+ Tool: Interactive Map of the World’s Languages

Arika Okrent says:

You know about French, Spanish, and Russian, but what about Tohono Oodham, Karaim, and Iu Mien? There are thousands of languages in the world, and the Language Science Center at the University of Maryland has created a tool that makes it fun and easy to explore them.

Langscape is an interactive map of the locations of 6400 of the world’s languages. The map lets you easily view detailed information about each language and listen to sound recordings of them. It’s kind of hard to explain what makes it so cool, so I made a video to give you a taste of the kind of things you can discover with it. (It’s my first screenshot video, so bear with me on the fuzzy production values. I’ll try to do better next time!)


Linguist, author of In the Land of Invented Languages, Arika Okrent lives in Chicago, doing her part to fight off the cot-caught merger and keep “gym shoes” alive.

Orton Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

+ Modern Toys Don’t Develop a Child’s Handwriting Skills

 source: Meaghan at Blue Mango Blog (see link below)

Unstructured outdoor play  improves handwriting skills. Meaghan from Blue Mango Blog offers  other simple changes you can make in your child’s daily routine and indoor environment to promote the development of fine motor skills.

In years past, toys and daily life provided lots opportunities for children’s fine motor growth.   But today experts find a large number of children are lacking the adequate core, upper body,  finger strength and dexterity to successfully pick up a pencil and write with ease.

Has home life really changed that much in the last 25 years to affect children’s fine motor development? How?

Think about paper dolls and jacks. We’ve replaced toys that involved a lot of loose parts and manipulating with your hands with ones that require just a push of a button to make a sound or light up.

Meaghan, blogging at Blue Mango LLC,  spoke to some experts in pediatric occupational therapy.  Consistently the message was that modern electronic toys  deprive children of practice using the necessary skills for fine motor and handwriting.

Toys are, of course, meant to entertain, but the purpose of play in early childhood is to learn about manipulating objects,  performing experiments and examining the world. Many toys today may keep a child busy, but they are doing nothing to actually enhance their development.

Rachel Coley, OT and founder of CanDo Kiddo,  was asked  if anything has changed in the last 25 years in regards to kids’ activities that develop fine motor skills. She said

Through the materials and toys we choose for our kids and the way they spend their time…we over-emphasize the skills of pushing buttons with their thumbs and pointing, dragging and clicking with their index fingers.

Because there aren’t any more hours in the day than there use to be, these activities come at the expense of our kids learning to cut, glue, pinch, put together, pull apart, squeeze, twist, hammer and screw, lace, string and other important fine motor skills.

Take a moment to remember and think about the toys you — and your parents and grandparents –played with as a child.

Modern Convenience = Lazy Fingers

Mom’s life got easier: Click Connect car seats & strollers,  Bumbo chairs.  But it was at the expense of  babies’ gross motor skills development. Modern convenience also strips  children of everyday fine motor skills practice.  Childhood is now really convenient and easy with velcro and slip on shoes, food that can be slurped from pouches and zippered lunch boxes.  It is also true that in the course of a parent’s busy day, he or she will often do things for a child that they should be learning to do on their own…

What are fine motor skills? Why are they so important?

Writing expectations for early elementary students have increased significantly. Some kindergartners have writing workshop for as long as an hour every day. At the same time more academic demands are being placed on children,  activities and tools that naturally promote the development of fine motor skills are being replaced by those that are less demanding of them.

Once adults  understand what fine motor skills are, they are able to seek out and promote experiences for children that will help develop these important muscles and skills.

And the great news is that you don’t need to learn and prep a lot of fancy activities. Once you understand the basics of fine motor skills, you can prioritize the materials in your house or classroom to facilitate this development in your kids.

Understanding the pincer grasp: the pincer grasp is the ability to pick up small objects using the thumb and forefinger. This is developed by age one (and continues to mature);  babies move from a raking grasp with all fingers to picking up individual cheerios with just the two fingers.

Pincer grasp is very important in handwriting. It enables children to hold a pencil correctly and develop a mature tripod grip around a pencil.  Why is something that ought to be simple so important?

Children with nonfunctional pencil grips can’t  keep up with the demand expected of them in school. They begin to avoid writing tasks.  Not only academic accomplishment, but also self-confidence, is diminished.

The importance of hand and arm muscles:  writing uses many different muscles in the hand and wrist. In addition to developing a good pincer grasp, children need to make sure their hand and arm muscles are also strong.

Meaghan spoke with Christie Kiley, and OT who blogs at Mama OT.  Kiley explained how complex and important these hand muscles are.

There are all sorts of small muscles in our hands that make up three main arches around our hands. These arches work together to help our hands accurately form around objects as we hold and manipulate them, such as when we hold a ball, build with blocks, or brush our teeth or hair. These palmar arches are also responsible for helping kids develop in-hand manipulation skills and dissociation of the two sides of the hand.

Christie advocates for weight bearing activities on kids’ hands — such as crawling through tunnels, doing crab walks down the hallway, yoga (downward dog) and gymnastics (handstands) — in order to properly develop these arches.

Strategies to improve handwriting skills.   Rachel Coley:

The biggest things that parents can do to promote their kids’ fine motor skills is to evaluate the toys and materials in their homes and evaluate their family schedule.

Many parents are surprised to find that Occupational Therapists don’t have much specialized equipment for treating their children’s fine motor delays or handwriting difficulties.

What we have are toys and time  [for] being fully present with a child.

Five tips for improving handwriting skills in your own home or classroom, with ideas for materials and toys to stock.

