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[Susan notes: There's lots of useful information in this letter.]

Submitted to Philadelphia Inquirer but not published
03/06/2004

To the editor



While "Dyslexia talks draw hundreds" (news. Mar. 4)another leading researcher has suggested that no more than 1 or 2 percent of those with reading difficulties have an inborn "wiring" problem.



That is, we apparently produce 98 percent of

the so-called dyslexics by putting bored and/or

frightened children on-the-spot with flash cards

and/or dumb beginning readers, and by then having

them read out loud in school. That is, with the best of intentions we use Teach'em-Test'em, a counter-productive, high-anxiety paradigm imported from Prussia in 1845.



Fear, inhibition, resistance, anger, ineffective learning and/or brain changes due to stress-induced chemicals appear to be the end result.



The solution: -- Parents should keep the TV set downstairs, use it much less, and watch WITH their children. They should also subscribe to a newspaper and sometimes read a book.



Beginning at age two, or whenever, they should read many GOOD stories out loud and let their child watch what they're doing for as long as they're interested.



After that most children will sort of memorize the story and then start saying the words WITH us or right after us. And in the good old days, before Sesame Street arrived, I've been told that

many were good beginning readers by age 5.



But at any age they can quickly teach themselves if we set up a choral-reading approach a.k.a. reading-in-unison; i.e. read together either one-on-one or in groups of four while avoiding like the plague having them STRUGGLE alone for even a few seconds.



This is a remarkably-effective technique with

both children and adults. But 98 percent of the

latter have eventually taught themselves to

read just well enough to sort of get by.



We also, however, have millions of grownups who show phonic-binding. That is, they're so busy decoding that they lose the flow, the meaning, and the pleasure.

Robert E. Kay, MD, psychiatrist


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