Laverne Antrobus explores how growing children are affected by the common learning disability of dyslexia through the eyes of children and families affected by it.
Laverne Antrobus looks into one of the most common problems for children, dyslexia, and uncovers some incredible developments in neuroscience that are showing how the dyslexic brain works. As many as one in ten are now thought to be affected by this condition. Laverne discovers that when dyslexia is combined with that crucial period of children's lives when they are first starting to learn, it can be disastrous and lead to poor self-esteem, high stress and low achievement. Laverne also learns that dyslexia is not just something that affects children when they are learning to read - it is a lifelong incurable condition that can affect many aspects of someone's life. How can someone with dyslexia cope as they start the process of entering the working world?
We live in a world of words. Almost everything we do involves reading - instructions, computers, phones, newspapers. It's a skill that is fundamental to functioning properly in today's society, and with the internet it has become ever more crucial. It has now been estimated that we see or hear over 100,000 words every day. Laverne meets Lettie, a ten-year-old girl who faces a daily battle with reading. Through an insightful interview, Laverne learns just how challenging this can make things for her. In a fascinating experiment, Laverne also uses computer animations to make her favourite book - Jane Eyre - difficult for her to read. Through this we begin to see the different way in which a dyslexic views the world.
Laverne also meets Alyce, who has just completed her GCSEs and is thinking about her future. How can dyslexia affect someone's working life? Laverne follows her through her child care course and sees how she struggles with reading to the children, but also her determination to follow her chosen career despite her dyslexia. She also accompanies her in a very emotional sequence where she is reassessed to reveal the extent of her dyslexia.
Laverne then investigates how children in the UK are taught to read and write and the reasons why dyslexics can struggle with this. Dyslexics have no problems with their eyes - so the issue with learning must lie elsewhere. Laverne visits the Medical Research Council's Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge where an exciting new scan experiment is taking place. They are trying to mimic the process when children learn to read for the first time, but under laboratory conditions - to study how their brains process visual information. Here we actually see which pathways in the brain are associated with reading and which pathway causes problems for dyslexics.
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Open University academic Kieron Sheehy interviews Growing Children presenter Laverne Antrobus about ethical issues surrounding the series.