1. Give time for independence in daily routines

Build independence by scheduling time for children to “do it yourself.” Meal times, grooming and getting dressed are great opportunities to let kids take charge and strengthen those little hands and fingers! They can be

  • peeling fruit (oranges, bananas)
  • pouring drinks
  • using knives to cut food
  • using knives to spread butter (or jam, cream cheese, PB) on bread
  • opening & closing lunch containers, snack bags and water bottles

Encourage self-feeding as soon as possible. Toddlers should be using forks and spoons on their own and drinking from real cups.

Toddlers definitely still need some help getting dressed, but older children can learn to be be doing this independently; only a little support and adult encouragement needed. You can add finishing touches, but have children participate in their own grooming.

Kids can:

  • put on & take off socks and shoes
  • do zippers, snaps and buttons
  • learn to tie their shoes
  • brush their hair
  • squeeze their toothpaste
  • begin to learn to floss

2. Help out around the house

Having young children at home – especially if they aren’t in school yet – makes it difficult to get anything done around the house. But you can provide kids with lots of great fine motor experiences by having them help you out.

They can tear lettuce for salads, smash avocados for guacamole, grate cheese, scrub potatoes, mix  batters.  They can knead & roll dough. Doing laundry, kids can help pull clothes out of the hamper, washer and dryer. Even young children can fold socks while older children can help with shirts and pants.

3. Buy the right toys

Meaghan at Blue Mango uses these simple guidelines when purchasing toys to promote fine motor skills:

  • Avoid anything with batteries if it lights up, moves on its own or makes noise count it out
  • Stick with natural materials it’s much harder to go wrong with toys made out of wood
  • Look for toys with “loose parts” check Etsy or DIY – sometimes the best toys are not really “toys”
    Look to Reggio Emilia and Montessori schools for inspiration

Need some more ideas? Here are some examples of great toys to buy:

  • Mancala
  • Traditional wooden blocks
  • Legos – opt for loose blocks and not themed sets
  • Guidecraft construction blocks
  • Tool sets
  • Pegboards – buy one from Etsy, Amazon or DIY
  • Geoboards – buy from Etsy, Amazon or DIY
  • Build & paint car kits
  • Rainbow Loom
  • Perler beads

4. Make use of everyday objects

Consider having these available for play:

Christie Kiley often tells parents of children receiving OT services they can provide the same type of therapeutic practice in their own homes:

Some examples include pinching toothpicks and dropping them into an empty spice container, squeezing chip clips onto the edge of a box, playing with a squirt bottle, and pushing pipe cleaners into the holes of a colander.

5. Have great arts & crafts materials on hand

Promote fine motor skills by encouraging kids to make art or create inventions by cutting & pasting, threading & beading, working with small objects and building with clay or cardboard.  Have your own family “Creation Station,” as some classrooms do. Here are materials to have on hand at home or in the classroom.

Build: cardboard, recycled cardboard boxes, recycled plastic containers & bottles,glue, masking tape.

Sculpt: clay,  play dough (make your own!), Wikki Stix

Meaghan adds kid-friendly knives and scissors for working with play dough, and sometimes hides plastic “jewels” in the clay for kids to find. Use any of these materials to help build letters or sight words in the classroom.

Sew & Make Jewelry: plastic needles (real ones for older kids!); thread, yarn, string; wire; pipe cleaners; beads;  noodles

According to Meaghan, boys love this too! In her class kids made “pattern bracelets” with beads and pipe cleaners at a math center. They made necklaces with fruit loops (arrange by color in groups of 10s) for the 100th day of school.

Sewing can be just putting yarn through punched holes in construction paper to actually sewing real things. Don’t just make beaded necklaces:  teach kids how to braid friendship bracelets.

Cut, Paste & Fasten:   scissors; hole puncher; glue, glue sticks or paste (all use different muscles); scotch tape, colored masking tape; paper with assorted thickness (tissue, construction, card stock); fabric squares; brads (brass fasteners); stamps & ink.

Improve handwriting skills by adding small objects to art area to work on pincer grasp:

  • buttons
  • pom poms
  • jewels
  • stickers
  • toothpicks

Use your whole body, she advises: any activity done in a standing or prone position will also help with overall core and upper body strength. Use sidewalk chalk outside, have clipboard available for work on the floor and use easels for drawing and painting.

Meaghan asks “What will you implement today?”

Thanks to the source blog by Meaghan at Blue Mango LLC . I  edited for clarification since text imported without photos got confusing. Read her intact post at http://www.bluemangollc.com/the-unconventional-guide-to-improving-handwriting-skills-part-iii/

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

+ Exercise Is ADHD Medication

By James Hamblin (from The Atlantic)

Mental exercises to build (or rebuild) attention span have shown promise recently as adjuncts or alternatives to amphetamines in addressing symptoms common to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Building cognitive control, to be better able to focus on just one thing, or single-task, might involve regular practice with a specialized video game that reinforces “top-down” cognitive modulation, as was the case in a popular paper in Nature last year. Cool but still notional. More insipid but also more clearly critical to addressing what’s being called the ADHD epidemic is plain old physical activity.

This morning the medical journal Pediatrics published research that found kids who took part in a regular physical activity program showed important enhancement of cognitive performance and brain function. The findings, according to University of Illinois professor Charles Hillman and colleagues, “demonstrate a causal effect of a physical program on executive control, and provide support for physical activity for improving childhood cognition and brain health.”

If it seems odd that this is something that still needs support, that’s because it is odd, yes. Physical activity is clearly a high, high-yield investment for all kids, but especially those attentive or hyperactive. This brand of research is still published and written about as though it were a novel finding, in part because exercise programs for kids remain underfunded and underprioritized in many school curricula, even though exercise is clearly integral to maximizing the utility of time spent in class.

