For children with dyslexia, listening better may help them read and write better.
A study done at Northwestern University found that children who simply wear listening devices in their ear throughout the day show better word comprehension and reading improvement.
The researchers targeted dyslexics’ phonological difficulties—people with dyslexia are not processing individual word and letter sounds well enough, which results in poor reading skills. The devices also helped kids focus better, which sometimes is problematic for children with dyslexia.
“We saw improvements in reading, and when we measured the brain’s response to speech sounds, not only did the kids who wore the device become more consistent to the very soft and rapidly changing elements of sound that help distinguish one consonant from another, but their brains responded more consistently to sounds,” said study senior author Nina Kraus, a neuroscientist at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. “That improved stability was linked with reading improvement.”
Not only did children show reading improvements after wearing the listening devices, their brain activity also changed—they responded better to individual sounds.
Though there aren’t specific devices developed yet, researchers suggest that teachers and parents speak loudly and clearly to children to have similar results.
“You’re speaking right into the child’s ear and helping their nervous system to stabilize, and providing a strong and steady scaffold for literacy skills to build on,” Kraus said.
To read the full results of the study, visit the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences’ September 4 issue.