Did you know that students who struggle to read visually or read slowly, and with much effort, could be reading quickly and effortlessly using reading by listening, made possible by our new technologies and a clear understanding of what dyslexia is? Instead of struggling to sound out words or avoiding print, students with dyslexia who use assistive technology make use of their advanced reading skills and thrive in the world of print. For example, my visual decoding and spelling skills are comparable to the average third grader, yet I read and write voraciously and teach others with dyslexia to do the same. How can that be? This happens because we have learned to avoid letting poor visual decoding block us from using our advanced reading skills. We read at 250 to 400 words per minute using reading by listening technology and write as fast as we can speak using writing by speaking technology.
What are these advanced reading skills? While most people think of reading as pronouncing the print words that are seen on a page, that visual decoding of the words is only a tiny step in the process of reading. The more essential steps happen after we hear the words pronounced. These are the steps that give meaning to the words. If a student doesn't have the advanced skills for getting meaning, they may be able to pronounce all words but won't understand what the words and sentences are saying. I once did a psychological evaluation of a young girl who could visually decode and pronounce words far above her grade level, and you would think she would be a good reader, however she could pronounce words quickly and effortlessly but she didn't know the meanings of the words. The result of the evaluation was that she was borderline mentally disabled. She could pronounce words, but she didn't know what they meant.
On the other hand, students with dyslexia have very well-developed advanced reading skills. For instants, when they hear words, they instantly recognize them as known words. They know the meaning of words and often no multiple meanings for words. They know how words that are put together give other meanings. When they hear a complex passage, they can understand it. They have skills for interpreting, analyzing, and comprehending language. These are the crucial reading skills, and bright students with dyslexia have an innate talent for these reading skills. They are like the opposite of that young girl. Once a bright student with dyslexia removes that visual decoding barrier by using reading by listening, they unleash their advanced reading skills, tap into their innate talent for language, and become rapid and effortless readers. These talents are instantly and automatically unleashed as soon as the words are spoken.
Are your students with dyslexia making full use of their innate reading skills?
To accompany this blog post, we have a Facebook post for talking about dyslexia, please join in the conversation at https://www.facebook.com/DyslexiaTech/photos/a.493770870768344/2602792079866202