Examine the argument that the cognitive, biological and environmental explanations of dyslexia are complementary. (Specimen) "Different perspectives lead to different theories. And different theories can provide insights into the same thing" Lyttelton et al Mapping Psychology 1 OU 2002 Dyslexia is a congenital condition that results in a primary difficulty in learning to read and write, although its behaviour al symptoms are far more wide ranging than this. Uta Frith (1999) suggests there are 3 main perspectives on any developmental condition: behaviour al perspective, cognitive perspective and biological perspective.
She also emphasizes the significant impact environmental factors can have in the explanations offered from the biological, cognitive and behaviour al perspectives. This paper aims to outline and evaluate the "object of knowledge" of each perspective. From there it will identify and compare the methods used by each perspective and the intervention strategies proposed to facilitate "change." In so doing, this paper will clarify whether the cognitive, biological and environmental explanations of dyslexia are complementary. All three perspectives offer different views of what they see as important in dyslexia research. Behavioural perspectives describe the behaviour al signs experienced by people with dyslexia.
Cognitive perspectives offer insights into the mental processes involved and influenced by dyslexia. The biological perspective is offers explanations of the behaviour al symptoms in terms of possible biological origins eg. Genetic, neuro physiological, or biochemical. Each perspective obviously differs in their "object of knowledge", yet all three remain focused on the condition of dyslexia.
Evidently the behaviour ist perspective conflicts with the cognitive perspective regarding mental processes and whether emphasis should be on just behaviour of behaviour that is used to make inferences about what is going on in the head. Behavioural perspectives use directly observable behaviour to establish the possibility of the presence of this developmental condition. They identify signs such as difficulty in linking sound to a symbol, orientation of letters (Samuel Orton twisted symbols), problems breaking up words into their constituent sound, difficulty sequencing information (affects rote learning, m tables, expression of ideas) and mixed handedness (Alexander Falody) Dyslexia is primarily manifested by a difficulty to read and write. In this case the "signs" are likely to be identified by a parent/ guardian or teacher who would be in direct contact with the child during the learning processes of reading and writing.
Comparatively, cognitive perspective use experiments to make inferences about human behaviour in the case of dyslexia. The cognitive perspective recognises that several features of dyslexia point towards memory, and perception and attention to a lesser extent. Through experimentation, difficulties with tasks involving STM processing have been identified eg. mental arithmetic, spelling and writing. As a result, it is possible to suggest that a deficit in phonological processing may provide an explanation for dyslexia, which in turn would explain the reading and writing difficulties experienced by dyslexia sufferers.
While the cognitive perspective does not extend our understanding of dyslexia, it does account for a range of behaviour al symptoms observed in dyslexia sufferers. In addition, a deficit in phonological processing is one of many other cognitive explanations for dyslexia, including visual perception and automatization of skills. Samuel Orton observed children with specific reading difficulties and suggested that their reading difficulties may reflect some visual processing impairment involving incomplete specialization between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. Here the behaviour ist and cognitive perspectives are seen as complementary, in that the behaviour ist approach is adopted through observation and a cognitive approach was applied to these observations. Although origins of dyslexia are far from obvious, it does occur within families, indicating possible genetic contributions, bringing me to the biological perspective.
Physical traits appear to be "representative" of people with dyslexia. These include mixed-handedness and minor physical anomalies (abnormalities), and being male to mention a few. By connecting these physical descriptions to observed behaviour al dyslexia symptoms, we may identify clues to the possible biological mechanisms underlying the condition eg genetic influence, biochemistry, or the abnormal metabolism of highly unsaturated fatty acids (HUFA) etc. This perspective offers another view of possible causes of dyslexia, and in my opinion the biological perspective broadens our knowledge on the topic. If we compare the biological and cognitive perspectives we see certain similarities: both require experimental validation and offer a theoretical explanation for the behaviour al difficulties observed. Considering the three perspectives described above, each is unique, offering different insights into the aspects of dyslexia they consider, but notwithstanding this, their existence together is seen as complementary.
