Repeating Polysyllables

Among the more difficult words at the end of the Schonell Word Recognition test (Schonell and Schonell, 1952) is the word preliminary. What I have found with dyslexic children and adults is that responses which I had not believed were relevant to the diagnosis suddenly 'hit me in the eye' as having a significance which I had hitherto not appreciated. In this particular case I do not know how many times I had given the later part of the Schonell Word Recognition test to my subjects before I realised that stumbles over the word preliminary might be of diagnostic relevance. From then on I made a point of trying to notice whether such stumbling occurred. In this connection I consulted with my colleague Gill Cotterell, who had been teaching children at the Word-Blind Centre in Coram's Fields (see Chapter 4), and asked her if she had encountered anything similar. She said she had, and told me of a boy who had said 'par cark' for car park. Soon afterwards Elaine and I were giving lessons to three brothers who came to our house accompanied by their mother. She explained that the boys' father was also dyslexic and that, though he said that he wished to be philosophical about it, he just could not say the word philosophical. Into the Bangor Dyslexia Test, which I was working on at the time, went the word philosophical. Other words which were added were anemone and statistical.

In an earlier version of the test I included the word competition. After all, it was a word of four syllables - and, if memorisation of that number of syllables was the problem, therefore dyslexics would have difficulty with it. They did not, and competition was removed from the test. I later came to realise that it was not the number of syllables as such which was important - it was rather the problems which the subjects encountered in having to articulate the words. Thus to say the m-sound the two lips have to be touching each other, while to produce the n-sound the tongue has to be placed on the alveolar ridge. It follows that to articulate the words preliminary and anemone what is required is to move at speed between places of articulation which are very close together. The same goes for the 'ph', 'l' and 's' sounds in philosophical. In the case of statistical the most common error is to say 'satistical'; it is possible that in failing to repeat this word accurately the dyslexic child is at the same stage as some younger non-dyslexic children. It is known that a consonant cluster followed by a vowel and consonant is harder to articulate than consonant-vowel-consonant, and it therefore makes sense that the first 't' should be omitted. The second 'st' is different: because the 't' begins a new syllable (sta-tis-ti-cal, and in this position in the word the 'st' is not perceived as a cluster. The initial 'st' is also in an unstressed syllable, and phonemes in unstressed syllables are always more vulnerable than phonemes in stressed ones (note 7.1).

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Adult Dyslexia

Adult Dyslexia

This is a comprehensive guide covering the basics of dyslexia to a wide range of diagnostic procedures and tips to help you manage with your symptoms. These tips and tricks have been used on people with dyslexia of every varying degree and with great success. People just like yourself that suffer with adult dyslexia now feel more comfortable and relaxed in social and work situations.

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