Dyslexia is a condition that may hamper a child’s growth in the absence of a proper support mechanism to guide them. While Dyslexia is usually termed a neurological disorder; however, when dug deeper, it can also be termed a visual condition. Wherein though reading is difficult, speaking is not. Dyslexia causes difficulties in reading with accurate and fluent word recognition and spelling.
There could be many reasons for poor reading. Among that, it is said that the challenges of poor reading may also lie in understanding spoken language. And hence Dyslexia is also termed to be primarily associated with a phonological deficit. The roots of phonological deficit could be traced to weaker Phonemic Awareness.
Reading, Phonological Deficit, and Phonemic Awareness
This prompted us to further explore deeper a connection between Dyslexia and reading, phonological deficit, and phonemic awareness and to look for developmentally appropriate interventions and assistive technology tools that can be used easily at home or school.
Such a support mechanism, when provided at an early age to young children when they are gaining phonemic awareness, will help to enhance independent learning and reading among children, thus helping in overcoming the challenges in accurately spelling and fluent word recognition, fundamental to the reading process.
While digging thru’ the archives, we came across an informative talk on The Reading Process by Dr. G. Reid Lyon (see video below), wherein Dr. Reid talked about the important elements that contribute to poor reading. Based on the talk of Dr. Reid, we have created a detailed timestamped list of observations and how alphaTUB plays an important role as a developmentally appropriate assistive tool, especially for young children with Dyslexia.
00:00 – 00.47 Confusion between Phonics & Phonemic Awareness (awareness of sounds), Assessing Phonemic awareness without the print present.
A. It is certainly possible to deliver Phonics and Phonemic Awareness and assess Phonemic Awareness among children (without written words). The usage of personalized images through alphaTUB helps to build Phonemic Awareness without the print present.
00.48 – 1.11 Phonics – is the linkage of sound with the letter, the letter sound correspondence. But for Phonics to happen effectively, Phonemic awareness is important.
B. As shown in A, alphaTUB helps to build a strong association between the image and alphabet letter. Further, this helps to build phonemic awareness among young children through images that are personalized and contextually relevant to children and not just through never seen before written and unfamiliar words.
1.12- 1.14 You cannot read well without Phonics, and you can’t do Phonics well without Phonemic Awareness.
As seen above in both A and B, appropriate use of alphaTUB helps in building phonemic awareness, leading to a better grasp of phonics, thus paving the way to better reading skills.
1.15 – 2.38 Dr. Reid explains how youngsters can develop an ability to connect the sound to the letter and letter patterns phonics. Further, he observed that if kids don’t apply this knowledge, they will be bogged down, and they are slow and labored and not automatic. They will mispronounce. This makes it harder for kids to learn written content. Which negates any ability they have to relate to what they just read to what they know. Hence, there is a gap “between real (reality around a child) and books (the content which children are seeing in books)” because they are not able to relate to the content, and the stuff is far from meaningful (relevant to kids), or relevant to what they already know.
Bridging the gap between reality and books is important because by leveraging content that the child can relate to. Personalized content makes learning very comfortable. Hence, the experience of learning becomes more meaningful and engaging. Parents and Teachers can use alphaTUB mobile app to capture the visual content around a child’s environment and present this to the child, thus making the learning a winning experience in a playful setting.
2.39 = 3.35 Dr. Reid explains reading and its complexity. He mentions the process is fairly complex cognitive as the process of acquiring linguistic skills such as knowledge of sounds, linking of sounds to letters, and applying this to what is printed, learning, summarizing (making sense), and predicting (what they have learned – comprehension), eventually making sense of reading what is written is complex.
The purpose of reading is to comprehend, connect and make sense of all that is written such that it elevates the individual through acquired knowledge to seek higher order skills. Harnessing this ability among children helps them to meaningfully embrace linguistic skills. The early introduction of personalized and contextually relevant content in early language development helps children connect not just the letter sound and letter shape, however, it also helps to make sense of the image-word connection to what they already see around them. Hence the process of reading becomes meaningful because it is connected to relevant and experiential stories to which they relate to.
3.36 — 5.11 Dr. Reid made a valuable observation that – Not being able to read is not an academic issue, it’s an emotional, motivational issue and kids start to withdraw from the reading process, there comes a motivational hump, or motivational condition, and how it can cause to long term harm, and the importance of robust instructional programs and practices all before 3rd grade.
In this part, as Dr. Reid argued, that not being able to read could manifest into a larger personality and motivational issue and how it can cause long-term harm. This highlights the importance of powerful instructional programs and early literacy practices all before 3rd grade. Tactile & developmentally appropriate alphaTUB helps to build a strong language foundation for children from age 3 to 8. The presence of contextually relevant content helps to keep children engaged and immersed, and this way, they are more drawn toward the reading process. This approach helps children to start making the connection between their real world and the written words. Not only does such a learning process becomes meaningful, however it also helps children to overcome the motivation hump or the challenges of “affective filters,” which hamper their ability to learn to read.
For children with special needs, alphaTUB is a welcoming language tool to learn and improve phonemic awareness by providing a fun-based learning environment to play with letters, words, and images.
The alphaTUB approach will benefit children who are struggling with Dyslexia by allowing them to become “sensitized” to the relationship between sounds and letters in the English (Roman) Alphabet; and Phonemic Awareness, a key area of difficulty among children who struggle with Dyslexia. Through active use of alphaTUB, young learners with Dyslexia will begin to develop a highly responsive learning strategy that can be transferred over to reading and spelling activities that require word decoding.