Unf ornately, dyslexia is with an individual for life. While some seek to "change " or at least manage their dyslexia, others do not. Each perspective offers possible measures to encourage "change" in a way that affords the individual a chance to maximis e their potential, despite dyslexia. In fact rather than viewing dyslexia as a deficiency, it is proposed that dyslexia be thought of as a unique cognitive style favouring holistic reasoning over sequential processing of information. Behavioural therapies for dyslexia are rooted in the principals of classical conditioning and behaviour modification therapy. A practical form of this is used in many Irish and UK schools in the guise of "token economy", where pupils best effort and good behaviour is rewarded with league points or gold stars as part of a class reward system.
It's a method adopted in many homes by parents. Cognitive approaches to therapy in contrast address aspects of cognitive processing. The cognitive approach to "change" for dyslexia sufferers is to develop programmes teaching reading and writing in a way that addresses the cognitive deficits associated with dyslexia. The phonic approach teaches students to break down words into composite sounds. The Reading Recovery System (Marie Clay New Zealand) encourages regular periods of one-to -one teaching, identifying specific areas needing further attention. The multi-sensory teaching approach (Orton- Gillingham technique), including visual, tactile, motor and verbal input to memory centres, has been shown to maximis e "change" in a way that allows the child to make associations between visual and verbal information by association via the other senses.
Again, this is considered a very useful cognitive strategy and provides opportunity for the dyslexic sufferer to affect "change" at a cognitive level, if, they so wish. Personally I view both behaviour al and cognitive perspectives complementary and suggest that combined they could reduce the symptoms of dyslexia. There are many problem associated with identifying a psychological problem at a biological basis. However the most widespread method of treating psychological problems is through biochemistry, unlike the aforementioned perspectives that use therapy.
Drug and nutritional treatments eg Omega 6 and 3, and HUFA, offer alternatives when targeting biochemical imbalances associated with dyslexia. For biochemical interventions professionals assess treatments by means of randomized double blind placebo control trials and is seen as the most objective way to find out whether a treatment is effective. Frith also emphasis the significant role of the environment in the explanations offered in the behaviour al, biological and cognitive perspectives. Human behaviour is the product of the complex interplay between cognitive and other processes, which in turn is influenced by a range of interconnected, modifiable biological systems. Our environment (physical, psychological and biological) can impact on all levels and worsen or irritation the severity of the condition as a result. The environments have essentially been excluded but researchers have found that this may well influence dyslexia.
This evidence is significant in that it greatly expands our knowledge of the treatment of dyslexia in the home and school environment. Eg. Snow suggest that a literate home environment encourages progress in a child's reading. Adams has proposed that reading aloud to pre-school child results in real gains in later reading development. EG. The encouragement Alexander Falody received turned his abnormality into the discovery of a unique cognitive style.
His problem was social expectation of teachers and classmates. An example of a biological environmental influence could be a deficiency in Highly unsaturated fatty acids. To recap, each Perspective offers its own unique insights in what it considers NB in relation to D. We discussed the object of knowledge of each and how they might extend our knowledge of D. We outlined some shortfalls of the perspectives but ultimately agree that each contribute to the depth of our understanding of D. It could be concluded that the 3 Perspectives complement each other in that each perspective deepens our understanding of dyslexia in its own way.
As we have seen human behaviour and more specifically D, can be seen as a result of complex interactions between cognitive and other processes, by a whole range of interconnected and modify able biological systems. Also we have seen how our environment can impact on all these levels. To conclude, the most comprehensible and useful account of D in my opinion would be to integrate the different psychological accounts. Only by asking questions from different perspectives do I feel a full explanation of the potential causes and strategies for remediation might be reached.
In conclusion, different perspectives set different tasks and tap into different features of dyslexia. This paper considered the contributions these perspectives brought to dyslexia research and where they complement each other? ?