The development of speech in children is an important stage of human development as it indicates mental growth and awareness. Phonological awareness is an essential perspective in the learning process of a child. Difficulties with the early learning of the phonemes predict a problem with the learning process and development. Phonological awareness has the element of detection and manipulation of sounds through the structures of sound such as syllables, phonemes, onsets, and rimes (Keilmann & Wintermeyer, 2008). Children’s awareness of such sounds remains demonstrated through different tasks performed on sounds for clarity and verification. The functions include the identification, comparison, separation, combination, and generation of sounds and sentence structures (Snowling & Hulme, 2012). The awareness of phonology is important in listening and speaking instances where individuals focus on manipulating sounds to derive meanings in words. With forty-four English phonemes, the combinations of letters sum up to represent the sounds that bring out the meanings.
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Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear and manipulate the sounds. Before learning how to read, people have to become aware of how the sound works. The paper will discuss the correlations among the most important factors that interfere with proper reading comprehension in school-age children.
Dyslexia is a learning disability that affects reading and related language-based processing skills (LDA, n.d.). Dyslexia and reading language impairment have been studied and determined as the most common forms of learning impairment (Handler, 2016). Dyslexia is widespread among children and exhibited when they participate in the complex task of reading with the impediment of poorly developed language skills. The paper examines the components of these two previously mentioned language-processing disorders together with executive functions (meta-cognition, planning, self-control, and self-regulation of thinking processes and working memory), which are of critical import to the development of linguistic abilities.
Doctors associate dyslexia with the reading disorder. If severe, dyslexia can affect the speaking and writing abilities of a student (LD Online, 2008). However, those suffering from dyslexia conditions still have the potential to understand ideas deemed as complex. Their disadvantaged position comes from the fact that they may need more time to work through the information provided as compared to their fellow students. Their processing way is different from the average student. Different information processing ways may include listening to audio books instead of the usual reading methods (Agus, Carrión-Castillo, Pressnitzer, & Ramus, 2015). Dyslexia represents the most common learning disability, as 80% of people with learning disabilities are dyslexic (Al-Mahrezi, Al-Futaisi, & Al-Mamari, 2016). The conditions for dyslexia are standard, and those suffering from the disease are of a significant population size.
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Causes of Dyslexia
Existing research at present is yet to point out the real causes of the condition with different studies looking at the genetic and hereditary factors, brain anatomy, and brain activity.
Genes and Genetic Inheritance
There is enough logic to ascertain that dyslexia runs in the family bloodlines. Different cases of dyslexia have proved that hereditary relations link to the condition. The results stand explained by the different studies that point towards the high percentage of the siblings’ reading difficulties.
The condition of dyslexia does not suggest in any way that a child is not bright. Research reports that most of the dyslexic people are above average at their intelligence level. However, their brain may seem different from the brains of those who are normal. A good example is the plenum temporal area of the brain that plays the role of understanding language. The area is typically larger in the dominant hemisphere (for right-handed individuals). Those with dyslexic conditions have the plenum temporale of the same size both at the right and left sides of the brain (Key-DeLyria & Altmann, 2016).
The ability to read is in the capacity of the brain to translate the symbols on the pages to sound. The phonemes, therefore, have to exist in the form that can be translated into meaningful sounds. Certain brain areas are responsible for the translation of symbols into the sounds of words. These areas of the brain that control language skills work in a predictable manner. However, the same is never the case for dyslexic patients.
Neurobiology of Senses and Dyslexia
The neurobiology of the senses has shown excellent correlation with the structure and functionalities of the left posterior perisylvian brain parts. The particular elements include the neuroimaging studies that reveal the relationship of the underactivation of the occipitotemporal and temporoparietal regions (Goldstein & Obrzut, 2001). The relations stand compared to the over-activation of the homologous right brain sphere that helps with the development of learners (Clark et al., 2014).
