Essay Example on Dyslexia: Challenges Beyond Spelling and Reading

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Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1724 Words
Date:  2023-07-02

Dyslexia is a neurological learning disorder that affects how well an individual can spell and read. If an individual has dyslexia, it does not mean that he or she cannot read, but can read a little and can recognize some words in the right way (Hultquist, 2006, p13). Dyslexic children may have other challenges apart from spelling and reading words correctly. An individual may have underlying brain differences that cause dyslexia, which can lead to problems with writing, speaking, listening, reading comprehension, and storing information in memory. Additionally, dyslexia can be exasperated by attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dysgraphia, anxiety, and depression. Dyslectic people often confuse words, letters, and numbers that look similar and are common with children as they learn the symbols used in mathematics and writing. Dyslexia is estimated to affect between 3-7% of people worldwide, with over 80% of children with learning disabilities having dyslexia (Peterson and Pennington 2015).

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Many scholars have debated the development of dyslexia in children and adults. Dyslexia has neurobiological origins regarding functional, structural, and genetic features of the central nervous system (Nijakowska 2010, p. 33). This brings about certain cognitive malfunctions, which, in turn, serve a more proximal cause of failure in reading among children and adults. Family history is a risk factor for dyslexia. For instance, 23-65% of children with dyslexia have a grandparent or a parent with the condition (Levesque 2012). Genetically, there is evidence that six genes that may contribute or cause dyslexia, with four of them affecting the process of the brain to perform specialized functions (Luciano, Gow, Pattie, Bates, and Deary 2018, p. 352). Different forms of dyslexia may occur in people of the same families, which has been implicated on the various reading disorders, thus some dyslexia forms appear more heritable than others.

Furthermore, a percentage of people suffer from acquired dyslexia, mostly adults through trauma, multiple sclerosis, dementia, stroke, or brain injuries (Ainscow 2013). The environment also causes dyslexia, especially children exposed to poor teaching and literacy development, as well as adverse environmental conditions for language. Conditions at home such as inadequate stimulation, delay in developmental milestones, and poverty as well as literacy environment play and school conditions, are influential in the development of dyslexia (Brooks 2013).

The underlying abnormalities in the brain that causes dyslexia are not corrected, but with early detection, right accommodation in the classroom, strategy training, and support, individuals can achieve full potential (Snowling 2013). Different teaching programmes have been put forward by different people for the management of dyslexia, with each having varied achievements. In this assignment, 'Toe by Toe' (Cowling & Cowling 1993) and the Bangor Dyslexia Approaches (Miles 1989) and their tenets will be discussed.

Toe and Toe (Cowling & Cowling 1993) is a multi-sensory teaching approach highly recommended for parents and teachers for children with dyslexia. It has a phonic and multi-sensory element focusing on learner memory through the timing and planning of lessons in the book. The development behind this approach was to assist children with reading difficulties, which includes those with dyslexic problems or weak readers who find decoding problematic. According to Crowding and Crowding (1993), children make progress by making tiny steps at a time, which can be traced back to the starting point. Blum (2014) agrees that the structure and frequency of Toe by Toe Approach creates a situation where a learner is given an excellent opportunity to build a positive relationship with an adult on one to one. This situation makes a significant improvement in reading quickly.

Bangor Dyslexia teaching system, on the other hand, was developed by Miles in 1989. It is a sequential and structured teaching programme for teachers, speech, and language therapists who are involved in supporting children with dyslexia. A vital aspect of this approach is the line drawn between secondary and primary learners. It was developed for children with phonological difficulties and to avert the problems that dyslectic children have in the mastery of alphabetical code. Miles (1989) posits that the approach has principles for primary aged children, such as the teaching of silent letters, grammatical rules, dictionary skills, alphabet, and basic letter sounds. According to Adam Meyersieck (2018), 'SLOOM' approach, which stands for scaffolding, little and often, overlearning, and multi-sensory, helps teachers to understand some of the main elements required for supporting dyslexic learners. The discussion of Toe by Toe and Bangor Dyslexia approaches utilize Meyersieck's theory alongside obstacles that teachers may encounter using both approaches.


Both approaches have phonetically structured scaffolds from different perspectives. The Bangor Approach is highly prescriptive and diagnostic, enabling the teacher to carefully design lessons according to the learners' needs. In contrast, Toe by Toe Approach states that everybody starts at the same place, regardless of their current reading level, and moves in the same direction (Jeffes 2017).

One requirement of this approach is reading nonsense words, an advantage that ensures the development of decoding skills. However, older students may find it embarrassing to read nonsense words in front of the others. Nevertheless, using this approach among illiterate prisoners at Wandsworth Prison in 2000 proved beneficial as they read polynons, nonsense words, and gave them the confidence to read real terms as the programme progressed (Allison 2006). The outcome of Toe by Toe's clear structure was that 80 prisoners learned to read within a year, and 90 more prisons have since adopted it in the UK. In contrast, the Bangor Approach needs to be administered by a trained teacher or teaching assistant, which Jeffes (2017) believes would pose a problem in terms of staff shortage in some schools.

