The new reading solution for a 'visual' child : From Oxford Learning Solutions

“Highly effective and deceptively simple, the Easyread System succeeds in making learning to read fun.”
Rebecca Abrams
Daily Telegraph
Families Columnist

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Easyread: A new attitude from Day 1, substantial progress in 3-4 weeks

Optilexia or
Auditory Deficit of the Visual Learner


This is the big one. Most visual learners find learning to read very hard and around 80% of children "diagnosed" as dyslexic are in fact visual learners who have not grasped phonics.

The reason is that they start by learning the alphabet visually. They then learn some simple words visually.

They then look at an "early reader book" and look at the picture (more visual cues) and try to read the text visually, guessing the words that they don't know. Any phonics they do at school will make little sense to them and will be ignored as irrelevant.

You can actually see this on an MRI scan as they read. The auditory cortex is not engaged at all.

We call this Optilexia, because the child is reading through pure sight recognition of whole words rather than auditory decoding.

This situation can seem to be OK until the text gets too complex for this approach. At that stage you will see more and more wild guessing. Eventually the child's confidence will collapse between the ages of 6 and 9.

The Solution

The solution to this is to give the child the tools to engage with the phonic structure of each word and then force the engagement of the auditory cortex.

Easyread has been developed as a solution for exactly this situation, so I will give examples from Easyread as to how it can be solved for the child.

First, we take the visual strength of the child and use it to help guide the child towards proper phonic decoding of the text using our TrainerText system. This allows the child to access the phonemes within each word and then blend it successfully, without needing outside help.

Second, we create games that can be easily won if the words are decoded in this way, but are impossible if the child tries to use the familiar strategies of sight-memorising and guessing.

An example of that is our Mushroom Picker game. We read out a word. A series of words then appear on the screen and the child has to decide whether each one is the correct word (and therefore a mushroom) or a similar but different word (and thus a toadstool).

So, in some ways we are making the task easier, because the word has been read out. But in other ways it is far harder because the different words that appear are all very similar visually. So the child has to use the TrainerText to decode each one and confirm it is the same or different.

As they practise the new approach day by day, it slowly becomes more natural to them. Like any skill, it takes regular practice to see the change and seems harder when you first change technique. But eventually the new approach leads to far higher confidence and speed.

Because the child is now engaged with the internal structure of the text, we usually see a marked improvement in spelling, although this will lag behind the reading proficiency.

Make The Switch Early

The longer that a set of neurone connections are used in the brain, the harder it is to switch them to something new. We are radically rewiring the reading process for the child, switching the linkage from:

Eyes - Visual Cortex - Prefrontal Cortex - Language Cortex

to almost the reverse:

Eyes - Visual Cortex - Auditory Cortex - Language Cortex - Prefrontal Cortex

The longer a child spends using the former process, the harder it is to change. We find that the 6-9 age group are normally fine. Beyond that one has to be more and more rigorous about preventing them from using their old strategy.




Use Easyread for Reading Help and Spelling Help


Easyread is a reading system designed for visual learners. It uses a short daily lesson online to teach a child to read over 2-6 months. It has proved highly effective with the most common form of dyslexia (auditory deficit syndrome). It is based on synthetic phonics.

We can also give advice on other foms of dyslexia such as Irlen Syndrome and Dyspraxia.

Getting children to read is our passion. Don't hesitate to call us with any question. But before you do, take the time to have a look around the site. There is a lot of information on literacy, dyslexia, the causes of dyslexia and ways to help with each type of dyslexia.

You can also check our blog to hear the latest literacy news.

Copyright Oxford Learning Solutions Ltd 2008.