study Archives - Lexercise

Dyslexia and Dysgraphia are Different


Dyslexia and DysgraphiaPublic schools in the United States are treating students with dyslexia and dysgraphia the same, when they aren’t and shouldn’t be. New research out of the University of Washington proves this. The Federal Special Education Law labels both under one category, but they are significantly different and need varied forms of instruction.

The research headed by Todd Richards, a UW radiologist, consisted of scanning the brains of 40 children in grades 4-9 who were diagnosed with dyslexia, dysgraphia or were not diagnosed with any learning disability. They observed the children’s brain activity while completing tasks such as filling in a missing letter in a word or planning a composition about space travel they would write later.

They found that the three categories of children differed in how efficient messages traveled between nerve cells in their brains. The children who are developing at a normal rate used fewer highways, meaning their processing is more efficient.

The children with dyslexia and dysgraphia show the opposite, they have more detours and highways, meaning their brains have to work harder. Though their patterns were similar, the dyslexic and dysgraphic children’s patterns look distinctly different from each other.

The researchers concluded that the two are neurologically distinct disabilities and according to Virginia Berninger, an educational psychologist, it is vital that kids receive a proper diagnosis and specialized instruction tailored to them.

teacher with kids in white shirtsLexercise begins therapy with a Language Processing Assessment to reveal the root cause of a child’s difficulties, their strengths and weaknesses and allows our therapist to completely customize a child’s treatment. Lexercise therapists are trained to treat specific disorders, including both dyslexia and dysgraphia and separate methods for these separate disorders:

  • For dyslexia -Lexercise Structured Literacy Curriculum©
  • For dysgraphia – Lexercise Chancery Script Curriculum©

If you think your child may have a learning disability screen them for free here >>>

Government Says R-t-I Doesn’t Work

RTIgovernment-funded research study released this month shows that public schools providing “intense reading intervention services” in a Response-to-Intervention (R-t-I) model often fail to improve student reading skills.  In fact, this research suggests that, for some groups of students, the school intervention actually had a negative impact on broad reading skills. The researchers concluded that the interventions the schools are using might not be appropriate for some students. (Balu, R., et al.,  2015)

The data from the Institute of Education Sciences and the Institute for Educational Statistics have long called in the question the effectiveness of public school R-t-I services for struggling readers, so this is really nothing new.  

Lexercise uses an analogy for how this kind of failure might occur. The 3-legged stool illustrates that intervention must have three strong components all working together or intervention is likely to be ineffective (and stool falls over).   

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    • What was the intervention method?  The government-funded research provides no clear description of the intervention curricula. It says it was “small group instruction”, but that’s a feature of the setting in which intervention occurs and not an intervention methodology.


    • Were the educators experts in language structure?  There is no description of the competency of those who provided the intervention.


    • Was there customized, daily practice for each student? We are not talking about seat-time here but how many response challenges each student got per day and his or her response to this practice.  There is no description of that.


Balu, Rekha, Pei Zhu, Fred Doolittle, Ellen Schiller, Joseph Jenkins, and Russell Gersten (2015). Evaluation of Response to Intervention Practices for Elementary School Reading (NCEE 2016-4000). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.

Will Your Child’s Reading Affect Their Prosperity?

kids hands showing coinsAnnie E. Casey’s Kids Count annual report was released last week. Among other things, the report looks at reading proficiency in fourth graders. This report found “an alarming 66 percent of fourth-graders in public school were reading below the proficient level in 2013”, with wide variation in public school students’ reading proficiency from state to state.

Americans are swamped with data about education, health, and well-being, so it is easy to ignore. Why should parents care that two-thirds of 4th-grade public school students in the USA don’t read proficiently? Does this really mean anything for their child’s future? It could be because proficient reading is a very big part of the ticket to adult prosperity.

Research released in 2012 by the Brookings Institution suggests a connection between prosperity and reading. Children whose “benchmarks for success”, including reading skills, are “off track” in elementary school have a much lower chance of earning at least middle-class income by the time they reach middle age. put it this way: “Fourth grade is considered a crucial benchmark for reading because by that age kids are mostly done with formal reading instruction and have moved on to using their reading skills to master other subjects. But if two-thirds of American kids are lacking in such skills, they are unlikely ever to catch up.”

The Brookings Institution suggests there is a role for both public and private responsibilities in helping children reach middle-class prosperity. Parents are used to thinking of reading as the school’s job. But, given the situation described above, parents may want to exercise some “private responsibility” if their child continues to struggle with reading.

According to Planet Money, families in the USA spend about 5% of their income on entertainment and 1.5% on education. Flipping those priorities for just a few months to fund a semester of structured literacy intervention could make all the difference in a child’s chances of prosperity.

Research Backs Structured Literacy

Latest Research Shows How the Brain Learns Reading

file4501243625430The latest study in brain research gives greater understanding to how the brain responds to reading instruction. Stanford University Professor Bruce McCandliss and other colleagues from Texas and New York, used two different approaches to teach subjects a pretend language, simulating how a beginning reader would encounter novel words. The first instructional approach tried in this study was similar to the Structured Literacy method of instruction based on sound-letter patterns, the second was memorization, similar to the Whole Language approach to reading. The initial findings on how teaching methods impact the brain are:

Optimal activation in the brain occurs when instruction focused on the word’s structure/ reading the word phonetically (similar to Structured Literacy Approach).

Learning to decode through explicit instruction in sound-letter patterns activates areas the left hemisphere of the brain. The left side of the brain, is the center for language which is wired for reading and an area that shows high activity in proficient/skilled readers.

Whole word memorization, showed inefficient/less optimal brain activation, when used as a strategy to learn a new word (similar to Whole Language Approach).

Reading words through memorization, shows more activity in the brain’s right hemisphere. This pattern is consistent with struggling readers. Learning to read words by memorization did not show optimal brain activity.

Learning to read by sound-letter associations, positively impacts future reading of novel words.

Breaking down a word into individual phonemes (sounds), not only helps a child to figure out the word initially, but is shown to impact the future reading success of the word as well. Having tools to decode words is a transferable skill.

The method and delivery of phonics instruction should be intentional.

Not all phonics instruction is equal! The research shows the importance of intentionally directing the learner’s attention to the sound-letter pattern.

The Structured Literacy approach addresses all of the components that research shows is most effective in learning how to read! Working with professionals who have experience and are trained in Structured Literacy approach, can help your child become a proficient reader. Learn how Lexercise uses Structured Literacy to strengthen the brain and give your child a free dyslexia screener HERE!

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Higgins, J. (2015, June 5). New brain study sheds light on how best to teach reading. Retrieved July 15, 2015, from

Wong, M. (2015, May 28). Stanford study on brain waves shows how different teaching methods affect reading development. Retrieved July 15, 2015, from