Big Question Pitched:

How can we detect and treat dyslexia on a much broader scale?

Big Question Revision:

How can we detect dyslexia on a behavioral level and treat it biologically, all at an early stage of life?

Feedback:

  • The feedback we received last week was very helpful, as it led us narrow down our big question into something much more specific. Many of the comments told us to either focus on detection or treatment, and other comments told us to focus on one aspect of dyslexia. Additionally, a few people mentioned using biologically-based treatment methods to try to offer a new perspective, given the current behaviorally-based treatment methods.
  • Focus on detection
  • Biologically based treatment

Possible Solutions:

  1. The first idea we had was to have children take an oral test in school when finding out their “reading level” to potentially detect dyslexia.
  2. This would require young students to read aloud, thus detection would have to take place after reading difficulty in school has already begun.
  3. Similar to the idea above, we had the idea to have a written test for children to take in school that is very carefully crafted and could potentially diagnose dyslexia, or at least show that you should go get checked for it.
  4. The two of these ideas could be problematic because they tend to point towards children who come from lower income households and who may not have the tenable resources to learn how to read or write. Additionally, there is lots of variation for when children learn how to read. Ideally, we’d even like to test children before they learn how to read and write.
  5. Another idea was to use technology to create some sort of test, either on social media or some other platform that would reach a large amount of people.
  6. We turned this idea down because the proper testing environment will not be provided, and not everyone (especially minors) has access to social media, let alone to much technology.
  7. Moreover, those who would have access to technology would likely have the financial resources to take part in current tests for dyslexia.
  8. We also had the idea to test for dyslexia annual physical children must receive to go to school.
  9. The problem with this is that all children have different levels of access to healthcare and potentially could miss a diagnosis.
  10. We then figured that at all public schools (and probably private schools too), children have to get their eyes and ears checked by the nurse. This leads us to the idea that in this nurse visit, the nurse could have some sort of carefully crafted test that could determine if the child should get a script to be formally tested for dyslexia. The test would evaluate many aspects of dyslexia, similar to the diagnostic ones currently used.
  11. Once we narrowed it down to a written/oral test, it is still difficult to get a lot of people into a lab to get fMRI because it is very expensive and time intensive. Therefore, we could maybe create some dyslexia-specific brain scan that would be easier to administer than fMRI.
  12. This would be quite expensive to design, model, and test. We are not sure if the benefits of this new technology would outweigh the costs and planning that would go into this.
  13. Then, we thought about some sort of electrode or drug to stimulate the part of the brain that is active in normally developed people that is not stimulated while reading in dyslexic patients.
  14. Our last proposed solution is to find a way to “learn” how to disassociate and train the brain to be able to read without difficulty, rather than just setting up educational accommodations and leaving dyslexia untreated.
  15. This would require looking into neural connections and finding the biological basis of dyslexia. We do not know everything about the formation of neural connections, thus, speculating on the destruction of neural connections would be quite difficult and not temporally feasible.

New Focus/Next Stage:

Our new focus is twofold, incorporating our two best solutions. We are focusing on a better solution to detection of dyslexia (like a test in school). Once they are diagnosed, we aim to find biological methods to treat it more substantially.

Explicitly, our two best solutions are as goes below:

5. At all elementary schools, children have to get their eyes and ears checked by the nurse. This leads us to the idea that in this nurse visit, the nurse could have some sort of carefully crafted test that could determine if the child should get a script to be formally tested for dyslexia. The test would evaluate many aspects of dyslexia, similar to the diagnostic ones currently used.

7. We could create some sort of electrode or drug to stimulate the part of the brain that is active in normally developed people that is not stimulated while reading in dyslexic patients.