Volume 9 #9 September
I complained in the last newsletter about how inaccurate it is to call a program for dyslexia “scientific” when it is merely a matter of teaching phonics, because there is nothing scientific about phonics. It was invented a couple of thousand years ago and has been modified for use in virtually every language on earth. You just figure out what your linguistic noises are, assign a squiggle to each one, and you are in business.
But this happy system doesn’t work for a dyslectic person, because he is not wired up to do that matching: his brain doesn’t naturally assign a shape with a sound. He may recognize every sound and every shape, but the matching up is missing. On top of that, he gets not one, but two out-of-sync inputs from both his eyes and his ears that really gums things up. Thank you, you lousy corpus callosum.
Neurologists who specialize in something called brain mapping have given us the answer. If you want to read, you must send input from both kinds of activities- visual and auditory- to the same area of the brain at the same time. When two different inputs arrive simultaneously, the neurons reinforce each other, actually causing chemical changes in the area. Or, as the docs put it, neurons that fire together wire together. When that happens, the two activities required for reading become mapped in the same part of the brain. I recently found an interesting brain scan of two brains, one normal, one dyslectic, which shows with dots on the diagram where there is activity during reading. In the normal brain, the dots are all clustered in one spot- yes, that angular gyrus. In the dyslectic brain, the dots are scattered all over the temporal lobe.
What this means to the teacher of dyslectic students is that the secondary, late signal that comes through the slow corpus callosum must be eliminated so that the brain only gets one input, each, from the eyes and ears. And this simultaneous input must arrive over and over until the brain wires properly. Yep. Phonics lessons through the DL glasses plus spelling in the earphones so that the brain hears the word and sees it written simultaneously, over and over and over! And over.
But only for a few months. Once the brain is mapped with reading in one place, - well, you can read.