California Governor Newsom to publish children’s book on dyslexia


By Jonny Lupsha, News Editor

Controversial Governor Gavin Newsom of California has written a children’s book on dyslexia. Governor Newsom said in a statement that he also suffered from dyslexia. It is the most common specific learning disability.

Dyslexia is often identified in students who have difficulty learning the names and sounds of letters and putting them together into phonemes, units of sound that include syllables of words. Photo by LightField Studios / Shutterstock

After surviving dismissal, California Governor Gavin Newsom finished work on a new product that should be far less controversial than his political career. The great success of Ben and Emma, a children’s book written by Newsom, tells the story of a boy with dyslexia and how disability affects his life. Newsom was inspired by his personal experience with the book, as he suffers from it himself.

Dyslexia is the most common and well-known specific learning disability. In his video series The learning brain, Dr Thad Polk, a professor Arthur F. Thurnau in the Department of Psychology at the University of Michigan, explained that his symptoms are not actually caused by visual impairment.

Life with dyslexia

There are two kinds of dyslexia. Developmental dyslexia, which is often noticed when children have difficulty learning to read, occurs naturally. Acquired dyslexia is often the result of brain damage in adulthood. Since Dr. Polk spoke exclusively about developmental dyslexia, and because it’s so much more common, he simply called it “dyslexia”.

“Dyslexia is characterized by difficulty recognizing or decoding written words, which cannot be attributed to poor vision, low intelligence or lack of education,” said Dr. Polk. “Some dyslexics report feeling like letters in words jump when they try to read.”

Dyslexia is also accompanied by other symptoms. Children with dyslexia have difficulty pronouncing words or confusing two words with similar spelling. They may even feel sick or feel dizzy when trying to read. Although they are able to learn to read as adults, it is a slow and difficult process.

However, dyslexia is not caused by visual impairment or a problem with language comprehension, contrary to popular belief. Studies show it’s a bit more complicated.

Phonology and phonemes

“The evidence suggests that the underlying problem with dyslexia usually lies in the processing of phonology,” Dr. Polk said. “Phonology refers to the basic atomic sounds from which all words are composed. These atomic sounds are called phonemes and they differ from language to language – there are a total of 44 phonemes in English, and each word in the language is made up of a subset of these sounds in a specific order. .

For example, the word “chop” is made up of three phonemes, which are the sounds “chu”, “aw” and “pu”. Breaking words down into phonemes becomes less important in adulthood, but it’s an absolutely crucial skill when someone is learning to read. Why?

“When you start to read, the written words are just strings of unknown letters and you have to go through a sequence of steps to figure out what those letters stand for,” Dr. Polk said. “A critical step in this process is to break down the sound of the word into its component phonemes. “

When a child is learning to read, it is believed that when an adult reads to him, the child is trying to match the sounds he hears with the letters he sees on the page. Dyslexics have a phonological deficit which makes it difficult for them to identify the phonemes that make up each word. The skill they lack is known as “phonological awareness”.

“That is, they are not aware of the phonological structure of the words they hear,” said Dr Polk. “They can’t understand that ‘bu’ is the first sound of ‘bat’ and that ‘aa’ is the first sound of ‘after’. This lack of phonological awareness makes it very difficult to probe the written words and understand what they are.

The great success of Ben and Emma will be released on December 7th.

Edited by Angela Shoemaker, The Great Courses Daily

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