Dyslexia refers specifically to learning disabilities encountered in reading. It may at times be characterized by difficulties that occur in recognizing, decoding and spelling words correctly. Due to these challenges brought forth by the disorder, there may be problems caused with reading comprehension and slowed down vocabulary growth. In addition to the outcomes brought about by the disorder, dyslexia may lead to poor fluent loudly out reading. It is thus considered a neurological disorder. It offers hindrance to aspects involved in the learning process such as reading, writing, and spelling and to some extent speaking. The neurological disorder affects the brain in such a way that it processes and interprets information in a different way.
Over the years, governments such as the United States have engaged in massive activities that aim at solving the issues involved with this disorder with no success. According to research conducted by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in 2011, less than half of the fourth grade students (42%) scored above the proficient level in reading. In the minorities and English learners portrayed even worse results. White students gave an outstanding result that ranged at 55% whereas African Americans gathered 19%. Hispanics on the other hand got 21% and 3% went to English learners. This study indicated that students who are not able to read properly in their early grades have the tendency of higher risks of performing poorly in later stages (Morgan, 2013).
Over the past 20 years, efforts have been made among practitioners, researchers and policy makers in the development policy and identification of effective interventions to help children with these problems. These efforts have involved improving initial teaching and reading, one on one tutoring, small group tutorials, comprehensive school reforms as well as technological applications. Some of these strategies applied have become effective in some cases but educational technology has been one of the most successful. More struggling readers are now being integrated into general classrooms where there is prevalent use of educational technology (Morgan, 2013).
Additionally it is important to consider the effects that are brought about by dyslexia. Some of these effects include difficulties in reading, writing or even differentiating the left side from the right one. Some children depict few signs of difficulty in their early stages when they are learning how to read and write. These challenges may exceed even after they grow up. They may encounter problems with complex language skills like grammar, reading comprehension and more in-depth writing. The people suffering from this condition have difficulty in expressing themselves. They are challenged in the use of vocabulary and find it hard structuring their thoughts when engaging in conversations (Morgan, 2013).
Children with this disorder and poor working memory are characterized with difficulties performing two or more parallel information processing tasks at the same time. This is due to the fact that the working memory has a dynamic system where sensory information about language is temporarily stored and manipulated. They are thus unable to see the letter(s) at the beginning of a word which is accompanied with difficulties identifying the sound made by letters. In this case, they end up replacing it with another letter to create a new word (Morgan, 2013).
The adoption of technology has been largely utilized in order to alleviate the conditions of these children. They have significantly transformed the way people interact with the written words through spurring an evolution in the social conventions for reading that has advanced at high rates. These computer based technologies present options to reformat text in ways that are customized to the needs and preferences of the individual. They have facilitated a linkage to other tools that enrich the reading process and similarly broaden access. These conditions are prevalent in young children at all stages but young children who suffer from this disorder have a variety of signs and symptoms (Morgan, 2013). To start with, they encounter difficulty in areas such as recognizing letters and matching them to sounds or even blending them to make a speech. They have also depicted challenges in pronouncing words where the letters are interchanged. These are coupled with difficulty in learning and correctly using new vocabulary words as well as learning the alphabet, numbers and days of the week. Rhyming is also characterized with some of the challenges faced by these children (Morgan, 2013).
These signs may continue even as the children develop in the different levels of school. When they are at school, children with this condition have difficulty mastering the rules of spelling as well as remembering numbers or even facts. They are not able to learn and understand new skills and largely depend on memorizing. They are also not able to follow a sequence of directives and have much trouble with mathematical words. These conditions have been identified for many years with extensive researches conducted to regulate them. They are impacted by the various interventions used with some recording positive effects as opposed to others. According to Morgan (2013) there were about 97 studies conducted to compare various approaches to help the struggling readers. Among these approaches were one on one tutorial, small group tutorial, classroom process approaches and the use of technology. Out of the studies, about 14 were evaluations of educational technology applications in reading for elementary and secondary students. These studies indicated that the use of technology had little impact on the reading achievement of struggling readers (Morgan, 2013).
The research about struggling readers as conducted by Wright and Clearly, (2006) aimed at evaluating the use of educational technology application to help in teaching these struggling readers in elementary school. The criteria applies an inclusion method which would help in the exploration of the different impacts of moderator variables such as types on intervention, grade level, program intensity, research design and how recent the educational technology applications were. The study focuses on the determination of the unique contribution of technology itself and the effectiveness of programs that incorporate the use of educational technology (Wright and Clearly, 2006).
The study had applied traditional educational technology such as traditional supplemental programs CAI, comprehensive methods, small group integrated supplemental programs and Fast for Word. The studies were coded in order to examine the relationship between effects and methodological studies as well as substantive features (Wright and Clearly, 2006). The study featured types of publication, the years they were published, research design, sample size the grade level as well as the types of program and its intensity. The effects in this case were evaluated in terms of the difference between experimental and control individuals’ post-tests after adjustment for pretests. These studies produced more than one effect due to the fact that the measures were not independent (Wright and Clearly, 2006).
