“Slow down. Sound it out.”
This is the mantra for most dyslexic students learning to read. But results from a new computer training program suggest that the opposite may be true for dyslexics once they’ve learned to read—going faster could improve reading skills and comprehension.
Researchers in Israel compared the reading skills of dyslexic and non-dyslexic university students, before and after using a custom computer training program. The program’s premise is this: a sentence appears on the computer screen, which the participant is supposed to read silently. One by one, the letters disappear off the screen, from left to right, pushing the reader through the sentence. When the entire sentence has been removed from the screen, the user is prompted with a question about the content of the sentence he or she just read. This ensures that the participant did not just read the sentence, but actually understood what it meant.
First, there is only a blur of shifting gray fragments. Shapes that look like they’ve been scissored out by a hyperactive two-year old spiral around the screen. Then, pieces start to fall into place. There’s something there: an eye, a crook of a mouth, a sea captain’s hat, a beard…a pair of full lips, no, a chin…