Phonological Memory

The ‘student’ who got me interested in dyslexia was 17-years-old, perceptive, well behaved, and seemed normal enough.  He talked in grunts, which seemed to me as well-adjusted for a teenager.

But over a few chats I started to learn the truth.  He couldn’t read “The Cat in the Hat”, and could barely follow a conversation. He didn’t watch TV dramas because he couldn’t follow the story.

I had no idea how to help him, and took him in to an Educational Psychologist for a full assessment.  He scored in the bottom 1% on a number of measures, including phonological processing,  digit span,  and other tests that I didn’t understand then.   He was formally diagnosed with APD (CAPD as it was then) and severe reading deficit.  But the psychologist cheerfully assured me that there was nothing wrong with him, he merely needed to be taught to read properly.  And she was right.


One of the exercises that we worked on every day was a simple word-game to increase his phonological memory.   There were two flavors of the game.

In the first we would call out some random words, and he would try to remember them for some period.  We would start with three words, and he would try to remember them for 5 seconds, and over time that stretched to five or six words over 20 seconds.

In the second we would call out some random words, and he would reverse them in his head and say them back.  We started with three words, and over time built up to five and sometimes even six words.

We only did 10 trials per day.  It was a game, never work.  The only rule was that he couldn’t repeat the words aloud (recycling the words to his ears), his jaw had to remain immobile.

It’s hard to think of random words, so I created a small tool to help call words.  I recently pulled it off a backup disk for a friend, and here it is.  Absolutely no claims of usefulness, since I don’t understand Please let me know if you find it useful or have suggestions to make it more useful.

Random Word Generator.   Hit refresh for a new set of words.

Posted in ReadingBlog

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