The improvements in this case came in executive control, which consists of inhibition (resisting distraction, maintaining focus), working memory, and cognitive flexibility (switching between tasks). The images above show the brain activity in the group of kids who did the program as opposed to the group that didn’t. It’s the kind of difference that’s so dramatic it’s a little unsettling. The study only lasted nine months, but when you’re only seven years old, nine months is a long time to be sitting in class with a blue head.

Earlier this month, another study found that a 12-week exercise program improved math and reading test scores in all kids, but especially in those with signs of ADHD. (Executive functioning is impaired in ADHD, and tied to performance in math and reading.) Lead researcher Alan Smith, chair of the department of kinesiology at Michigan State, went out on no limb at all in a press statement at the time, saying, “Early studies suggest that physical activity can have a positive effect on children who suffer from ADHD.”

Last year a very similar study in the Journal of Attention Disorders found that just 26 minutes of daily physical activity for eight weeks significantly allayed ADHD symptoms in grade-school kids. The modest conclusion of the study was that “physical activity shows promise for addressing ADHD symptoms in young children.” The researchers went on to write that this finding should be “carefully explored with further studies.”

“If physical activity is established as an effective intervention for ADHD,” they continued, “it will also be important to address possible complementary effects of physical activity and existing treatment strategies …” Which is a kind of phenomenal degree of reservation compared to the haste with which millions of kids have been introduced to amphetamines and other stimulants to address said ADHD. The number of prescriptions increased from 34.8 to 48.4 million between 2007 and 2011 alone. The pharmaceutical market around the disorder has grown to several billion dollars in recent years while school exercise initiatives have enjoyed no such spoils of entrepreneurialism. But, you know, once there is more research, it may potentially be advisable to consider possibly implementing more exercise opportunities for kids.

Over all, the pandemic of physical inactivity, as Hillman and colleagues put it in their Pediatrics journal article today, is “a serious threat to global health” responsible for around 10 percent of premature deaths from noncommunincable diseases. But it clearly manifests in ways more subtle than deaths, including scholastic performance, which we’re continuously learning. I talked last week with Paul Nystedt, an associate professor of economics and finance at Jönköping University in Sweden, who just published a multi-country study that found that obese teenagers go on to earn 18 percent less money as adults than their peers, even if they are no longer obese. He believes that’s most likely because of the adversity that obese kids experience from classmates and teachers, which leads to both cognitive and noncognitive disparities between obese and non-obese kids. Because obese children are more likely to come from low-income homes to begin with, that only perpetuates wealth gaps and stifles mobility. Nystedt and his coauthors conclude, “The rapid increase in childhood and adolescent obesity could have long-lasting effects on the economic growth and productivity of nations.”

John Ratey, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard, suggests that people think of exercise as medication for ADHD. Even very light physical activity improves mood and cognitive performance by triggering the brain to release dopamine and serotonin, similar to the way that stimulant medications like Adderall do. In a 2012 TED talk, Ratey argued that physical exercise “is really for our brains.” He likened it to taking “a little bit of Prozac and a little bit of Ritalin.” As a rule, I say never trust anyone who has given a TED talk. But maybe in this case that’s a constructive way to think about moving one’s body. But not the inverse, where taking Ritalin counts as exercise.

Copyright © 2015 by The Atlantic Monthly Group. All Rights Reserved.

This article available online at: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/09/exercise-is-adhd-medication/380844/

Orton Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

+ Notre Dame College-Ohio Endorsed by IDA

February 2015

By Kathleen M. Oliverio, Ed.D, Reading Program Coordinator

Notre Dame College Photo
Q: Why did you participate in the IDA Review process?

A: Notre Dame College offers strong programs in teacher education. In addition, we have a mission of serving underserved populations of college-capable students, such as those with learning disabilities. Having IDA review our dyslexia coursework seemed natural and appropriate.

IDA accredited the Reading Endorsement Program at the graduate level. This program appeals to teachers with varied job requirements. Some are interested in adding the Reading Endorsement to their current teaching license. Others are interested in a program that can result in a Master’s Degree with a minor in reading along with the Reading Endorsement. Adding a dyslexia component to the Reading Endorsement curriculum was a logical way to support teachers who work with struggling readers.

Q: How was the experience of preparing for and participating in the review?

A: The preparation process was arduous, but the results are more than worth the effort. We spent a lot of time on alignment of syllabi, supplemental readings, assignments, textbooks, quizzes, and activities. Additional assignments were created to meet both the IDA and Reading Endorsement standards for Ohio. The whole process took about six months to complete. An added benefit was that this process provided the impetus to revamp the Reading Endorsement Program to make it even more valuable to our students. The end result puts us in a better position to serve our education students and the students they will teach. As a result of the IDA review process, our professional education program is now stronger and more responsive to teachers who want to increase their knowledge and ability to recognize and teach students with dyslexia.

Q: What does IDA Recognition (now Accreditation) mean to your university?

A: We are proud to be one of the four colleges and universities in Ohio with IDA accreditation. We view this accreditation as a gauge of the quality of our division of education. We believe that IDA accreditation puts us in a leadership role for serving students with special needs by providing expert teachers to educate them.

Q: Describe some of the innovative ideas you have implemented to give students a richer practicum experience.

A: Due to the fact that the program is online, we had to come up with a way for instructors to work one-on-one with students. As a result, students videotape teaching lessons for the instructor to review. Individualized feedback is provided through a tele-conference. To better meet the demands of the course, it was extended to fifteen weeks instead of the regular eight weeks for our typical online courses to give teachers more instructional time with their students.

