sequential-spatial “My mind doesn’t work like a train track. It’s more like a web page with lots of hyperlinks.” – dyslexic honors college student.

It’s refreshing to see that more researchers take an interest on dyslexia beyond reading. In this recent paper from Belgium and Missouri, the challenges of remembering sequential information  for dyslexics and non-dyslexics was reviewed.

Both working memory and sequencing were examined. Working memory is a type of short-term memory necessary for keeping information ‘in mind.’ Sequencing is remembering the order that things are said. It’s activities such as this that that can make something like following classroom instructions or remembering computer passwords easy or hard.

Several interesting observations were made from their review of the research literature:

– Dyslexic children and adults tend to have difficulties with both verbal and visual sequential short term memory
– Some dyslexic folk don’t have short term memory weaknesses
– Dyslexic study subjects that had difficulty with word and non-word item recall didn’t have trouble with recalling them on tests of recognition
– At least one study of dyslexic adults showed that difficulty reproducing the order of Japanese and Hindi characters was mainly when information was presented sequentially over days rather then all-at-once in sequence (spatial sequencing).

From the last paper (see below):

“In the order-reconstruction task, there was a significant impairment in the sequential condition, but no impairment in the simultaneous condition, consistent with a deficit in processing temporal order. The finding of no overall deficit in the simultaneous condition is consistent with other studies that have shown that dyslexics have no overarching difficulties with visuospatial processing, but perform poorly only in conditions that stress attention by requiring split allocation to crowded positions (see Romani, Tsouknida, et al., 2011)”

For more discussions about implications for teaching, see below for PREMIUM Subscribers