Lost & Found: Dr Marion Long's Rhythm4Reading talk at Bell House

"It's hard to be a celebrity without being dyslexic," claimed Marion in her talk at Bell House.  Marion wasn't just talking about techniques that help children with dyslexia to read better, but about the differences in how the brain works for those with dyslexia.   Marion says that people with dyslexia tend to have enormous sensitivity to tone and vowel sounds which contributes to them learning differently, and being more sensitive to orally expressed meaning.

Marion Long has done a lot of research into what helps dyslexic children to learn to read, and says she has learnt lots from her students. However, when she discovered her daughter was dyslexic, her attitude changed. It made it all much more personal and she became less tolerant of teachers who denied that dyslexia existed at all, referring to them as "flat-earthers". Clearly, different schools have different approaches to dyslexia, with some banning the "D-words" such as Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dyspraxia and ADHD, for fear they have negative connotations. From a background of being a successful musician - a professional cellist from the Royal Academy of Music - Marion has moved to being a researcher and teacher in the field of dyslexia and there is plenty of overlap, with sound being at the centre of both fields of work.

We were introduced to several new ideas such as the "Matthew effect", where in a classroom the strong get stronger and the weak get weaker. This can be particularly pronounced where there are dyslexics in the classroom.  Another term we learnt was "conflation", when young readers push words together and refer, for example, to green, brown and black all by the same conflated word "groun", not discriminating between the various words.

The central lesson is that the "deficit model" of dyslexia is very negative in concentrating on what those with dyslexia can't do, and a better approach is to look at what is happening elsewhere in their brains.  People at this Bell House talk in Dulwich really liked Marion’s explanation of her research and her stories. All were keen to hear more - they (and you) can do so by visiting https://rhythmforreading.com/a/about

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