Throughout all of the courses in the program, lessons are videotaped so that the instructor can monitor performance of course participants as they teach the major areas of phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, decoding, vocabulary, syntax, semantics, comprehension, and writing. By the time course participants are ready for the practicum course, they have taught numerous lessons with feedback from not only the instructor but other students in the class as well. They have also received instruction in all of the elements included in the IDA Knowledge and Practice Standards.

Q: How has your program leveraged outside partnerships to increase students’ learning experience?

A: Notre Dame College works collaboratively with schools in the greater Cleveland area and surrounding districts. To provide a range of field experiences for our students, we partner with public and private schools in urban, suburban, and rural settings.

Since becoming accredited by IDA, we are actively promoting the program on our college website; in the fall/winter issue of the College Magazine, Notre Dame Today; in monthly newsletters sent by our president to trustees of the college; and other communications we send to alumni, media, local business and community leaders, and supporters of and potential donors to the college.

Calls are starting to come in from people who are becoming aware of IDA and its accreditation of the College. I look forward to more people hearing about the program and future collaboration.

Kathleen M. Oliverio, Ed.D., is assistant professor of education and coordinator of the reading program at Notre Dame College.

Copyright © 2015 International Dyslexia Association (IDA). We encourage sharing of Examiner articles. If portions are cited, please make appropriate reference. Articles may not be reprinted for the purpose of resale. Permission to republish this article is available from info@interdys.org.

Orton Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

+ Dyslexia and the Brain: IDA Fact Sheet

from the IDA Website:

The role of the brain in developmental dyslexia has been studied in the context of brain anatomy, brain chemistry, and brain function—and in combination with interventions to improve reading and information about genetic influences. Together with results of behavioral studies, this information will help researchers to identify the causes of dyslexia, continue to explore early identification of dyslexia, and determine the best avenues for its treatment.

Researchers are continually conducting studies to learn more about the causes of dyslexia, early identification of dyslexia, and the most effective treatments for dyslexia.

Developmental dyslexia is associated with difficulty in processing the orthography (the written form) and phonology (the sound structure) of language. As a way to understand the origin of these problems, neuroimaging studies have examined brain anatomy and function of people with and without dyslexia. These studies are also contributing to our understanding of the role of the brain in dyslexia, which can provide useful information for developing successful reading interventions and pinpointing certain genes that may also be involved.

What is brain imaging?

A number of techniques are available to visualize brain anatomy and function. A commonly used tool is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which creates images that can reveal information about brain anatomy (e.g., the amount of gray and white matter, the integrity of white matter), brain metabolites (chemicals used in the brain for communication between brain cells), and brain function (where large pools of neurons are active). Functional MRI (fMRI) is based on the physiological principle that activity in the brain (where neurons are “firing”) is associated with an increase of blood flow to that specific part of the brain. The MRI signal bears indirect information about increases in blood flow. From this signal, researchers infer the location and amount of activity that is associated with a task, such as reading single words, that the research participants are performing in the scanner. Data from these studies are typically collected on groups of people rather than individuals for research purposes only—not to diagnose individuals with dyslexia.

Which brain areas are involved in reading?

Since reading is a cultural invention that arose after the evolution of modern humans, no single location within the brain serves as a reading center. Instead, brain regions that sub serve other functions, such as spoken language and object recognition, are redirected (rather than innately specified) for the purpose of reading (Dehaene & Cohen, 2007). Reading involves multiple cognitive processes, two of which have been of particular interest to researchers:                   1) grapheme-phoneme mapping in which combinations of letters (graphemes) are mapped onto their corresponding sounds (phonemes) and the words are thus “decoded,” and 2) visual word form recognition for mapping of familiar words onto their mental representations. Together, these processes allow us to pronounce words and gain access to meaning. In accordance with these cognitive processes, studies in adults and children have demonstrated that reading is supported by a network of regions in the left hemisphere (Price, 2012), including the occipito-temporal, temporo-parietal, and inferior frontal cortices. The occipito-temporal cortex holds the “visual word form area.” Both the temporo-parietal and inferior frontal cortices play a role in phonological and semantic processing of words, with inferior frontal cortex also involved in the formation of speech sounds. These areas have been shown to change as we age (Turkeltaub, et al., 2003) and are altered in people with dyslexia (Richlan et al., 2011).

What have brain images revealed about brain structure in dyslexia?

Evidence of a connection between dyslexia and the structure of the brain was first discovered by examining the anatomy of brains of deceased adults who had dyslexia during their lifetimes.

The left-greater-than-right asymmetry typically seen in the left hemisphere temporal lobe (planum temporale) was not found in these brains (Galaburda & Kemper, 1979), and ectopias (a displacement of brain tissue to the surface of the brain) were noted (Galaburda, et al., 1985). Then investigators began to use MRI to search for structural images in the brains of research volunteers with and without dyslexia. Current imaging techniques have revealed less gray and white matter volume and altered white matter integrity in left hemisphere occipito-temporal and temporo-parietal areas. Researchers are still investigating how these findings are influenced by a person’s language and writing systems.

What have brain images revealed about brain function in dyslexia?

Early functional studies were limited to adults because they employed invasive techniques that require radioactive materials. The field of human brain mapping greatly benefited from the invention of fMRI. fMRI does not require the use of radioactive tracers, so it is safe for children and adults and can be used repeatedly which facilitates longitudinal studies of development and intervention. First used to study dyslexia in 1996 (Eden et al., 1996), fMRI has since been widely used to study the brain’s role in reading and its components (phonology, orthography, and semantics). Studies from different countries have converged in findings of altered left-hemisphere areas (Richlan et al., 2011), including ventral occipito-temporal, temporo-parietal, and inferior frontal cortices (and their connections). Results of these studies confirm the universality of dyslexia across different world languages.