There have been different studies showing the various reading and comprehension disorders. However, most of them define dyslexia as the regular reading and comprehension disorder. The existence of the various conditions indicates that about 10 percent of learners exhibit adequate levels of word recognition and decoding while nonetheless struggling with comprehension of the written words (the Specific Reading Comprehension Deficits). The disorder, S-RCD, as commonly referred, is a critical deficiency observed in students who have already moved from learning to reading or decoding of the learned words. The stage of its effect is when the students can learn from the informational texts, and it is at this point that the disorder emerges and destabilizes the growth of their comprehension. Studies show that the comprehension disorders are characteristic of patients exhibiting less sensitivity to semantic information as evidenced by the impairment on semantic priming tasks, but comparable to the judgmental tasks of the phonological and the orthographic representation. The dyslexic conditions have suggested that the S-RCD have no direct recognition with the word acknowledgment of the neural system.
The studies on genome association fail to implicate the genes that exist associated with dyslexia. The studies, however, support the fact that the genes are all involved in the regulation of the ability to learn how to read and write while causing the compromise that exists in the gene functionality. The combined high genetic effects fail to explain the genetic background of the dyslectic disorder. The genes combine the existing mechanisms that portray the mild end of the spectrum development and their disturbances in neuro positioning and connectivity.
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Factors Affecting Reading Comprehension
The understanding of what is read is known as comprehension. Learners have to be in a position to comprehend what they read. The awareness basics institute that learners should be in a position to internalize what they read. It is from the understanding that the learners can relate to what they know. The reading enables them to connect and make sense out of the information, which they are reading. They connect what they read with new understanding.
The factors that influence the comprehension process include ways in which the reading processes take place, the traits of the reader, and the text properties. The factors are inclusive of the challenges the academic language presents to the learner and the strategies teachers can employ to help the students comfortably read and comprehend.
Understanding the Context
Context allows one to relate to where, how, and why the reading took place. Context analysis has two modes of analyzing the context of comprehension. Where the reading occurs; it is imperative to have the learners think about where there preferably like to have their interpretation. The areas vary depending on one’s liking. Different places impact comprehension differently. Mostly, the crowded and noisy places impair the understanding of students. The social context; at times, the readers are asked to read independently or in groups. Studies show that students mostly have a better understanding when they read in groups, and the content is read aloud than when reading for themselves.
The Reader’s Characteristics
Different students have different abilities as tied to their capacity to concentrate. Some students have the potential to focus and understand the information while other students get squirmy during such discussions.
The urge to succeed makes some students perform better than others. The self-motivation at the personal level makes the best of performers outdo their competitors. The standard of motivation and engagement makes a difference when it comes to listening to instructions and following through with one’s work (Catts, Nielsen, Bridges, & Liu, 2016).
The Text Features
The content and the quality of the text contribute to the ability of the learners to understand the substance of the book. Development of students is such that the less complicated the text is, the easier the understanding will be. To understand the different aspects of the text, students have to participate in the reading. The less organized a text is, the more students struggle to comprehend its content.
Essential Reading Skills for Comprehension
The struggle students with reading difficulties (Dyslexia) have makes it hard for them to understand and remember what they read. The reading comprehension tasks in schools form the basis for further success. The problems these students face undermine their abilities and desire to participate in developing their underlying skills wholly (Van Viersen, 2016).
The Connection of Letters to Sound
The recognition of words by sight occurs when learners can read the phrases by glancing at them. The ability is referred to as the ‘word recognition’; the more students can recognize the words by sight, the faster they can read (Christmann, Lachmann, & Steinbrink, 2015). When grading these skills, average students identify a word by its sight. Those who have dyslexia need to see the name sometimes.
Those learners who are able to read fluently are able to recognize the words by sight and have a quick way of making the sounds. Their reading is smooth and at a controlled pace. In reading, fluency is essential for reading comprehension (Cutting, Materek, Cole, Levine, & Mahone, 2009).
Understanding the Text
The internalization of the text makes it possible for readers with a higher capacity of understanding to remember almost all they read. Those of the readers with dyslexic conditions are often bogged-down when sounding out certain words (Picton, 2013). The reiterated word in the form of broken spelling and fluency makes it difficult to understand and relate to the material they are reading.
