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14 - An educational/psychological perspective on the behaviors of three children with reading disabilities

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 September 2009

Joseph K. Torgesen
W. Russell and Eugenia Morcom Chair of Psychology and Education, Director of the Florida Center for Reading Research Florida State University
Kurt W. Fischer
Harvard University, Massachusetts
Jane Holmes Bernstein
The Children's Hospital, Boston
Mary Helen Immordino-Yang
University of Southern California
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Overview: From an educational perspective, deriving meaning from text is paramount, and all other reading processes subserve this goal. Torgesen suggests that dyslexia be described at two levels that reflect this fact – the primary level of cognitive and neurophysiological deficits and the secondary level of behavioral and comprehension deficits that are associated with, but not necessarily caused by, neurological conditions. He shows how these two levels work with the four boys whom he was asked to analyze. In the end, while primary deficits will manifest in timed measures, phonological problems, and other reading-related subskills, secondary deficits seem to matter more in educational contexts. Children often build skills that work around their primary deficits so that they have virtually no secondary deficits. Analyzing brain–behavior correlations and their relations to educational functioning requires distinguishing these two levels of reading disorder.

The Editors

In this essay, I will discuss the behaviors of four children performing several reading and non-reading tasks from an educational/psychological perspective. I would like to begin with the simple observation that it is easy for researchers like myself to lose sight of the full individuality of children with reading disabilities when we spend most of our time thinking about the children only in terms of patterns of scores on a narrowly selected set of tests. Although William, Brian, and Andrew were all similar because they had experienced difficulties in learning to read to varying degrees, they each have complex personalities and response styles that are uniquely their own.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2007

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