Do you have a child with diagnosed or suspected Dyslexia?
- Does your child have difficulty learning the sounds that letters make?
- Does your child tend to skip letters/ words/ or lines while reading?
- Does your child have difficulty distinguishing between similar letters such as p/d/b/ , M/N/W/V/U
- Does your child need frequent breaks when reading?
- Does your child have poor reading comprehension?
- Does your child have difficulty with ball sports?
- Does your child have difficulty processing movement input (gets dizzy easily or not at all)?
There is a lot of research around the presence of deficits within the visual system in children with dyslexia. Children with dyslexia often have difficulties directing their eyes in the right place and some experience visual disorientation also seen as static reversals. Many dyslexic children show impairments in steady fixation (keeping eyes focused on one spot) , inefficient saccade patterns (shifting vision from place to place required for reading), and motion-processing disorders (become disoriented easily with movement input and/or have difficulty visually attending to objects moving in space). These researchers have identified deficits in magnocellular pathway function in children with dyslexia (a pathway by which visual information leaves the retina and moves toward the visual cortex). The Magnocellar pathway is responsible for rapid processing and timing of visual information by directing eye movement and visual attention which is the basis for detecting motion, directing visual attention, and guiding saccadic eye movements to follow objects in the visual field. Children with dyslexia also have difficulty shifting attention from visual to auditory information (ex: computer games to listening to instructions) in order to generate a motor response to the new stimuli but response time is faster when visual and auditory information is paired (Harrar, et. al., 2014). Functionally, this means that visual input or auditory input alone is not sufficient for optimum learning. Research also suggests an overlap in symptoms with Dyslexia, ADHD, and Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD).
Research has found that:
Activities that combine movement, auditory and visual information increase areas of the brain responsible for perception of motion, visual orientation, and motor responses to stimuli.
Training to detect faster movement improves lexical decision making. (Choake, 2012) Lexical decision making is a basic testing procedure which involves measuring how quickly people classify stimuli as words or nonwords.
Improving motion detection, tracking, scanning, and juggling after visual motor training results in improved phonological awareness (Quian & Bi, 2015), the ability to recognize and work with sounds in spoken language. This is the foundation for learning to read.
Sensory Integration therapy alone is not sufficient to help children with Dyslexia learn to read. Intervention should always be paired with educational supports for reading practice. However, Children with Dyslexia can significantly benefit from sensory-based intervention, especially when it focuses on development and refinement of processing movement information and improving functional vision in space. This strengthens the link between the visual and vestibular (motion processing) systems. We use suspended equipment and whole body movement with targeting to improve total body coordination and hand/eye coordination. Spatial and visual attention shifting demands are increased to improve vision in space for development of the magnocellular pathway. Letter/word identification and spelling are added to whole body activities once foundational skills have emerged. More traditional fine motor activities such as building letters from clay, forming words using plastic letters, and writing in shaving cream may added into OT sessions for children who are struggling with recall and/or visual disorientation. Additional tactile information about letter shape supports visualization and recall while helping to reduce the visual disorientation seen in Surface dyslexia. We work closely with parents and communicate with teachers concerning areas of progress and continued struggle.