Lisa Livingston, the mother of one of our students, writes from Virginia
So, I have heard Bob talk about OnlineReadingTutor and how their training makes new neural connections to the reading centers on the left side of the brain. I believed him, but did not really understand it until I read a book called The Dyslexic Advantage by Brock and Fernette Eide. They have a section that explained it in a way that made sense to me.
Drs. Sally and Bennett Shaywitz first demonstrated, through a Functional MRI, the brain areas that dyslexics use when reading. Dr. Maryanne Wolf summarized this study by writing, “The dyslexic brain consistently employs more right-hemisphere structure [for reading and its component processing activities] than left-hemisphere structures.” (M. Wolf, Proust and the Squid, p. 186) The right hemisphere focuses more on aesthetics, feelings, and creativity. The left hemisphere focuses on logical thinking, analysis, and accuracy. Obviously, reading should be accessing the left hemisphere primarily.
The Eides gave an example of a right-to-left hemisphere shift that occurs with training. That example is the developing of musical expertise. They wrote, “Researchers have shown that untrained music listeners process melodies primarily with their right hemispheres, so they can grasp the large-scale features (or gist) of the melody. By contrast, expert musicians process music more heavily with their left hemispheres, because they focus on the fine details and technical aspects of the performance.” (B. and F. Eide, The Dyslexic Advantage, p. 34) How do dyslexics brains make that shift to the left hemisphere?
As quoted from OnlineReadingTutor’s website, “When students with a specific reading disability (dyslexia) receive training in the foundation skills of reading, namely phonemic awareness, sound symbol association (phonics), decoding, vocabulary and comprehension new neural connections are made to the reading centres on the left side of the brain.” Dyslexics must have intensive training to develop automaticity and fluency in reading. This training must have relatively short ( 30 to 40 minutes) but frequent sessions. Training four to five days a week is very effective. Training also needs to be targeted on the student’s individual skill gaps.
The younger a student is, the quicker the results. Research by Dr Sally Shaywitz shows that if effective intervention occurs before the age of nine, dyslexics can become normal left brain readers. However, it is never too late for dyslexics to improve their reading fluency and comprehension.
My conclusion is, do not give up. Training with OnlineReadingTutor will accomplish this right-to-left hemisphere shift.