Reading Difficulties and the Twofold Character of Language : How to Understand Dyslexia

Abstract: The present longitudinal study, which comprised 125 children from Grade 2 (typal age: 8) to Grade 6 (typal age: 13), examines and interprets the results of several decoding and reading comprehension tests. A point of departure is the proposition that there may be a lack of concepts about central questions that help interpret the results of an expanding test practice in the educational system. To construct the central questions the typologies and hypothetical causes of reading problems ought to be constrained in relation to explanatory constructs combining reading acquisition and reading difficulties. First, the field of research on reading acquisition and reading difficulties was surveyed as a background to the presentation of the model, which is heavily indebted to and basically molded on the balance model but which also takes advantage of the proposition of combining the double-route and connectionist approaches. Second, the following themes were investigated empirically:– The predictive power of the tests: Generally, there seem to be almost as accurate predictions from Grade 2 as from Grade 3. A combined decoding-comprehension prediction was not shown to be more powerful as a product than as a linear combination.– The possibility of an image/symbol transition in early reading acquisition: A weak image/letter decoding correlation distinguished boys weak in reading comprehension from all others in Grade 3; a weak letter/word decoding correlation distinguished those weak from those strong in reading comprehension regardless of gender in Grades 2 and 3; and a weak image/word decoding correlation distinguished boys from girls in Grade 2. – Indications of stages in the development of reading: The conclusion is that orthographic decoding is more strongly related to reading comprehension than is phonologic decoding but there appears to be a parallel development of phonologic and orthographic decoding between Grades 3 and 6. This pattern seems to be the same for boys and girls and for those with low and high reading comprehension. – Comparing subtypes: The surface/phonologic dyslexia distinctions were tentatively related to the linguistic/perceptual dyslexia distinctions and the letter/word-decoding screening instrument. The compensatory concept is questioned.– Dimensions in reading acquisition and reading difficulties: A conclusive proposition of the study is that the hypothetical twofold metaphor/metonym character of language may be instrumental in analysing the complex interaction between the characteristic traits of the learning brain and the construction of meaning through script.