What about genes, brain chemistry, and brain function?

Several genetic variants are associated with dyslexia, and their impact on the brain has been investigated in people and mice. Using animals that have been bred to have genes associated with dyslexia, researchers are investigating how these genes might affect development of and communication among brain regions (Che, et. al., 2014; Galaburda, et al., 2006).

These investigations dove-tail with studies in humans. Differences in brain anatomy (Darki, et al., 2012; Meda et al., 2008) and brain function (Cope et al., 2012; Pinel et al., 2012) have been observed in people who carry dyslexia-associated genes, even those people who have good reading skills. In addition to these investigations at the anatomical, physiological, and molecular levels, researchers are trying to pinpoint the chemical connection to dyslexia. For example, brain metabolites that play a role in allowing neurons to communicate can be visualized using another MRI-based technique called spectroscopy.

Several metabolites (for example, choline) are thought to be different in people with dyslexia (Pugh et al., 2014). Researchers continue to explore the connections between these findings and are hopeful that what they learn will help to determine the causes of dyslexia. This is a difficult aspect of research because differences in the brains of people with dyslexia are not necessarily the cause of their reading difficulties (for example, it could also be a consequence of reading less).

Changes in Reading, Changes in the Brain

Brain imaging research has revealed anatomical and functional changes in typically developing readers as they learn to read (e.g. Turkeltaub et al., 2003), and in children and adults with dyslexia following effective reading instruction (Krafnick, et al., 2011; Eden et al., 2004). Such studies also shed light onto the brain-based differences of those children with dyslexia who benefit from reading instruction compared to those who fail to make gains (Davis et al., 2011; Odegard, et al., 2008). Neuroimaging data have also been used to predict long-term reading success for children with and without dyslexia (Hoeft et al., 2011).

Cause versus Consequence

An important aspect of research on the brain and reading is to determine whether the findings are the cause or the consequence of dyslexia. Some of the brain regions known to be involved in dyslexia are also altered by learning to read, as demonstrated by comparisons of adults who were illiterate but then learned to read (Carreiras et al., 2009). Longitudinal studies in typical readers reveal anatomical changes with age, some of which are related to development (Giedd et al., 1999) and others to the firming up of language skills (Sowell et al., 2004) in correlation with improvements in phonological skills (Lu et al., 2007). As such, researchers are teasing apart the brain-based differences that can be observed before children begin to learn to read from differences that may occur as a consequence of less reading by people with dyslexia. For example, researchers have found altered brain anatomy (Raschle, et al., 2011) and function (Raschle, et al., 2012) in pre-reading children with a family history of dyslexia. Future studies using longitudinal designs (i.e., long term), will inform the timeline of these changes and clarify cause and consequences of anatomical and functional differences in dyslexia.


Carreiras, M., Seghier, M. L., Baquero, S., Estévez, A., Lozano, A., Devlin, J. T., & Price, C. J. (2009). An anatomical signature for literacy. Nature, 461(7266), 983–986. doi:10.1038/nature08461

Che, A., Girgenti, M. J., & Loturco, J. (2014). The Dyslexia-Associated Gene Dcdc2 is required for spike-timing precision in mouse neocortex. Biological Psychiatry, in press. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2013.08.018

Cope, N., Eicher, J. D., Meng, H., Gibson, C. J., Hager, K., Lacadie, C., … Gruen, J. R. (2012). Variants in the DYX2 locus are associated with altered brain activation in reading-related brain regions in subjects with reading disability. NeuroImage, 63(1), 148–156. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.06.037

Darki, F., Peyrard-Janvid, M., Matsson, H., Kere, J., & Klingberg, T. (2012). Three Dyslexia Susceptibility Genes, DYX1C1, DCDC2, and KIAA0319, affect temporo-parietal white matter structure. Biological Psychiatry, 72(8), 671–676. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2012.05.008 

Dehaene, S., & Cohen, L. (2007). Cultural recycling of cortical maps. Neuron, 56(2), 384–398. doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2007.10.004

Eden, G. F., Jones, K. M., Cappell, K., Gareau, L., Wood, F. B., Zeffiro, T. A., … Flowers,D. L. (2004). Neural changes following remediation in adult developmental dyslexia. Neuron, 44(3), 411–422.

Eden, G. F., VanMeter, J. W., Rumsey, J. M., Maisog, J. M., Woods, R. P., & Zeffiro, T. A. (1996). Abnormal processing of visual motion in dyslexia revealed by functional brain imaging. Nature, 382(6586), 66–69. doi:10.1038/382066a0

Flowers, D. L., Wood, F. B., & Naylor, C. E. (1991). Regional cerebral blood flow correlates of language processes in reading disability. Archives of Neurology, 48(6), 637–643.

