Dyslexia and Reading Struggles? It’s Not Just About Reading

Most people think of dyslexia as just a reading problem. But maybe it’s not that simple. New research is bringing light to this multi-faceted issue.

According to a recent article published in the Journal Of Neuroscience there is a deeper cognitive link between dyslexia and visual processing. Scientists worked with 100 children age six through 14 to analyze the differences in visual motion processing between neurotypical kids and those with dyslexia.

Fifty participants with a diagnosis of dyslexia and 50 neurotypical children were challenged to complete a visual motion task of following a mass of onscreen dots while EEG gathered information about their brain activity. Those with dyslexia were slower and less accurate than their counterparts.

Dyslexia expert Donesa Walker, MS Ed, concurs with this outcome, and in her Brainy Moms podcast interview explains how the connection between visual and auditory parts of the brain lacks neurotypical connectivity in people with dyslexia. This means there are likely to be cognitive processing struggles in multiple areas.

“A lot of people think that dyslexia’s only thing is the child cannot read. And that’s not usually the truth. It’s not that the person can’t do things; it’s more that it’s very laborious and not efficient. So they tend to work harder…slower.”

Walker is a Board Certified Cognitive Specialist, and has been working with dyslexic children for more than 30 years, first in public schools and now in private practice at her LearningRx brain training center in Shreveport, LA. Through the years of working with dyslexics Walker has come to believe that dyslexia is a gift: “It’s a way of looking at things in a different perspective and look at things outside the box.”

She has also found that people with dyslexia have had to work much harder than their neurotypical counterparts, to overcome visual processing deficiencies. “That level of grit is incredible…people who are very gifted, people who have high intelligence and great talent, many of them have dyslexia.”

For parents of children with dyslexia it’s important to remember that cognitive training interventions such as LearningRx can help create and strengthen neurological connections to improve reading and other life skills. According to Walker, it is even more important to offer emotional support to your child.

The most powerful thing that you can do is to tell a child, “I see you, I see what you’re going through. I see your struggle. I am going to partner with you and get the help that you need. Whatever intervention phase, I am going to do my part to walk with you because I see you. You are not broken… You learn a little differently, you process things a little differently and we’re going to help you to cope in this world.” 

Check out the original research:

https://www.jneurosci.org/content/42/1/121