Dybuster‘s software Orthograph was developed in collaboration with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. The principles behind the software came from neuroscience and computer science. An important part of the development process was rigorous user testing: how well did the software actually work? Did Orthograph really help dyslexics improve their spelling and reading?
First case study
The first study on Dybuster software was published in 2007. Eighty children between the ages of nine and eleven took part in the study, which was led by neuropsychologists Prof. Dr. Lutz Jäncke and Prof. M. Meyer. The participants included both children with dyslexia and children without.
Multi-sensory learning helps students approach a subject like spelling or maths through the use of different senses. When playing the Colour Game in Orthograph, Dybuster’s software for children with dyslexia, students associate letters with colours and also with sound. This activates new learning channels in the brain and helps children to map spoken sound to written letters, something that is difficult for dyslexics.
The video below shows the game in action and provides a voice-over guide. You can test the game yourself for free by visiting the Orthograph Trial page. No download is necessary; you can access the program in your browser.
Dybuster software is designed to allow children to practice reading and math independently. Orthograph and Calcularis guide the user through a series of learning games that increase with difficulty according to a child’s progress and learning needs. The software has been shown to help children with dyslexia and dyscalculia improve their spelling and math skills.
However the software is not designed to replace teachers or therapists. Teachers and parents are the most important guides of a child’s learning path. To give those guides the best possible overview of a student’s progress, we include Dybuster Coach with every school and home license of our software.
Both Orthograph Coach and Calcularis Coach give parents access to in-depth feedback on how often their child has used the software and how long each session has lasted. Reports include which words or math problems have been practiced and which ones still pose difficulties. Statistics predict error probabilities. The Modules feature in Orthograph Coach allows parents to create lists of words tailored to their child’s practice needs.
Teachers and specialists can use the analytics in Dybuster Coach to track an entire classroom’s progress, compare how different students are doing, and create individual reports. They have an immediate overview as to which students are developing what skills, as well as information on length and frequency of the practice sessions. This detailed feedback can then be used to supplement a teacher’s other instruction or to aid in a dyslexia or dyscalculia intervention program.
Plenty of dyslexics can empathise with reading anxiety or a phobia related to reading. This anxiety is marked by a student’s avoidance of reading, feelings of dread when asked to read, and general disbelief in her or his own ability to read.
Though dyscalculia is less well-known than dyslexia, there are significantly more articles and research available on math anxiety as compared to reading anxiety (see our article on math anxiety). A quick Google search for math anxiety will turn up plenty of hits, while the results for a similar search for reading anxiety veer off into anxiety conditions in general. (Scroll down to read more.)
Different factors could affect the onset of reading anxiety. As children are expected to attain literacy skills at ever younger ages and ever earlier points in their educational careers, pressure on both students and teachers mounts. A child who is developmentally simply not ready to read may be made to feel inadequate when he or she cannot meet reading requirements that would pose no problem in another year’s time.
There is also no doubt that learning disabilities such as dyslexia can result in a child having a fear of reading and of letters, especially if there is a lack of diagnosis and intervention. How sad that children come to associate books with fear and shame, instead of exploration, imagination, and learning.
Last week we featured 18 year old Robert Lawrence and his fund-raising run for dyslexia. This got us thinking that some ddd readers interested in volunteering for dyslexics might like to be pointed towards a few possibilities.
If you are a parent of a dyslexic and based in the United States, the first website you might want to stop off at is DecodingDyslexia.net. This is the mother site of the organisation and introduces you to a grassroots movement pushing for more educational intervention in the public school system. Led by parents, the movement is represented in all fifty states and each state has either an own website or social media presence or both. Contact the representative in your state to find out how to get involved.
For college and high school students who themselves have dyslexia or another learning disability, have a look at the Eye to Eye mentoring program. This organisation matches mentors with young students in an art program, designed to provide mentees with both role models and a means of self-expression. To participate you do need to be enrolled at a school with a chapter of the program (full list available here) but should that not be the case and you are sufficiently determined then you can talk with Eye to Eye about opening a chapter at your school.
These are a few of our suggestions but you can come up with your own ways to help, just like Robert did with running. Open up your heart, your mind, and your time, and you can make a difference.