The Challenges of the Academic Language
The content areas of the learning process at times expose learners to words they are not used to in their studies. The new words can prove challenging to the learners. The struggle is in three levels, namely phrases, sentences, and discourse (Carretti, Motta, & Re, 2016).
The phrases present challenges to learners at the phrase level of academic language. The vocabularies prove challenging in that most learners relate better with those phrases that they learn within their class sessions than those they encounter in real life situations.
At the sentence level, students encounter mostly the challenges related to grammar with regard to understanding how the sentences form. The exposure to different sentence structures makes learners compare and contrast the differences.
At the discourse level, students have to make sense of the content and the meaning of overall structures and genres. Learners, in this case, have to understand how to organize their content into a context that is approved by the text format.
Executive Function Issues
The brain’s executive function resembles the managing unit of the brain. It takes charge of making sure that things are done right from the planning stage to the execution stage. Problems with executive functioning make children have a challenge with all the issues that involve memory planning, organization, time management, and flexibility in thinking.
The issues with the functioning of the executive areas of the brain are not considered as disabilities but as weaknesses of the brain. They mostly appear in children with learning and attention issues. The executive function problems, therefore, refer to the mental abilities that enable the brain to plan, organize, prioritize, remember, and pay attention to things when a person is engaged in either a conversation or reading comprehension (Park, Badzakova-Trajkov, & Waldie, 2012). The functions involve people using the experiences and the information from the experiences in solving their problems (Schultz, Simpson, & Lynch, 2012). The functions are important in ensuring that children are able to multitask and analyze the ideas they are provided with. The executive function issues are caused by different influences and factors. These factors include heredity, genetics, brain differences, and other disabilities.
Heredity and Genes
The intelligence genetic conditions are common in family relations causing the issues associated with genetic inheritance. The different family lineages make it possible for spouses to contribute to their children’s executive function problems.
Executive function is controlled by the prefrontal cortex part of the brain. People with brain injuries at the prefrontal cortex or the ones diagnosed with mental disorders may experience difficulties with the normal operation of the executive function. Children suffering from disorders such as the dyslexia struggle with executive function issues (Pennala et al., 2013). The same conditions are observed in children who have neural conditions, mood disorders, autism, and injuries to the brain.
Skills Affected by the Executive Function Issues
Like other cases of disorders, children suffering from issues with executive functions struggle with skills such as the following.
The ability of children to stop and think things straight before acting can be a symptom that indicates the issues of executive functioning. Children suffering from the executive functioning issues are the risk of doing unsafe things since they may have no regard for the consequences of their actions. At times, they quit a chore without completing it (Gooch, Thompson, Nash, Snowling, & Hulme, 2016).
The children with the condition fail to manage emotions while focusing on the result of their actions. Children suffering from executive issues have difficulties in accepting negative feedback (Calcus, Lorenzi, Collet, Colin, & Kolinsky, 2016). Their situations make them overreact to injustices and struggle to finish tasks when issues upset them.
The executive issues interfere with the child’s ability to come up with new strategies that can flexibly solve a different problem. The children become unable to strategize and find solutions hence getting frustrated in the process (Horowitz-Kraus, 2014). The difficulty in changing the course of their thinking is a result of the executive functions failures.
Working Memory and Self-Monitoring
The working memory is the ability of children to hold information in their mind while applying the same information in performing tasks. The memory abilities differ, and those children with weaker memory abilities do have trouble with multitasking since they struggle to recall directions and instructions. The self-monitoring aspect is the ability of children to keep track of and evaluate their performance over time (Asbjørnsen, Obrzut, Eikeland, & Manger, 2010). When children have difficulties with evaluating themselves, they may lack self-awareness.
Phonological awareness and decoding of language promote successful reading skills with the accurate use of appropriate linguistic structures in sentences and phrases. However, disorders such as dyslexia, injuries, and mental ailments jeopardize the ability of learners to perform when faced with these issues. Early diagnosis of phonological challenges in children is important in ensuring that they receive the best support to enable them to develop their linguistic abilities.