"Dys" means bad or difficult and "lexia" means word. Dyslexia is a reading disorder characterized by difficulty breaking down words into their minimal sound units or phonograms. There are 44 sounds in English which are represented by 70 phonograms. The long sound "ay" can be represented by the phonograms "ay", "ai", "a", "ei", "ea" and "eigh". The English language is considered a complex language. To know it well, it is important to be able to recognize each of the minimal sound units and to be able to associate each with it's sound or sounds.
Dyslexics have difficulty recognizing these written sound units and the result is that like-sounding words often get confused. The cause of dyslexia is not really known. Some studies have noted that brain patterns of dyslexics are different, pointing to a physical cause. Autopsies of poor reader's brains have revealed some differences in the language areas of their brains to the brains of good readers.
Dyslexia can also run in families. This, however, does not necessarily point to a genetic link as methods of learning and commitment to learning generally run in families too. It has been found that early training in phonograms helps dyslexics.
One school of thought is that dyslexia is more a learned disorder than a learning disorder. If given correct phonetic training in the early years when learning to read, the number of cases of dyslexia decreases. This learning can also take place later on as revealed by a classroom study published in USA educational publication Education Week with 76 poor readers who were given 30 minutes a day of extra tutoring breaking down words where 70% were reading average by the end of the first semester and 85% by the end of the second semester.
Another case that showed improvement in dyslexia after having specific phonics training was sent in to ourselves. It comes from Mr T. Spokes in Northern Territory, Australia. His whole letter is up on the web site under "testimonials" but to paraphrase, Mr Spokes was diagnosed as "slow" in Grade three at school and was put in "remedial" or "special" classes. Mr Spokes hated reading "as the words made no sense in the way they were constructed." Upon entering university, Mr Spokes was diagnosed as being slightly dyslexic. "Phonics was the psychologists first line" and in the space of two to three months he slowly improved. After leaving school at 15 on the advice of his teachers as they felt he would never get a job, Mr Spokes now holds 2 biology diplomas, 3 science degrees, and a Master Degree in Nursing. "I am now making application for entry into Medicine, he writes."Besides training in phonics, other things that can be done for dyslexics in schools include giving more time to complete tests because of the longer reading time required to read the test papers, avoiding multiple choice tests which provide no contextual clues. It is estimated that dyslexia affects between 5-20% of school age children in America, depending on whether you include all the children who can't read because they haven't been taught phonetics, or not.
We have a theory of our own that we have been able to test with significant success on only a handful of dyslexics. It appears that language recognition or reading is carried out by the long term memory areas of the brain. This may be why dyslexics can have productive one on one sessions and for 15 minutes or so can distinguish between 'b' and 'd' for instance. However a short while afterwards they revert to the original confusion. Our theory is that when 'b' and 'd' were first encountered their similar mirror images and similar sounds were filed in long term memory as being the same. No matter how many times the short term memory tries to correct the long term memory the original program persists. Phonics helps because the symbols get new associations b and bih, d and dih. New programming nestles alongside old by augmenting it; not telling it that it is wrong about 'b' and 'd' being the same. This is where ReadingMaster and its visual associations with real life images to the sounds and the letters really seems to make a difference. Being passed to long term memory is 'b', bih as in bubble and 'd', dih as in duck. The new association with duck for d, dih and bubble for b, bih creates a separating of these previously inseparable letters in the brain through on a new association with an image and physical object that adds to the old program effectively unscrambling it.
Footnote: For more on dyslexia see Dr. Eric H. Chudler