Most school-aged children manage to concentrate on their teacher’s voice despite the cacophony of a roomful of other students, thanks to the brain’s innate ability to automatically focus on the most relevant information. However, for children with dyslexia, the teacher’s voice may get lost in the noise of opening desks and books, whispering and chairs scraping on the floor.
Dyslexia is a disorder in the brain’s ability to translate visual images into meaningful words. It is the most common learning disorder among children, affecting kids with normal vision and intelligence. While they may find it difficult to interpret spoken or written language, these children speak normally. Teachers are often the first to notice the problem.
Recent research conducted at Northwestern University in Chicago confirmed that dyslexic children suffer from neurological deficits that make it difficult for them to pay attention in noisy environments. On the other hand, dyslexic children showed enhanced brain activity under variable conditions. This may enable dyslexic children to represent their sensory environment in a broader and possibly more creative manner, although at the cost of the ability to exclude irrelevant signals (background noise).
Researchers studied a group of 30 dyslexic students in order to find ways to diagnose the disorder. Children with dyslexia had more difficulty hearing in noisy classrooms than other children. Students with poor reading abilities also appeared less likely to retain information that they had read while there was background noise. Simple strategies can sometimes make a big difference for a child with dyslexia.
According to this study, dyslexic children may require more support in order to do well in the highly stimulating environment of a classroom. However, simply placing dyslexic children in front of the teacher can be of great help in improving their concentration. Some children may also benefit from wireless technologies and noise-reducing headphones in order to better perceive the most relevant information.