Galaburda, A. M., & Kemper, T. L. (1979). Cytoarchitectonic abnormalities in developmental dyslexia: a case study. Annals of Neurology, 6(2), 94–100. doi:10.1002/ana.410060203

Galaburda, A. M., Sherman, G. F., Rosen, G. D., Aboitiz, F., & Geschwind, N. (1985). Developmental dyslexia: four consecutive patients with cortical anomalies. Annals of Neurology, 18(2), 222–233. doi:10.1002/ana.410180210

Galaburda, A. M., LoTurco, J., Ramus, F., Fitch, R. H., & Rosen, G. D. (2006). From genes to behavior in developmental dyslexia. Nature Neuroscience, 9(10), 1213–1217. doi:10.1038/nn1772

Giedd, J. N., Blumenthal, J., Jeffries, N. O., Castellanos, F. X., Liu, H., Zijdenbos, A., Rapoport, J. L. (1999). Brain development during childhood and adolescence: A longitudinal MRI study. Nature Neuroscience, 2(10), 861–863. doi:10.1038/13158

Gross-Glenn, K., Duara, R., Barker, W. W., Loewenstein, D., Chang, J. Y., Yoshii, F., Sevush, S. (1991). Positron emission tomographic studies during serial word-reading by normal and dyslexic adults.

Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 13(4), 531–544. doi:10.1080/01688639108401069

Hoeft, F., McCandliss, B. D., Black, J. M., Gantman, A., Zakerani, N., Hulme, C.,  
Gabrieli, J. D. E. (2011). Neural systems predicting long-term outcome in dyslexia. PNAS, 108(1), 361–6. doi:10.1073/pnas.1008950108

Krafnick, A. J., Flowers, D. L., Napoliello, E. M., & Eden, G. F. (2011). Gray matter volume changes following reading intervention in dyslexic children. NeuroImage, 57(3), 733–741. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2010.10.062

Lu, L. H., Leonard, C. M., Thompson, P. M., Kan, E., Jolley, J., Welcome, S. E.,  
Sowell, E. R. (2007). Normal developmental changes in inferior frontal gray matter are associated with improvement in phonological processing: a longitudinal MRI analysis. Cerebral Cortex, 17(5), 1092–9. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhl019

Meda, S. A., Gelernter, J., Gruen, J. R., Calhoun, V. D., Meng, H., Cope, N. A., & Pearlson, G. D. (2008). Polymorphism of DCDC2 reveals differences in cortical morphology of healthy individuals—A preliminary voxel based morphometry study.  Brain Imaging and Behavior, 2(1), 21–26. doi:10.1007/s11682-007-9012-1

Pinel, P., Fauchereau, F., Moreno, A., Barbot, A., Lathrop, M., Zelenika, D., … Dehaene, S. (2012). Genetic variants of FOXP2 and KIAA0319/TTRAP/THEM2 locus are associated with altered brain activation in distinct language-related regions. The Journal of Neuroscience: The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 32(3), 817–825. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5996-10.2012

Price, C. J. (2012). A review and synthesis of the first 20years of PET and fMRI studies of heard speech, spoken language and reading. Neuroimage, 62(2), 816–847.

Pugh, K. R., Frost, S. J., Rothman, D. L., Hoeft, F., Tufo, S. N. D., Mason, G. F.,  
Fulbright, R. K. (2014). Glutamate and choline levels predict individual differences in reading ability in emergent readers. The Journal of Neuroscience, 34(11), 4082–4089. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3907-13.2014

Raschle, N. M., Chang, M., & Gaab, N. (2011). Structural brain alterations associated with dyslexia predate reading onset. Neuroimage, 57(3), 742–749.

Raschle, N. M., Zuk, J., & Gaab, N. (2012). Functional characteristics of developmental dyslexia in left-hemispheric posterior brain regions predate reading onset. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109(6), 2156–2161. doi:10.1073/pnas.1107721109

Richlan, F., Kronbichler, M., & Wimmer, H. (2011). Meta-analyzing brain dysfunctions in dyslexic children and adults. Neuroimage, 56(3), 1735–1742. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.02.040

Richlan, F., Kronbichler, M., & Wimmer, H. (2013). Structural abnormalities in the dyslexic brain: A meta-analysis of voxel-based morphometry studies. Human Brain Mapping, 34(11), 3055–3065. doi:10.1002/hbm.22127

Rumsey, J. M., Andreason, P., Zametkin, A. J., Aquino, T., King, A. C., Hamburger, S. D., Cohen, R. M. (1992). Failure to activate the left temporoparietal cortex in dyslexia. An oxygen 15 positron emission tomographic study. Archives of Neurology, 49, 527–534.

Sowell, E. R., Thompson, P. M., Leonard, C. M., Welcome, S. E., Kan, E., & Toga, A. W. (2004). Longitudinal mapping of cortical thickness and brain growth in normal children. The Journal of Neuroscience, 24(38), 8223–8231. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1798-04.2004

Turkeltaub, P. E., Gareau, L., Flowers, D. L., Zeffiro, T. A., & Eden, G. F. (2003). Development of neural mechanisms for reading. Nature Neuroscience, 6(7), 767–773. doi:10.1038/nn1065

© Copyright 2015, The International Dyslexia Association (IDA). IDA encourages the reproduction and distribution of this fact sheet. If portions of the text are cited, appropriate reference must be made. Fact sheets may not be reprinted for the purpose of resale.

IDA Website: http://www.interdys.org

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email  aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

+ 10 Things People Claimed Were Ruining English!

by Lauren Davis

You’ve probably heard that English is being ruined — by the Internet, by texting, by Americans, by young people who have no respect for proper grammar. But it turns out that people have always worried over English, and over the centuries, have accused all sorts of things of “ruining” the language.

1. The Norman Conquest

Let’s start with one thing that actually did put English at genuine risk. In 1066, William the Conqueror occupied England and claimed the English throne. Being the Duke of Normandy, William did not speak English, but Norman French, and French became the language of government and business. But for centuries, English held on at the fringes, the language of the occupied people, even as king and queen after king and queen spoke French and Latin, but hardly a word of English.

