Dyslexics are arguably some of the most misunderstood people. Despite their innate reading and writing difficulties, they can be as talented and productive as anyone, if not more. In short, dyslexia can affect a person’s reading and writing skills, but that does not affect how smart they really are.
According to the Australian Dyslexia Association, roughly 10% of the Aussie population (1 in 5 Australians) is dyslexic. At a glance, people suffering from dyslexia might seem slow as they try to sluggishly process what they read.
In this regard, experts are studying how the speed of their reaction to what they read determines a correlation between processing speed and dyslexia.
What is processing speed?
Processing speed refers to the time it takes for a person to understand, react, and complete a task based on the information they receive, be it visual, auditory, or kinetic. Thus, the higher one’s processing speed is, the more they are able to think and learn.
Processing speed is measured by the reading reaction rate. The hypothesis is that those with dyslexia will have a slower processing speed than most regular readers. However, although a reading fluency deficit is persistent in dyslexic children, it is known that they manage to learn reading and spelling if given excellent instruction and support.
It should not be misconstrued that people with slower processing speeds are not smart. It simply implies that people with slower processing speeds take more time to process information.
How reading rate accuracy affects dyslexia evaluation
The diagnosis of dyslexia in children can be very challenging. While there are several tell-tale signs that a child might be dyslexic, the best way to verify it is to have the child undergo a series of tests that would help screen and evaluate their learning abilities.
Accurately assessing a child’s reading rate is important because it reduces the condition’s negative impact on the learning process, as well as on the child’s personal development. Note that having a slower reading reaction rate is very different from having slow decision-making skills. Studies show that despite dyslexic students’ slow reading rates, they are more apt at tasks that involve situational awareness and problem-solving.
A dyslexic student has a slower processing speed compared to everyone else because the student lacks phonological awareness. It may also be that they have difficulty in differentiating numbers from letters.
Dyslexics are known to have trouble completing visual tests, especially in terms of matching identical numbers from a batch of visual look-alikes (e.g. 113, 311, 313, 131, etc.).
Screening for Dyslexia
For children under seven years of age, a comprehensive cognitive assessment is a good starting point. Screening tests usually involve the Predictive Assessment of Reading (PAR), Texas Primary Reading Inventory (TPRI), and Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS).
These tests were developed to find students who are at risk of suffering from dyslexia. On the other hand, the Summative Literacy Performance Reports (Sliper) offer efficient and objective literacy performance measurements.
Understanding the significance of reading reaction rates and processing speeds in evaluating dyslexia cannot be exaggerated. Those who have been accurately assessed have a higher chance of improving as they get older.