How to Overcome Barriers to Learning

Consider the following signs & symptoms:

1. Skipping words or lines

2. Reversing letters or numbers

3. Words moving on the page

4. Slow reading speed

5. Difficulty following instructions

Although dyslexia is generally understood to be a language problem many of the behaviours observed, such as those described above can also be explained apart from language.

It may surprise you to learn that at least 99% of students with dyslexia between the age of 7 and 17 have a problem with their visual or auditory skills and that between 80% to 92% have a problem with BOTH visual and auditory skills! These findings are based on the work published by the Optomotor Laboratory at the Freiburg University in Germany which involved testing the visual and auditory development of thousands of dyslexic students and is summarised in the book “Visual Aspects of Dyslexia“.

Although listening skills are important for spelling and sounding out words when learning to read, there are also numerous studies to support a visual link to learning. In one recent study at the University of Padua in Italy that involved young children from kindergarten to grade 2 level it was found that visual attention skills such visual search and discrimination were the best predictors of future reading ability. The investigators highlighted the need for better visual interventions, especially for dyslexia, whilst acknowledging the importance of existing approaches.

The impact of a problem occurring with visual and auditory skills is to create a barrier to learning. Typically this will result in less efficient strategies for learning (eg. finger to keep place) but in more severe cases this can make it profoundly difficult for students to respond in the classroom.

Unfortunately visual problems are frequently missed. One of the main reasons for this is that eyesight and hearing are often found to be normal and clinicians may not look further leading parents to rule out visual and auditory factors as a contributing factor.

Without help many students will continue to persist with these problems throughout school. With the right kind of assistance however visual and auditory development can often be improved to age normal levels.

The goal of intervention is to overcome critical barriers to learning caused by visual and auditory delays, thereby allowing a student to respond more effectively to academic learning.

In most cases, skills CAN be improved to age normal levels with around 10 to 15 minutes of training a day over a period of months but it does require a concentrated effort and support from the family & school. This should not preclude conventional approaches however such as extra tuition in reading and maths, since these are skills that still need to be learned.

Click to view some of the scientific studies linking visual and auditory skills to learning outcomes.

For more information regarding treatment go to http://icept.co.nz