It’s small wonder that commentators feared for the fate of the language, even three hundred years after the invasion. The first biography of an English layperson, the Knight William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke, was written in the 12th century in French. Eleanor of Aquitaine, the Queen consort of King Henry II, patronized poets who began singing of Arthurian legend in French. But while French remained the language of the court, English remained the language of the laborers, and in the 14th century, it made a comeback.

Melvyn Bragg, in his book The Adventure of English, credits a number of factors with the resurgence of English in the 14th century: the deaths of a disproportionate number of clergy members during the Black Death, the use of English as the language of populist revolt, the marriages between English women and Norman men, resulting in generations of bilingual children. Eventually, English reasserted itself in the classroom and in business. In 1377, King Richard II, became England’s first monarch to use English exclusively since the Norman Conquest.

Of course, English came out of this battle quite changed; the language of Edward the Confessor was not the language of Geoffrey Chaucer. It had retained many of its roots, but also greedily consumed plenty of French (and later Arabic) words in the intervening years.

2. Foreign Loanwords

Today, it’s hard to imagine English as anything but a hodgepodge of words borrowed from other languages, but for some writers, English went downhill when we started tainting our tongue with Viking and Norman language. One of the original Chicken Littles of the English language was Ranulph Higden, a 14th-century Benedictine monk of St. Werburgh in Chester. Old Ranulph complained that his contemporary English just didn’t sound as nice as it did before those pesky invaders came and screwed everything up. He wrote (in modernized language):

by intermingling and mixing, first with Danes and afterwards with Normans, in many people the language of the land is harmed, and some use strange inarticulate utterance, chattering, snarling, and harsh teeth-gnashing.

Yes, Virginia, people have always been complaining about the English language. Higden was an old-school defender of the language, and curiously, he was defending a version of the language that no longer existed in the common vernacular. After all, as David Crystal points out in his excellent book The Fight for English, many of the words Higden uses in this very complaint (“country” and “language,” for example) come from the French.

3. The Printing Press

The complaints about the printing press when it was first introduced were numerous and wide-ranging. Johannes Trithemius thought that copying texts by hand built character and that the printing press was a threat to the monastic way of life. Many religious leaders feared its ability to disseminate heretical ideas.

William Caxton, who introduced the printing press to England, had to deal with a very particular problem when it came to printing: there was no one English language. A single word in English might have a dozen radically different spellings and pronunciations, and as soon as he started printing, Caxton received criticisms from people who felt that he wasn’t printing their version of English.

But Caxton was a rather shrewd businessman. For one thing, he knew when to accept a correction without argument, such as when Lady Margaret, the sister of King Edward IV “found a default” in Caxton’s English. For another, he was careful to be humble about his English. In the prologue of the first book printed in England, The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troy, Caxton is humble about his English, apparently assuring the reader that he is not trying to claim the English in his book is the best English, only that it is his English.

Printing did have a profound effect on English, in the end. Printers tended to be a bit arbitrary with placing the letter “e” at the ends of words, worrying less about consistent spelling than the length of the line. And Dutch typesetters introduced their own spellings. Many early defenders of the language felt that handwritten books were more carefully copied than printed books, but of course the printed word eventually reigned.

4. Classical Words

As the Renaissance took hold, English was still considered something of a second-rate language, unable to express the full range of ideas that Latin, for example, could. Gradually, scientists and other thinkers in the 16th and 17th century would introduce thousands of Latin and Greek-derived words into the English language. Suddenly, English was peppered with words like “chaos,” “specimen,” “frugal,” “cautionary,” and, aptly, “lexicon.”

Not everyone was pleased with this change in the language, however. The Inkhorn Controversy arose, with opponents of these new words fiercely claiming that they were counterfeit English, tainting the purity of true English. Sir John Cheke, Provost of King’s College, Cambridge, wrote:

I am of this opinion that our own tung shold be written cleane and pure, unmixt and unmangled with borowing of other tunges, wherein if we not heed by tiim [by time], ever borowing and never payeng, she shall be fain to keep her house as bankrupt.

Supporters of the new words, on the other hand, felt that the new words enriched the language. Sir Thomas Elyot called it “the necessary augmentation of our language.” Eventually, this argument sorted itself out naturally. While many of the words coined during this period survived, others, like “fatigate,” “nidulate,” and “abstergify,” fell out of use.

5. Shakespeare

The Elizabethan and Jacobean eras were an exciting time for the English language. You had dramatists like Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare coining words left and right and showing off both the power and the plasticity of the English language. But in the 1600s, some writers on English felt that the poets had gone too far, making English too ornate and unwieldy. While many today hold the era of Shakespeare as the golden age of the English language, Thomas Sprat, who would eventually become Bishop of Rochester, wrote in 1667 that English was deteriorating precisely because it was filled with rhetoric and metaphor (he wasn’t a fan of the new classical words, either). He implored the newly formed Royal Society “to return back to the primitive purity, and shortness, when men deliver’d so many things, almost in an equal number of words.”

A few years later, the poet and critic John Dryden would take aim at Shakespeare specifically, but for different reasons: because Shakespeare had, in his estimation, poor grammar. Dryden felt that the English of the late 17th century was simply more grammatical than Shakespeare’s English. Like so many people, Dryden believed that he spoke the best version of English.

