Logo Homeschool World ® Official Web Site of Practical Homeschooling Magazine Practical Homeschooling Magazine
Practical Homeschooling® :

Curing Dyslexia

By Sam Blumenfeld
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #98, 2011.

Can dyslexia be cured? Sam Blumenfeld says it can!

   Pin It

Sam Blumenfeld

The recent publication of two outstanding books by neuroscientists have brought new hope to dyslexics that their condition can be cured. The books, The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doige, M.D., and Reading in the Brain by Stanislas Dehaene, director of the Cognitive Neuroimaging Unit in Saclay, France, are available in your library system. Both scientists believe that the brains of dyslexics are plastic enough so that they can be retrained to become normal readers. They have used brain imaging to make their case.

So neuroscience has finally caught up with this writer, whose book The New Illiterates, published way back in the Stone Age of 1973, concluded that any child taught to read exclusively by the sight method would exhibit the symptoms of dyslexia.

I had done a line-by-line analysis of the Dick and Jane reading program and became convinced that a child taught to read by that method could become reading disabled, or dyslexic. I identified the sight vocabulary as “the Thalidomide of primary education,” and advocated a return to intensive phonics as the needed reform in reading pedagogy. At the end of the book I provided the reader with a phonics program, which eventually grew into my Alpha-Phonics reading instruction workbook, which has been used by thousands of homeschoolers to teach their children to read phonetically.

But it is taking the recent work of neuroscientists to finally provide a scientific battering ram to break through the rigid barriers to common sense erected by the professors of education in the hundreds of colleges of education in American as well as in Canadian universities.

Doige writes that scientists have finally demonstrated the neuroplasticity of the brain by showing that activity could produce change in the structure of the brain. Indeed, it is now believed that the brain may be exercised as though it were a muscle, so that reading disabilities are now quite treatable. These new concepts are being applied at the Arrowsmith School in Toronto. He writes:

Accepted students, many of whom were distracted in regular schools, sit quietly working at their computers. Some, diagnosed with attention-deficit as well as learning disabilities, were on Ritalin when they entered the school. As their exercises progress, some can come off medication, because their attention problems were secondary to their underlying reading disorders.

We’ve known that for quite a while that reading failure can cause ADD or ADHD. The frustration of being unable to read often leads to disruptive behavior in the classroom, which is why Ritalin and other such medications are prescribed for the student. Doige writes further:

Competitive plasticity also explains why our bad habits are so difficult to break or “unlearn.” . . . That is why unlearning is often a lot harder than learning, and why early childhood education is so important—it is better to get it right early, before the “bad habit” gets a competitive advantage.

Unfortunately, today’s public schools want to get it wrong as early as possible, which is why they now advocate preschool programs that can begin deforming children’s brains as early as possible. Having tutored many reading disabled children, I can attest to the difficulty many children have of unlearning bad habits. If you want to replace sight reading with phonetic reading, you just have to face this.

Dr. Dehaene writes significantly, “When children learn to read . . . their brains will never be the same again.” He has performed many brain scans and can actually see the difference between a literate brain and a dyslexic one. Phonetic reading is a function of the left hemisphere of the brain where the language faculty is located. But when you force a child to use his right brain via the sight method to exercise the phonetic functions of the left brain, you get brain deformity. Dehaene writes:

The comparison of the dyslexics with their respective control groups reveal a clear anomaly. A whole chunk of the left temporal lobe was insufficiently active . . . the left temporal lobe seems to be systematically disorganized. . . . This decrease in temporal lobe activity was found in adults who had suffered from lifelong reading deficits. But reduced activity can also be seen in young dyslexic children aged from eight to 12 years old.

Dehaene is quite aware of the reading wars that have taken place among educators. He makes it quite clear where he stands in that war. On page 326 he writes:

We now know that the whole-language approach is inefficient: all children regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds benefit from explicit and early teaching of the correspondence between letters and speech sounds. This is a well-established fact, corroborated by a great many classroom experiments. Furthermore, it is coherent with our present understanding of how the reader’s brain works.

I say “Amen” to that!

Was this article helpful to you?
Subscribe to Practical Homeschooling today, and you'll get this quality of information and encouragement five times per year, delivered to your door. To start, click on the link below that describes you:

USA Individual
USA Librarian (purchasing for a library)
Outside USA Individual
Outside USA Library

University of Nebraska High School University of Nebraska High School
Free Email Newsletter!
Sign up to receive our free email newsletter, and up to three special offers from homeschool providers every week.

