How do you solve a problem if you do not understand the question? In our last blog we discussed in-depth about dyslexia, one of the most common kinds of learning disabilities associated with reading, In this blog we are going to talk about reading disabilities and the science of reading. Reading disabilities take many forms, but it does not automatically mean that an individual is dyslexic.
Many of our everyday activities require multiple functions of the brain. Reading is not as simple as it may seem. In fact reading is one of the most complicated tasks for the human mind. Reading can be broken down into two categories: Decoding and Comprehension. Decoding focuses on breaking down words into letters and sounds. Comprehension is connecting the text together to extract meaning just like you are reading this blog to learn more about reading. The complexity of reading lies in how the brain functions when we are reading. If people could see how their brain works while reading, they would be amazed. The brain is divided into two regions, called hemispheres. Within each of these hemispheres there are different sections, or lobes, that are responsible for various parts of our daily activities.
Some parts of the lobe are responsible for body movement, language when we are talking, and language when we are listening. Other parts are responsible for memory, our various senses, emotions, decision making, etc. The human brain is so amazing that with all the science and information we know today about the brain, we have not even discovered half of the brain's function and potential.
When it comes to reading, this is what science and research has been able to discover. Reading activates the entire brain. What does that mean? Compared to other activities we do on a daily basis, sometimes multiple regions of the brain are required to operate together in order to perform a task.
Imagine yourself at a concert watching your favorite singer or band. As the performer is on stage they have to sing and dance. This requires the region responsible for language productions, and the region for body movement to work together in order to have a spectacular performance. If they play an instrument, then that requires more skill and more brain function too.
When you are reading, your entire brain is activated. Multiple regions are working together in harmony for us to be able to understand and read text. Going back to our concert example, if one person in the concert is off beat in their dancing or an instrument is out of tune it will throw off the entire performance. Therefore, if one region is not processing information correctly the reading process is disrupted, resulting in reading difficulties such as dyslexia or a reading learning disability.
Don't worry this is not the end. For individuals with dyslexia or other reading learning disabilities there are various methods of intervention that can help improve reading skills. Some of these interventions are designed to target the weak processing areas and build strength (similar to how people go to the gym and lift weights to build strength). Some of these methods focus on phonics, sight words, speed, etc. The number one way to improving reading skills, is to read! It is important to encourage students to read to continue to build their skills. Reading is an important life skill, and regardless of age we should continue to build our skills and read!
Share with us some of your favorite books that you have read!