Patterns of Rhyming Ability in Children with Dyslexia
The language systems in the brain perform the function of reading by converting graphemes (i.e. basic unit of writing in any language) to phonemes (small units of sounds of spoken English) and phonemes to semantics (the word's meaning). Some children process this type of information easily; however in children with dyslexia, the skill is only learnt with difficulty. Children with dyslexia have poor phoneme awareness and thus rhyming ability gets affected. Since rhyming ability is considered a particularly strong predictor of later reading development in English (Goswami, Bradley and Bryant, 1990), this study aimed to assess the phonological skills and patterns of errors in rhyming ability in children with dyslexia. 30 children diagnosed with dyslexia and undergoing remedial education were studied (Chronological Age = 9 years to 14 years, Mean Age= 11 years).

Subjects performed a rhyme detection task for orthographically and phonologically similar word pairs (e.g. 'bite-kite') and orthographically similar but phonologically dissimilar word pairs (e.g. 'leaf-deaf'), which were presented on flash cards and read out. Two lists of 20 word pairs each; one list consisting of meaningful word pairs and the other list consisting of word pairs in which the first word is a non-meaningful word (e.g. 'Tave-Have' and 'Rull-Dull') were used. Time taken for rhyme detection for each word pair and errors were noted.

Results of the two groups were interpreted in terms of difficulties in phonological processing (i.e. operations by which words are interpreted in terms of speech sounds) compensated by greater used of orthographic characteristics of the word pairs (i.e. visual encoding of written words), poor orthographical and phonological integration and inability to use orthographical analogies in children with dyslexia. Results were also discussed in terms of impact of regular and intensive remedial education.

The current study gives an insight into the reading problems of children with dyslexia. Rhyming skills, grapheme phoneme conversion skills and ability to use orthographic analogies as important pointers for diagnosis and predictors of further reading developments in dyslexia are implicated. Application of these skills in regular and remedial education is also discussed.

  • Guide - Dr. Anuradha Sovani, Clinical Psychologist, Reader at Mumbai University
  • Acknowledgements to New Horizons Child Development Centre, Maharashtra Dyslexia Association and Don Bosco School for data collection.
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