The main aim of the Dyslexia Association of India™ - T.R.A.I.N Neuroplasticity programme is to address the literacy needs of children along with efforts to raise the achievement levels of all students and to specifically meet the needs of struggling readers.
Current day expectations generated on children by the need for an increasingly literate and meritocratic society and demands for meeting yearly progress goals is beginning to show on a large number of children who will eventually face some form of academic difficulty in the school years. The literacy needs of children will be diverse and there is a strong possibility that the best intended intervention programmes might fall short of achieving the goal of reducing the number of struggling readers.
The remediation response programme of the Dyslexia Association of India™ focuses on universal screening, progress monitoring, and multi-tiered instructional service delivery. Screening and progress-monitoring tools specifically tied to academic accountability benchmarks are used and a multi-tiered instructional framework that addresses the literacy needs of all struggling readers is used.
The T.R.A.I.N approach is to provide targeted remediation via enhanced instruction and systematically implement more intensive interventions to meet the instructional needs of children who are struggling with their reading and writing.
The approach uses the following components: (a) accurate universal screening to assure that all students at-risk for reading difficulties are identified as early as possible, (b) valid and reliable progress monitoring to determine students’ response to the remediation that is being delivered and which may vary in intensity and differentiation, and (c) multi-tiered metacognitive -based reading interventions to provide confidence that students whose response is less than expected have been provided with the most effective instruction and intervention protocols available.
Knowledge about effective school and student factors is used and the programme introduces instruction-driven assessments and a layered approach to instructional service delivery that we provide (level I); it supplements instruction with secondary interventions that provide greater intensity, differentiation, and time on task for some students (Level II); and provides intensive intervention for a smaller number of students who have not benefited adequately from formal classroom instruction and secondary instruction (Level III).
Determination of the level of intervention needed is based on the results of progress-monitoring assessments of the intervention provided.
Progress monitoring is very important as the variation in reading-related difficulties is higher as students progress in grades and some higher grade children require many of the elements related to reading difficulties in younger students (e.g., alphabetic principle, word-reading strategies, fluency), while other students may struggle as a result of the accumulated negative outcomes associated with low levels of reading. These issues are generally seen as limited vocabulary and concept knowledge, lack of knowledge of comprehension strategies for reading diverse text types and low motivation for reading.
Schooling where children are clubbed together normally leads to not all students being provided with substantive early intervention, while some students are provided with inadequate early intervention.
The constraint on resources available means that those students who are provided with ineffective intervention early struggle later when text and knowledge demands increase, and some students who did not have reading difficulties manifest reading difficulties later in their life.
Instructional issues in each school are such that reading can vary as children move up the class ladder and as children advance through the grades, reading demands increase with the need for understanding more complex vocabulary and concepts. This translates into many older readers who have also not mastered the basic reading skills (i.e., decoding and fluency) and their need to effectively benefit from instruction being sidelined. And rather than helping them learn how to read and write the instructional strategies focus solely on teaching which is geared to the pursuit of grades in the exams.
Eventually, students who read slowly and laboriously read fewer words overall and often become hesitant readers who struggle to learn from text. This increases the chasm between the poor reader and a fluent reader.
When the T.R.A.I.N programme is structured for any Individual child, the implementation of systematic, explicit instruction in comprehension strategies and vocabulary creates cognitive opportunities for practice in text which is geared to the child’s’ reading level.
Corrective feedback, and explicit instruction in the use of strategies to read words quickly and accurately leads to children benefiting in beginning phonics skills to decoding multi-syllabic words and practicing reading for fluency, depending on their degree of development and corresponding areas of need.
Multiple opportunities of explicit instruction in vocabulary and the application of comprehension strategies leads to concept development, and smooth reading comprehension.
What we notice is that there is a continual regression in reading for students with low vocabulary that starts in third grade and which becomes more pronounced as children progress through the classes. All the while school textbook demands in fourth grade and beyond require students to know and acquire many words and concepts, which are progressively complex.
When implemented for children who come for cognitive neuroplasticity, the noticeable results of the T.R.A.I.N based neuroplasticity remediation is in the working memory and overall cognitive development of students with reading difficulties. The use of a variety of approaches, including mnemonics, cognitive strategy instruction, direct instruction, activity-based methods, and computer-assisted instruction yield very positive outcomes.
One of the primary noticeable effects on students of this remediation is that even higher-grade children with reading difficulties benefit from interventions and we find that it is never not too late to provide remedial instruction to these students.
The T.R.A.I.N programme uses multi-component interventions to coordinate the above variety of approaches in areas of reading so that long term brain based changes occur.
When we look at a school based scenario, a significant issue relating to providing standardized interventions in school to older students with reading difficulties is that the range of reading problems with these students is greater than with younger students with reading difficulties.
Any form of assistance in a school is likely to occur in group-sizes ranging from 6–25 students. For this reason-standardized interventions are not able to ensure that the critical element needed for instruction is targeted – e.g., students who need extensive word study and who have the opportunities for this instruction, motivation and behavioral support to ensure engagement, is normally missing.
The T.R.A.I.N programme recognizes that the hallmark of instruction for students with reading disabilities is the individualization of interventions, as older students with reading difficulties who may have previously participated in basic school interventions that were not successful at remediating their reading difficulties have a greater need for assistance.
With older students the range of reading difficulties is likely to vary based on the learning needs of students, the reasons for their reading difficulties, and the gap between their performance and grade-level expectations. And this is the reason that the T.R.A.I.N programme has an increased emphasis on flexibility in lesson planning and overall instructional decision-making.
T.R.A.I.N uses a bi-weekly curriculum based measure to determine if students are responding to instruction and to guide future instructional decision making accordingly.
Level I intervention in the T.R.A.I.N programme has the goal to improve the overall cognitive level instruction related to reading and learning from text for children with a clear aim to raise overall achievement levels along with facilitation of the generalization of a small set of vocabulary and comprehension strategies by children who learn these strategies in supplemental small groups.
In the Level II intervention children are taught to apply these across their content area classes.
In the Level III stage, word reading through understanding and applying sound elements mapped to print (letter-sound correspondence and then phonology of sound combinations) to build and read words rapidly and accurately is emphasized and subsequently word and concept meaning as well as reading comprehension strategies so that meaning can be derived from words and text are strengthened. This intensive instruction is reflected in activities that require high levels of child engagement in learning critical content. Children are provided with opportunities to practice and to apply skills and strategies while reading and writing connected text.
Lack of mastery in decoding and accurate word reading which prevent a buildup of reading skills from easy to more difficult, makes intervention complex because comprehension skills which are based on higher levels of vocabulary and concept knowledge and increasing knowledge of how to understand and interpret expository and narrative texts is crucial for becoming an efficient and fluent learner.
T.R.A.I.N has compatible interwoven elements that include building and increasing skills related to word reading—including complex word types and regular and irregular word reading—along with bi-weekly instruction in vocabulary and comprehension with an emphasis on expository text. The main aim is to achieve competence in word study and decoding skills, fluency in word recognition and text processing, construction of meaning, vocabulary, spelling, and writing based on explicit and systematic instruction that provides high opportunities for teacher to student interaction in a secure scaffold enriched environment.
T.R.I.A.N, which stands for Targeted Remedial Advanced Individual Neuroplasticity, is the training programme of the DAI™ and uses scientific principles incorporated in Special Needs Education to bring about changes in cognition via the modality of Brain Neuroplasticity.
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