Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Multiple Deficit Theory of Dyslexia

Try as I might I haven't been able to make popular the idea of dyslexia as a syndrome. Syndrome being a term that has major essential aspects which all people must have to be considered having the dyslexia syndrome after proper reading instruction. Poor reading skills ,lack of fluency,slow inaccurate reading and poor comprehension seem to be common to all dyslexics and could be considered major essential parts. A dyslexia syndrome also has minor aspects that may or may not affect the individual and usually make up a laundry list of symptoms.

reading below grade level
trouble rhyming words
oral word confusion
short term memory problems
poor spelling
Bothered by glare on print
see text in motion
left and right confusion
auditory problems
poor phonemic understanding
reversing letters in words
writing letters backward after third grade
slow naming of pictures
delayed speech

and many more minor essentials would usually be included in the list. Most of you reading this have seen similar lists. If anyone wants to comment and have other minor essentials added to the list I will, but that is not the point of this post.

Failing to make the dyslexia syndrome popular as a way of understanding why dyslexics are different from each other and need interventions based on their individual problems, like a thief in the night, I am going to steal new terminology, modify it, and hopefully come up with terminology that the public can use to discuss the subject of dyslexia in a more comprehensive way .

My opinion is the the issue of dyslexia needs a paradigm shift , A paradigm is a system of belief
based on an individuals personal knowledge and assumptions. It is a way of looking at situations. Your personal paradigm about particular issues actually colors your opinions and behaviors.

I am sure I need to have an example of a paradigm shift to show how changing a paradigm can be powerful. Many people have the paradigm that the homeless are lazy,dirty ,thieving,drug addicted alcoholics that wouldn't work even if they had the chance and so helping them is futile .

A different paradigm might include different facts such as a large % of the homeless are veterans who suffered post traumatic stress syndrome from being exposed to horrors in war defending or country, others are hard working family people who have lost their jobs through layoffs, and some are single mother families with children who are on the street because of financial hardships that they had no control over. We can also expect a large increase in homeless from people that we actually know due to the financial depression we are having in our country. Many people are only a paycheck or medical problem away from being homeless. The conclusion from this paradigm is that many homeless are not that different from us and so are deserving of help and that with help they may indeed recover and leave the homeless population.

The second paradigm does not exclude that the first paradigm is partly true. There are indeed some homeless that will always be homeless for different reasons. The second paradigm does try to expand our thoughts and can change people's behavior to some degree. Perhaps they might consider voting for rather than against some homeless laws to protect the homeless. If nothing else, having more information is likely to help people make better informed decision about the homeless.

Back to dyslexia. I have posted before about how people tend to report about dyslexia as if it has a single cause. I propose that we now call that the Single Deficit Theory. The SDT (single deficit theory ) has been pretty common to describe dyslexia and some ore used to base SDT interventions.

The Dore Method SDT dyslexia is based on brain structure problems that can be helped by exercise programs .

Ron Davis Method SDT dyslexia is based on the fact that dyslexics think in pictures.

Irlen method SDT dyslexia reading problems are based by their sensitivity to a single color

Timing problems in the brain SDT dyslexia problems are caused by slow processing in the brain

Phonoogicial problems SDT dyslexics have problems associating sounds with letters

Auditory processing problems SDT problems differentiating individual sounds

Language processing problems SDT problems in the word formation part of the brain

Executive processing problems SDT problems sequencing thoughts

Short Term Memory Problems SDT problems with short time memory as the cause of dyslexia

MRI areas of the brain SDT every area of the brain associated with reading visual,auditory,phonemic,language processing,word formation etc has each has its day as the SDT of dyslexia

See Right Dyslexia Glasses SDT for the 10% of dyslexics that can describe specific visual problems that make reading difficult.

There are many more SDT's about dyslexia. The obvious lack in all is they have is that none account for all the different problems that dyslexics express as why individuals with dyslexia have problems reading fluently with good comprehension.

I read a post the other day about the concept of the Double Deficit Theory of dyslexia. The position was that while the author used to believe in the SDT of phonological problems she saw dyslexics that had no phonological problems still having reading difficulties She thought by adding delayed time processing problems and calling that the DDT she could now describe all dyslexics as having phonological and or delayed processing problems.

I see the DDT as still lacking as a final description of what problems all individual dyslexics have.

My first thought was that be DDT lacked any acknowledgement that some dyslexics have visual problems that make reading difficult and there needed to be at least a Triple Deficit Theory or TDT. My second thought, seconds later, was that it was unlikely that even a TDT was going to be able to accurately describe dyslexia.

This is why I am proposing the paradigm shift to the Multiple Deficit Theory of dyslexia or MDT. The value of the paradigm shift to include MDT rather than DDT or SDT is this. If you are looking for dyslexia help and the person you see believes in a SDT , say phonological problems,
then your are tested for phonological problems and any positive results for phonological problems are defined as being your dyslexia problems and any intervention is based on helping you overcome those phonological problems only. No other dyslexia problerms are looked for ,evaluated or have interventions available at that location.

On the other hand if someone believes in the MDT of dyslexia then while phonological problems will probably be evaluated and intervention recommended that will not be the end of the process. Perhaps auditory processing will be evaluated next and intervention recommended if needed. Perhaps executive decision making and short term memory evaluations would follow with recommendations that interventions would or would not be needed in those areas. To be complete I would recommend visual testing for visual dyslexia and if problems are found that See Right Dyslexia Glasses are considered if necessary.

If you are out in the woods and want to have a fire and only consider that fires are made from big logs, when you return with only big logs you are going to have trouble making that fire. Call that Single Object Fire. Double Object Fire might include matches also. A Multiple Object Fire might also include an ax, dry grass, fire pit, rocks for fire pit, pine cones, bucket of water, cell phone, small dry branches, chairs, cooler with drinks,book to read, snacks, friends, music, permit or other objects as well. Few people will need all the Multiple Objects to make their fire just as most dyslexics only need help with a few different problems but only by considering that their problems need to be identified from an all inclusive list rather than than an SDT or DDT to start their reading fire.


Xenia said...

hi is it ok if I put a link of ur blog in my blog?thx;)

John Hayes said...

Hi Xenia ,

Always glad to have others link to my blog,