Adult Dyslexia and Word Puzzles: Results of a Pilot Project

Adult Dyslexia and Word Puzzles: Results of a Pilot Project

Priscilla Beatriz Burley (University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada), Natasha Cuneo (University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada), Emanuel Ellis (University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada) and Lillian Smith (University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/IJSVR.2018010106

Abstract

This article describes how dyslexia is a real disease that is linked to specific semiotic systems, such as the alphabet and word orthographical rules. As such, it is likely to be a result of an asymmetry between developmental cognition and particular semiotic structure. If this is so, then an appropriate intervention approach that is based on this hypothesis might involve the use of word puzzles that play on the alphabetic and semantic structure of words. This article presents the findings of a pilot project in which selected adult dyslexics were asked to participate in a word puzzle study, consisting of word searches, anagrams, and word squares, whereby they would be asked to solve a set of puzzles under the supervision of a researcher. The latter documented and annotated the actual behaviors of the participants as they solved the puzzles. The overall result of the project is a promising one in that it suggests that the use of such “enigmatological” strategies may have a definite role to play in dyslexia intervention, although much more research is needed in this area.
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Background

The type of dyslexia that concerns us here is known generally as phonological dyslexia. Its main symptomatology includes difficulties in breaking words down into syllables and into smaller sound units or phonemes. For example, if one says a word out loud to a child with weak phonemic skills, the child can hear and repeat the word correctly but will have trouble segmenting it into the different sounds that constitute it. The child will typically have problems matching phonemes with their written symbols (graphemes). Diagnoses have shown that such children, when shown a bunch of letters in a row, can usually name each of them, albeit with difficulty—but cannot put them together phonemically (in most cases). Some believe that slow naming speed is behind difficulties with phonological processing in reading.

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