Toe by Toe Approach, on the other hand, is friendly to the parent because it does not require any specialized training for one to use. Allison (2006) agrees that Toe by Toe Approach is structured that any individual who can read can teach those who cannot read. Despite this, teachers are concerned that this approach is not continued during school holidays since not all parents are confident to use Toe by Toe book. This is because parental illiteracy is common in children with reading difficulties (Vellutino and Fletcher 2007). Furthermore, Mortimore (2009) cites that scaffolding is significant in ensuring the provision of a reliable framework for a holistic learner. Similarly, the Bangor Approach is highly structured. Cooke (2002) describes a detailed flow diagram of a sequence of procedures which every practitioner.

Cooke (2002) outlines the significance of setting out alphabet letters in an ark shape at the start of every lesson as this is comfortable for the learners and keep them to a routine. Her other handbook proposes a structured phonic programme which teaches new sounds and builds on earlier understanding, similar to Toe by Toe, which builds on previously learned content through memory building technique.

Additionally, Toe by Toe Approach proposes a detailed record-keeping whereby when a learner reads a word correctly, it is ticked. According to Cowling (2017), as the programme develops, each word or letter is ticked, which makes it an excellent approach of keeping progress records. This allows the learner to observe progress and ensures that the letters, sounds or words are embedded in the child's long-term memory (Cowling 1993). Bangor approach correspondingly keep records by an individual keeping a large bank of flashcards showing the words learned and a teaching diary in a phonic book (Miles 1995 and Cooke 2002). In the case of teacher absenteeism, a new teacher, may not know the targets of the learner. Contrastively, using the Toe by Toe Approach requires the teacher to continue from the last session's work. Miles (1995) and Cooke (2002) argue that the Bangor approach gives a high priority to planning if there are breaks between sessions in contrast to Toe by Toe, which occurs daily (Cowling 2017). Furthermore, record keeping in Toe by Toe starts at the beginning of the book regardless of the learner's ability unlike in Bangor Approach, where it is done after performing the Dyslexia screening assessment (Welsh Government 2012). This allows the teacher to record the results and feeds them into a teaching plan hence isolates the learner's strengths and difficulties.

Little and Often

Meyersieck (2015 p. 33) strongly argues that teaching little and often helps avoid burnouts, build fluency, and make scaffolding easier. This programme is designed for daily use, between 15-20 minutes, and is tailored to suit one-to-one contact between the teacher and the learner. Notwithstanding, this dyslexia intervention programme is riddled with problems. For instance, Jeffes (2016) argues that conducting a 15-minute session is difficult, hence essential lessons could be missed, in addition to lack of space to carry out the recommended one-to-one sessions. A solution to these problems is planning deployment of staff to allow pupils not to miss many sessions and give provisions on how to recover missed sessions. Jeffes (2018) also posits that students with most needs should be given more time with the teachers despite Cooke (2002) assertion that available time for lessons may be affected by local factors and how well they are incorporated in the school timetable. Bangor Approach, on the other hand, allows the teacher to choose the length and frequency of the sessions subject to nature and establishment of the learner. This approach enables the learner to visit spelling little and often through 'Look, Write and Cover' method using proofreading, dictation, whiteboard, and magnetic letters, unlike Toe by Toe, which does not regularly teach right spelling.

Overlearning and Multisensory

For successful intervention, overlearning is vital (Meyersieck 2018). In Bangor Approach, overlearning and multisensory activities are intertwined where the previous session is recapped, then more complex sounds are gradually introduced. According to Cooke (2002 p. 3), the provisions of teaching are accelerated by curriculum requirements, which results in inadequate overlearning opportunities, hence dyslectic children with severe difficulties must be given individual help. Similarly, Toe by Toe Approach facilitates overlearning where words are decoded within the book, though this may be frustrating and repetitive for some children. This method teaches the uniqueness of syllable division in an extremely structured scheme, thus new skills are taught, practice in a nonsense word, real word, and in-text is facilitated, then the next skill is introduced (Snowling 2019).

Both Toe by Toe and Bangor Approaches recommend overlearning but through various means. Reid (2009) advocates for multisensory activities as a critical intervention strategy for teaching dyslectic children. Additionally, Chatfield (2017) explains that the use of a large muscle group when learning multisensory activities is vital as it connects the spelling and reading of tactile, auditory, and visual learning pathways. When activated simultaneously, they make the information to enter the brain deeply and intensely. This will result in the effective retrieval of info...

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