have been dispensing them, said ChromaGen Vision CEO Ted Edwards Jr. Certified providers, who have undergone about an hour of online training and paid $1,500 for kits to test the lenses on patients, have prescribed them to about 500 U.S. patients so far.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Special Font Helps Dyslexics Mind Their Ps and Qs

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(DETROIT) -- Some of the letters are a bit askew, others gape open or slump slightly. But all the letters in the font Dyslexie are designed to make reading easier for people with dyslexia.

Christian Boer, the Dutch graphic artist who designed the font, is dyslexic himself, and knew firsthand that people with the disorder often mix up letters that look similar, MSNBC reports.

The letter “b,”  for instance, can easily flip into a “d” or even a “p.” A lowercase “e” can be mixed with its simpler cousin, “c.” A little “i” looks very much like a “j.”

In his Dyslexie font, Boer altered the letters ever so slightly to give them a bit more individuality, making some lean forward or backward, making others wider, or spacing the characters farther apart. Boer said the slight alterations make the letters more distinguishable to dyslexics.

The font “is gaining popularity because people with dyslexia see-experience that it works,” Boer told MSNBC, citing a small study conducted by a Dutch grad student showing that dyslexics made fewer errors while ready Dyslexie.

Although dyslexia, also called developmental reading disorder, is commonly characterized simply as a problem transposing letters -- changing “b” into “d” -- scientists say the disorder is much broader than that. Dr. Stefani Hines, a developmental-behavioral pediatrician who works with dyslexics at the Beaumont Health System near Detroit, said the solution to dyslexia is not as simple as just changing a font.

“Dyslexia is not a vision problem, it’s a problem with deep phonological processing,” involving problems understanding letter and sound association and rhyming, Hines said. “So changing the font is not a cure, it’s just a help.”

But Hines noted that a number of her patients report that larger fonts or text that has more white space helps them with reading. She said solutions such as Dyslexie or other fonts such as “Lexia readable” are worth studying. What will help dyslexics more, however, is intense tutoring and strategies that help people deal with the deeper issues that cause dyslexia, she said.

“If you start relying on a font, every word in your environment would have to look like that,” Hines said. “The words on your restaurant menu probably aren’t going to look that way.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio