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Children with Dyslexia Read Better with Free App

Children with dyslexia read better with free app

Parents who have children with dyslexia know the frustration they and their kids feel as they face the challenge of reading. Now a French-Italian research team have discovered a simple way to help children with dyslexia read 20% faster and make much fewer errors, and you can try it with a free app.

You can help your child with dyslexia

Dyslexia is a learning disability that can interfere with an individual's ability to read, spell, write, and even speak in some cases. Dyslexia is the most common learning disability among children, and it continues throughout adulthood.

The severity of dyslexia can range from mild to severe, yet it can be treated, and the sooner the better. Typical warning signs of dyslexia include

  • Letter and number reversals. Although this is common in younger children, after age 7 or 8 it usually disappears. If it does not, children should be tested for dyslexia
  • Difficulty copying from a book, computer screen, or board
  • Difficulty distinguishing left from right
  • Written work is generally disorganized
  • May have difficulty moving to the rhythm of music

The research team, headed by Johannes Ziegler of the Laboratoire de Psychologie Cognitive, discovered that increasing the amount of spacing between characters and words can improve how fast and how accurately dyslexic children read, and without any prior training.

What parents may appreciate even more is that these researchers also developed an iPad/iPhone application, which is available free of charge, that allows parents and dyslexic children to change the spacing between letters and test if this new approach to reading works for them.

What the dyslexia study revealed
The researchers came upon their finding by testing 94 children with dyslexia, ages 8 to 14 years, and their ability to read. The 54 Italian and 40 French children read 24 sentences with normal spaces and then wider than normal spacing.

When the children read the text with wider spacing, their reading speed was an average of 20% faster and they made half as many errors. This finding opens up great possibilities for children with dyslexia, for whom it typically takes one year to read what a "normal reader" can read in two days.

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A free app for dyslexia may help

Parents can get the free app for dyslexia here. The free app is currently available in French and English, downloadable from Apple Store, and allows parents and children to alter the spacing between letters.

Children with dyslexia have an impairment in their brain's ability to convert images into language they can understand. However, this difficulty is not related to vision or hearing problems, nor is it caused by mental retardation or a lack of intelligence.

In fact, many highly successful and creative people had or have dyslexia. Some of them include Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Tom Cruise, Cher, Richard Branson, and Winston Churchill.

The authors of this new study report that "our findings offer a practical way to ameliorate dyslexics' reading achievement without any training." They note that "extra large letter spacing, which could even be optimized adaptively on an individual basis, can certainly contribute to achieving this goal."

Children with dyslexia can become easily discouraged by their difficulty in learning to read, and this can lead to development of low self-esteem, depression, behavior problems, and a dislike for school. A free app for children with dyslexia could be a new beginning for this population of young people.

Zorzi M et al. Extra-large letter spacing improves reading in dyslexia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2012. doi:10.1073/pnas.1205566109

Image: PhotosPublicDomain