A: Recent studies using functional MRI analysis have allowed us to map the areas of the brain that we use in reading and writing. They have shown that about 20 percent of people are chronically poor spellers due to a neurological glitch. Typically, there are three zones of the brain used - one in the front (the left inferior frontal gyrus) and two towards the back (the left parieto-temporal system and the occipito-temporal). For the 20 percent who struggle with spelling, it looks as if the areas in the back of the brain are less engaged during the process. For them, the left parieto-temporal and occipito-temporal stay relatively quiet, with most of the reading activity remaining in the frontal area. They may build up compensatory pathways, but they are not reading the normal way. So, if his is not engaging his occipito-temporal area in particular, he is going to struggle with spelling because he is not able to visualize words. And with so many irregularly spelled words in English, he is going to be wrong a lot of the time. So, in other words, he may be a very capable reader, but he may be doing so in an atypical way and not utilizing the parts of his brain for reading that would also help him in spelling.
If your student needs help in spelling, instruction works best when it is focuses on sounds and letters in a systematic, explicit, and structured manner which is exactly how our Wilson program works. Call Dr. Bell for a consultation at (843) 810-9202.