In an interesting article, Dr. Martha Burns, adjunct professor at Northwestern University, Chicago, USA explains the journey of discovery that neuroscientists have undertaken in the past 40 years to understand the cause of dyslexia, as well as the most effective means of treating this debilitating condition.
Dr.Burns explains the history of our understanding of dyslexia, as it began in the 1970s with the recognition of dyslexia in patients as a developmental reading disorder. At the time the technology to understand the cause of the condition did not exist and thus the focus was on identification and treatment methods. However, Burns explains that this was merely treating the symptoms of the condition and was ineffective on eliminating the root of the problem.
Enter the 1990s. During this time, the technology to track processes within the brain had been developed and the relationship between auditory processing and dyslexia was realised. Children who had early auditory processing difficulties then struggled to associate letters with their corresponding sounds during the foundational years of language learning.
Now, the further technological advancements within neuroscience have allowed researchers to view the connections required for language, auditory processing, speech and reading within the brain. Viewing these processes in the brains of dyslexic people has highlighted that dyslexia is present when the connections between certain areas within the brain are weaker.
This has really exciting potential for the future because now the cause has been pinpointed, effective dyslexia treatment options are able to be developed. In this case, effective treatment options are already available. The most research validated treatment is the Fast ForWord program.
Now thanks to our understanding of brain processes such as neuroplasticity, the Fast ForWord exercises are designed to target the weak connections to train and strengthen them.
The combination of reading and auditory exercises means that the program tackles both the major deficits and obstacles associated with dyslexia. It physically restructures and organises the brain, allowing for connections between vital areas to be strengthened, elevating the overall processing effectiveness of dyslexic brains.
The best solution for dyslexia is to combine the Fast ForWord neuroscience exercises with instruction by a skilled reading coach.