The development of reading proficiency in childhood is a public health issue: literacy is a widely recognized determinant of health outcomes and is associated with many indices of academic, social, vocational, and economic success. Children skilled in reading go on to perform better in school, attain higher levels of education, experience lower rates of disease, are less likely to be incarcerated or experience poverty, are more likely to find employment, and achieve higher average incomes as adults compared to children who fail to achieve reading proficiency.
For many children with reading impairments, however, the process of learning to read is rife with struggle and frustration, and these children are left susceptible to adverse secondary outcomes, including anxiety and depression.
Led by Harvard researcher Dr. Nadine Gaab, Sanfilippo et al. (2019) argue for earlier dyslexia interventions. They state, “Currently, children are typically diagnosed at the end of second or beginning of third grade (and many much later), after they have already failed to learn to read over a long period of time and have fallen behind their peers academically”.Rather than wait until age eight or nine to diagnose and treat dyslexia, parents, teachers, and clinicians can recognize “key linguistic and pre-literacy measures…in children as young as four years old”. The following are predictors of dyslexia to look for in young children:
Dyslexia affects areas of the brain that process language. This means that children with dyslexia have difficulty relating letters and words (decoding). Lighthouse reader helps the child focus on the line of text or word being read by shading the text above and below and choosing how dark the shading should be and the color of the shading. The child can change the font type, font color, font spacing, and font size on any book in our library. Our Text of Speech feature helps the child listen to the words as well as follow along as its being read aloud.
Reading comprehension can sometimes be a challenge for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In order to grasp the reading material, a child must be able to recognize and decode words as well as sustain attention and effort. Reading comprehension requires the ability to effectively use working memory and process information in an efficient and timely manner.
Because children with ADHD have deficits in these areas, reading can be difficult. While research shows that treatment of ADHD is important in improving reading skills, there are other strategies these children can use to improve literacy.
Have a kid with ADHD who’s struggling to read well? Try giving such children books about subjects that actually interest them. If a student likes trains, for instance, have the child read a book about the topic. Giving children books about topics they enjoy can help them do a better job of recalling what they’ve read. During the process, teach the student a variety of literacy strategies, including how to become an active reader.Students with ADHD will have an easier time maintaining attention on reading passages that are exciting, stimulating, and of shorter length.
Minimize outside distractions during reading time. Some students do better reading in quiet places, while others prefer white noise, such as background sounds or music while reading. Allow the student to read in chunks of time, taking breaks to move around and refocus. Teach students how to use a bookmark to keep their place on the page. Slide the bookmark down the page one line at a time. When reading longer passages, help students break down reading material into shorter segments so it is not as overwhelming.
With Lighthouse Reader a child can choose to cover the words already read and the words not yet read. The child can also use a frame to move with the words being read. This is all in addition to adding shading above and below and changing the color of the shading.
Research on reading has shown that children acquire decoding and reading comprehension skills at the same time, but that each skill develops independently of the other. Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) typically perform at average or above average levels when it comes to decoding written language.
However, they are generally better at sounding out and identifying words than understanding what they have read. This may be because comprehension is a more abstract skill than decoding. It relies on a reader’s sensitivity to story structure, ability to pick up on referents, make inferences and use prior knowledge of the subject to makes sense of the text.
Attention and working memory are also implicated, as metacognitive monitoring strategies ensure the reader is following along.
Children with autism may read and process language in a fluent way. This is in contrast to children with dyslexia who often struggle to decode written language. Nonetheless, these children are not always able to access semantic meaning in the same way.
They can have trouble visualizing action and understanding the social interactions upon which many storylines rely. Subtle hints left by the author can be missed or a detail might absorb all of the child’s attention so the rest of the text is not fully processed.
Have you heard of hyperlexia? Some children with autism possess an uncanny ability to read and process text at a very fast pace. Researchers have used brain scans to show that this is due to simultaneous activity in the left and right hemispheres of the brain, allowing for phonological and visual processing to be engaged at the same time.
Autism is referred to as a spectrum disorder due to the wide range of symptoms that individuals may present. For this reason, it’s important to explore a variety of interventions if one strategy for enhancing comprehension is proving ineffective.
1. Start with audio-books or books that contain images. Some students with autism learn best through sound while others tend to be strong visual learners. Take advantage of this by playing audio-books in the car or on a home stereo or reading picture books that clearly show action and narrative progression.
2. Select material on their favorite subject. Some children take an extreme interest in certain subject areas so try providing them with material that satisfies their thirst for knowledge. Any practice with reading comprehension is helpful even if it means they read several books on the same topic.
3. Show them how to read on a computer or tablet. Technology is often a preferred medium for learning given it doesn’t require any social interaction. Show learners how to research online, read material from the web and access digital books.
4. Highlight referents and annotate paragraphs. Teach children with autism to monitor their understanding as they read. Show them how to re-read for missing information. It may be helpful to highlight and underline text.
5. Promote sight reading. The more words a child recognizes, the easier it is to understand a sentence. New readers can reduce the amount of decoding needed by familiarizing themselves with sight words or high frequency terms that they are likely to encounter regularly.
Lighthouse reader offers text to speech with high quality voices for all books on our platform. We also suggest books based on past read and favorite subjects. A parent or coach can suggest books and chat about a book in the platform. A child can annotate by writing in a personal journal including citations. The child can also use sight reading by clicking on a word which will then be read aloud and highlighted. The words can be made very large including changing the color, font, and spacing.
Children with cortical visual impairment (CVI) present a unique challenge to educators and families, and many wonder what the impact is on the development of literacy skills.
Cortical visual impairment (CVI) is a term used to describe visual impairment that occurs due to brain injury. CVI differs from other types of visual impairment which are due to physical problems with the eyes. CVI is caused by damage to the visual centers of the brain, which interferes with communication between the brain and the eyes. The eyes are able to see, but the brain is not interpreting what is being seen.
Cortical visual impairment (CVI) is often referred to by other terms including: cerebral visual impairment, neurological visual impairment, brain damage related visual impairment and so forth. All of these terms refer to visual dysfunction resulting from injury to visual centers of the brain. We will always refer to it as cortical visual impairment or CVI.
Dr. Roman-Lantzy, author of Cortical Visual Impairment: An Approach to Assessment and Intervention, divides CVI into three phases. Most children start in Phase I, which means that most of the CVI characteristics are present. As a child progresses through the three phases many of the characteristics begin to resolve. This process can take several years and requires diligence and persistence. Children in Phase III approach near normal vision to varying degrees and this may even result in literacy.
The wonderful reality of CVI is that it can, and usually does, get better with appropriate intervention. A study conducted by Dr. Roman-Lantzy found that, in a select group of children with CVI who had highly motivated parents, 97% went from Phase I to Phase III in an average of 3.7 years. Some vision specialists or teachers of the visually impaired (TVI) are knowledgeable about CVI and can help with assessment and intervention strategies. Even without the assistance of vision specialists there is a lot that you as a parent can do.
Lighthouse Reader has integrated with Dr. Roman’s Bubble Technology. A child can choose to show show the bubble words only on the word they are reading currently or the entire page. The child can choose the bubble color, thickness and word gaps.