helping the young with learning Difficulties

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Mark Taylor of Nuffield College Oxford was on the Radio 4 Today programme (08042011) talking about the latest research which suggests that Teenagers who want a high flying career should take up reading;Press association release is here:

Activities such as sports, playing a musical instrument or computer games make no difference to a person's career, but there is a clear link between reading for pleasure and gaining a good job, it found.

The research, by Mark Taylor of Nuffield College, Oxford University, analysed the responses of 17,200 people born in 1970 who gave details of their extra-curricular activities at age 16, and their jobs at age 33.

The findings show that 16-year-olds who read a book at least once a month were "significantly" more likely to be in a professional or managerial position at the age of 33 than those who did not read.

For girls, there was a 39% probability that they would be in a professional or managerial position at 33 if they read at 16, compared to a 25% chance if they had not.

Among boys, there was a 58% chance of being in a good job at 33 if they had read as a teenager, compared to a 48% chance if they had not.

The research also looked at after-school activities including sports, socialising, going to the cinema, concerts or museums, cooking and sewing, but found that none of these had an impact on careers.

Mr Taylor, who is presenting the findings at the British Sociological Association's annual conference in London, said: "According to our results, there is something special about reading for pleasure - the positive associations of reading for pleasure aren't replicated in any other extra-curricular activity, regardless of our expectations."

Reading could be beneficial because it improves a youngster's intellect, Mr Taylor suggested, or because employers feel happier taking on someone with a similar educational background.

The research also reveals that teenagers who spend their time playing computer games shouldn't worry about their job prospects - there was no evidence that playing computer games frequently made it less likely that a teenager would get a good job.

A paper from the American Academy of Paediatrics published on line 28/2/2011 ( /127/3/e818:

Some of which is here to wet the appetite!


Learning Disabilities, Dyslexia, and Vision


Sheryl M. Handler, MD, Walter M. Fierson, MD, the Section on Ophthalmology and Council on Children with Disabilities, American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, and American Association of Certified Orthoptists

Learning disabilities constitute a diverse group of disorders in which children who generally possess at least average intelligence have problems processing information or generating output. Their etiologies are multifactorial and reflect genetic influences and dysfunction of brain systems. Reading disability, or dyslexia, is the most common learning disability. It is a receptive language-based learning disability that is characterized by difficulties with decoding, fluent word recognition, rapid automatic naming, and/or reading-comprehension skills. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonologic component of language that makes it difficult to use the alphabetic code to decode the written word. Early recognition and referral to qualified professionals for evidence-based evaluations and treatments are necessary to achieve the best possible outcome. Because dyslexia is a language-based disorder, treatment should be directed at this etiology. Remedial programs should include specific instruction in decoding, fluency training, vocabulary, and comprehension. Most programs include daily intensive individualized instruction that explicitly teaches phonemic awareness and the application of phonics. Vision problems can interfere with the process of reading, but children with dyslexia or related learning disabilities have the same visual function and ocular health as children without such conditions. Currently, there is inadequate scientific evidence to support the view that subtle eye or visual problems cause or increase the severity of learning disabilities. Because they are difficult for the public to understand and for educators to treat, learning disabilities have spawned a wide variety of scientifically unsupported vision-based diagnostic and treatment procedures. Scientific evidence does not support the claims that visual training, muscle exercises, ocular pursuit-and-tracking exercises, behavioral/perceptual vision therapy, "training" glasses, prisms, and colored lenses and filters are effective direct or indirect treatments for learning disabilities. There is no valid evidence that children who participate in vision therapy are more responsive to educational instruction than children who do not participate.