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According to Andrea Facoetti, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Padova who co-authored research into the matter, dyslexia cannot be considered a language problem any more.
An ABC article by Mikaela Conley explains that dyslexia is a developmental reading disorder that occurs when the brain does not properly recognize and process certain symbols.
Facoetti says it has been widely “accepted that reading disorders arise from a spoken language problem, [but] results demonstrate the critical role played by visual attention in learning to read.”
Dyslexia, the most common cause of reading and writing difficulties in the US, may affect up to 15 per cent of the population, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Facoetti and colleagues followed 96 Italian children for three years, between kindergarten and third grade. What they observed was that the children who had difficulty identifying certain symbols within patterns and sentences had a harder time reading later on.
Results indicate that the ability to filter out and identify such information is crucial in isolating single letters or syllables before the written words are translated in corresponding speech sounds, says Facoetti.
For this reason the authors feel that treatment for dyslexia should be changed to take this information into account.
The possibility to dramatically reduce the reading disorder would have a great impact in improving the children’s quality of life and in decreasing governmental costs.
It must be noted that Stefanie Hines, director of the Center for Human Development at Beaumont Children’s Hospital in Michigan, feels that, interesting as the findings are, they might not easily translate to US children. The orthography — the relationship between sounds and spelling — is more complicated in English than in Italian.
I would caution that the study was conducted on Italian children. The prevalence of dyslexia in Italy is lower than in the US.
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