Articles by Sam Blumenfeld

The Whole-Language Boondoggle

High School for Freedom!

Dyslexia: The Man-Made Disease

Teach Reading to the “Learning Disabled”

Uncle Sam Wants Your Child on his National Database

Why the Internet will Never Replace Books

Teach Reading to the "Learning Disabled"

Homeschooling and Charter Schools

Homeschoolers and Vouchers

The History of Public Education

College At Home

Learning from The "Old Dead Guys"

The Meaning of Educational Freedom

The Importance of Rote Learning

The Exodus Continues

A World Without Public School

The Benefits of Teaching History at Home

How to Tell Real from Phony Phonics?

Getting Started in Arithmetic

Teaching Arithmetic

Teaching the Alphabet

Teaching the Alphabet Sounds

Teaching Blends

Teaching Long Vowels

The History of Geometry Education

Never Bored Again

Learning Greek

How and Why to Teach Shakespeare

How to Get the Most Out of Homeschool Conventions

Forgotten American History: The Barbary Wars

Forgotten American History: God's Providence in the American Revolution

Forgotten American History: The Spanish-American War

Forgotten American History: The Great Awakening

Forgotten American History: Puritan Education

Colonial Education: The Free Market in Action

America Started with Educational Freedom

How Harvard Became Liberal

The Glory of the Alphabet

19th Century Communists & the Origin of American Public Education

The Benefits of Cursive Writing

It Pays to Know Your Legislator

Intelligent by Design

Teaching Kids to Enjoy Classical Music

Before Compulsory Education: The Private Academies

What Schools Teach: Then and Now

The Real Meaning of Easter

The Truth About Independence Day

The Benefits of Reading Biographies

Why We Celebrate Veterans Day

The Purposes of Education

Why Homeschoolers Should be Book Collectors

How History Was Taught Back Then

The American Almanac: A Great Learning Tool

The Fun of Going to an Antiques Auction

Politics and Homeschoolers: A Primer

A Novel Suggestion

Who Wrote Shakespeare?

Why Homeschoolers Should Learn Public Speaking

The Presidency

Party Politics in the United States

The Road to an American Independent Nation

George Washington: Our First President's First Term

George Washington: Our First President's Second Term

Celebrating Flag Day

Going to School Back in the Great Depression

Middle School During the Great Depression

High School During the Depression

Inventions and Progress

On Falling in Love

A Taste of the Old Days

The True Root of American Freedom

Classical Gems on YouTube

Curing Dyslexia

How to Increase Your Vocabulary

The Joy of Journaling

Popular Articles

The Benefits of Debate

Saxon Math: Facts vs. Rumors

University Model Schools

Phonics the Montessori Way

Getting Organized Part 1 - Tips & Tricks

Critical Thinking and Logic

Shakespeare Camp

Don't Give Up on Your Late Bloomers

Myth of the Teenager

Combining Work and Homeschool

Teaching Blends

Laptop Homeschool

Montessori Math

Patriarchy, Meet Matriarchy

The Benefits of Cursive Writing

A Reason for Reading

A Homeschooler Wins the Heisman

The Charlotte Mason Approach to Poetry

Joyce Swann's Homeschool Tips

Columbus and the Flat Earth...

AP Courses At Home

Character Matters for Kids

Interview with John Taylor Gatto

Getting Started in Homeschooling: The First Ten Steps

Who Needs the Prom?

Montessori Language Arts at Home, Part 1

The Gift of a Mentor

Bears in the House

The Equal Sign - Symbol, Name, Meaning

Getting Organized Part 3

Whole-Language Boondoggle

Top Tips for Teaching Toddlers

Start a Nature Notebook

Give Yourself a "CLEP Scholarship"

Narration Beats Tests

The History of Public Education

Why the Internet will Never Replace Books

What We Can Learn from the Homeschooled 2002 National Geography Bee Winners

Art Appreciation the Charlotte Mason Way

How to "Bee" a Spelling Success

What Does My Preschooler Need to Know?

I Was an Accelerated Child

Top Jobs for the College Graduate

Teach Your Children to Work

Can Homeschoolers Participate In Public School Programs?

Advanced Math: Trig, PreCalc, and more!

How to Win the Geography Bee

Classical Education

The Charlotte Mason Method

Discover Your Child's Learning Style

Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
Copyright ©1993-2021 Home Life, Inc.