6. Affordable Paper

People today may claim that texting and Twitter makes lazy typists of us all, but George Abbot, Archbishop of Canterbury, was sure that cheap paper meant bad things for the written word. To be fair, the Archbishop was responding to a particularly unfortunate typo in what is now known as the “Wicked Bible.” Some typesetter made a mistake in the Ten Commandments, omitting the word “not” so that one commandment read, “Thou shalt commit adultery.” Oops. Abbott was sure that this was all because paper was getting cheaper and the typesetters less educated:

I knew the time when great care was had about printing, the Bibles especially, good compositors and the best correctors were gotten being grave and learned men, the paper and the letter rare, and faire every way of the best, but now the paper is nought, the composers boys, and the correctors unlearned.

That was in 1631. I’m sure he thinks the state of affairs has only gone down from there.

7. The Lack of a Central Academy for English

In 1635, Cardinal Richelieu established the Académie française, a body for making decisions about the French language. There were a few failed attempts to start a similar institution for English, with a particularly impassioned campaign coming from the satirist, essayist, and poet Jonathan Swift. Much like Thomas Sprat before him, Swift thought that the English language was in a state of decline, though his complaints were a bit different. In his 1712 “Proposal for Correcting, Improving and Ascertaining the English Tongue,” Swift wrote that English:

is extremely imperfect;…its daily Improvements are by no means in proportion to its daily Corruptions;… it offends against every Part of Grammar.

Swift railed against the poets, the spelling reformers, the young academics who pick up new phrases. He worried that English speakers would forget the histories of their words. He felt that English needed protecting, and that some official body was needed to set it back on its proper path and ensure that it wasn’t further corrupted.

8. Abbreviating Words

Once again, we see that there is nothing quite new when it comes to the English language — and complaining about the English language. While people may gnash their teeth over abbreviated words on the Internet or in text messages, abbreviating is nothing new. David Crystal points out that the abbreviation IOU, for example, has been around since 1618. He also notes that complaining about abbreviated words has also been with us for centuries, writing in the Guardian:

In 1711, for example, Joseph Addison complained about the way words were being “miserably curtailed” – he mentioned pos (itive) and incog (nito). And Jonathan Swift thought that abbreviating words was a “barbarous custom”.

9. French Spellings

English folks are often accusing Americans of ruining the language, but lexicographer Noah Webster felt that the English (by way of the Normans) ruined it first. Webster was one of a number of orthographers who felt that English should look more, well, English and less French. He eventually became a strong advocate of dropping the “u” from words with -our endings and changing the -er ending to -re. In his dictionaries, Webster used his own preferred spellings, which eventually caught on in the United States, resulting in the current gap between American and British English spellings.

10. Changing Pronunciations

If anyone has ever corrected the way that you say “research,” telling you that you place the emphasis on the wrong syllable, just know that pronunciations come and go. The English poet Samuel Rogers complained in a work published after his death in 1855:

The now fashionable pronunciation of several words is to me at least very offensive: cóntemplate—is bad enough; but bálcony makes me sick.

At various times in the history of modern English, writers have praised the speech of people who drop the “g” in -ing words when speaking and have worried over the disappearance of the letter “r” in the pronunciation of words like “harm” and “arm.” Much like changing spellings, new phrases, and shifting grammatical styles, these pronunciations haven’t ruined English, as far as we can tell. They’ve only changed it.

Sources: Melvyn Bragg, The Adventure of English: The Biography of a Language; David Crystal, The Fight for English: How Language Pundits Ate, Shot, and Left; Henry Hitchings, The Language Wars: A History of Proper English; Jack Lynch, The Lexicographer’s Dilemma: The Evolution of ‘Proper’ English, from Shakespeare to South Park; Ammon Shea, Bad English: A History of Linguistic Aggravation.


Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

+ Vocabulary Talking Points: New Words in New Texts

Vocabulary building tips from Text Project.org —

Tell your middle school students that written material contains more rare words than everyday spoken language.  Explain to students they should not be surprised; they should expect them.

Here are some talking points explained (using our what/when/why/how approach):


Develop the understanding that every complex text has new, challenging vocabulary. Vocabulary instruction gives students the means for figuring out new words in text, not instruction in every single word that might appear in new texts.


Talk about the vocabulary of new texts;  this needs to occur across a school year (with extra doses prior to assessment periods).


Take a portion of the text (25 or 50 words is enough). Use a highlighter to mark the words in the 1,000-2,000 most-frequent words (List of 4,000 simple word families at: http://textproject.org/classroom-materials/lists-and-forms/lists/word-zones-for-5-586-most-frequent-words/)
Mark the words that are potentially challenging with a different colored highlighter.

The example given is of a snippet of text for a board/projection. It is the about 10-year-old Amelia Earhart, who attended a flying exhibition, saw a rusty airplane  performing stunts, and developed a passion for aviation.  (It comes from a sample assessment for Grade 7)


Here are some of the talking points for a conversation between teachers and middle-school students about new vocabulary in complex texts:

  • “One of your goals as middle schoolers is to understand that any new text likely has words that you haven’t seen before.”
  • “This is a text from one of the sample assessments for the new state test. This text might look like it is hard and it may even be on the first read. But I’ve studied the text and I know that all of you know most of the words. Even most of the words that you don’t know (point to stunt) can be figured out with the word skills you have.”
  • “Also remember that words that are capitalized inside sentences are usually names. The strategy with names is to do the best you can, knowing that names are often pronounced in unusual ways because they may come from different languages. In this case, the person’s last name is one that you can figure out with your knowledge of words (demonstrate with Ear hart).”
  • “That leaves two words that are multisyllabic in the text and that you might not be able to read (point to exhibition and aviation). I want you to read this paragraph and see if you can figure out these words.”

Source: http://www.textproject.org/classroom-materials/lists-and-forms/vocabulary-matters-5-facts-actions-and-resources/

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com