Similarly, the study conducted on CNN where the researchers measured the students’ reading speed with a stop watch. They applied different materials such as traditional paper and technological devices such as iPods. The difference in this case is that the researchers used different font sizes where the paper had 14 inch font and the iPod had 42 size fonts. The results in this study indicated that students using the iPod read faster as compared to those reading from the paper. It also indicated that the students were able to remember more. The advantage with this study is that e-readers are applicable in cases that aim at helping the struggling readers. They brought out the fact that dyslexia is different and the use of educational technology is essential. On the other side, the disadvantage is that the study was not quite precise in measuring the speed of reading.
This is due to the fact that it did utilize similar conditions and materials written under similar conditions. They would have applied font size 14 in both cases in order to evaluate the speed of reading on different devices.
The studies conducted about this topic bring about the effect that the assessment tools used in the determination of the type of dyslexia the students have would be necessary for teachers and parents as well. Hence, identifying the type of dyslexia would result to evaluation of the devices that would best suit the reading skills of the child. Treatment of this disorder would be helpful if identified at the early stages (Swanson and Howard, 2005). This would prevent development of the disorder that affects the functionality of the children. Adults who have been diagnosed with these conditions have portrayed results that they are often working in positions that are lower than their intellectual capacity. When exposed to the various approaches used to treat the disorder, people have indicated that they can become good readers and writers (Swanson and Howard, 2005).
The dyslexia disorder is at times attributed to high poverty levels where studies have been conducted to bring about the fact that most of the children with this condition come from poor back grounds. Similarly, it is evident that readers need material that is spaced out in terms of few sentences and words in lines. The short lines facilitate reading by guiding attention to the less crowded span (Swanson and Howard, 2005). Crowding is a neurological phenomenon that impairs peripheral recognition of flanked characters. It also fundamentally limits the number of letters that can be perceived at a glance. Efficient reading requires attention to be directed to the less crowded span of text. It should be centered at fixation as the gaze shifts during reading. The attention deficits associated with dyslexia make this challenge by disrupting processes required to maintain attention to the less crowded span as fixations advance from one word to the next (Swanson and Howard, 2005).
The sources in this case and in the determination of the dyslexia disorder have clearly portrayed the searches done and the aims that they want to achieve. They have clearly defined the methodology used and elaborated the conditions under which the studies have been carried out. For instance they offer information based on the conditions that are favorable for the struggling readers. Short lines in the reading material help inhibit the perception of text previously read (Swanson and Howard, 2005). This is one of the effects brought out in the texts where they consider the studies on tracking the eye while reading. It indicates that reading long and short lines of text was compared and the incidence of regressive saccades decreased by a factor of two when short lines were used. This brings about the conclusion that reading short lines in the iPod condition controls regression by simply eliminating crowded text to the left that would otherwise drive attention away from the less crowded span and promote inefficiency during reading (Swanson and Howard, 2005).
Oversensitivity to the text on the left of fixation could arise as a consequence of sluggish attention shifting in dyslexia. The sluggish mode of shift is assumed to slow down the rate at which attention disengages from previously fixed words. The advancements that occur in the fixations from one word to the next spread attention to the left and over emphasize perception of crowded text in fields previously read (Swanson and Howard, 2005).
Controversies and implications
Despite all the studies conducted based on this topic, there is limited review presented. This is accompanied by the limit of evidence base for the use of technology application to enhance the reading performance of struggling readers in elementary school. Most of the studies conducted did not meet the inclusion standards and many were small while the big tests indicated small effects. Some of the studies for instance the one conducted on CNN have failed to focus on the desired outcome. They have applied fewer measures that are different from their desired goal. Additionally, the effect sizes found for various technological applications for struggling first graders are somehow similar to those found for similar phonics focused small group interventions that do not use technology. They are also less than those associated with phonetic or small groups (Swanson and Howard, 2005).
The basic things that need to be done in order to help children struggling with this condition are that parents and teachers need notice the success made by their children. They also need to celebrate the success made by their children after exposing them to the educational technology. They should set realistic goals for them and support them regardless of the errors they make. Reading aloud to your children helps them get the courage to try doing the same. This should be coupled with small steps of development where they are required to apply some of the things they have learnt on their daily chores. E-readers may be effective in this case as they allow the children or rather those struggling readers to adjust their points of focus. For instance, the use of iPods at bigger font sizes may be used to motivate the children to attempt doing it in their own (Swanson and Howard, 2005).
E-readers may help people with dyslexia – The Chart - CNN.com Blogs. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2013/09/18/e-readers-may-help-people-with-dyslexia/
Morgan, Hani. (2013). Multimodal Children's E-Books Help Young Learners in Reading. Early Childhood Education Journal, 41(6), 477-483.
Swanson, H. Lee; Howard, Crystal B (2005). CHILDREN WITH READING DISABILITIES: DOES DYNAMIC ASSESSMENT HELP IN THE CLASSIFICATION? Learning Disability Quarterly, 28(1), 17-34.
Wright, Jim; Cleary, Kristi S. (2006). Kids in the tutor seat: Building schools' capacity to help struggling readers through a cross-age peer-tutoring program. Psychology in the Schools, 43(1), 99-107.