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Dyslexia Case Study: Werner Louw’s Remarkable
Werner Louw 1991
Although his parents went from pillar to post to try and solve his reading problem, nothing seemed to help. As he grew older, a sense of inferiority took hold and he had to receive treatment for depression. “I didn't know what to do, which way to turn. Nothing we did seemed to help his problem,” says his mother Nellie Louw. It was therefore with great skepticism that the Louw parents embarked on the Audiblox program in March 1990.
Before Werner started with Audiblox — at the time he was in tenth grade — his reading efficiency was assessed at the Technikon Pretoria by means of an ophthalmograph or eye-camera. It was found to be equal to that of a second-grade child. This meant that his reading ability was about ten years behind his chronological age. His eyes fixated 164 times and regressed 36 times with every one hundred words of reading. His reading speed was only 107 words per minute.
Five months later, after working faithfully according to a customized Audiblox program for two half-hour sessions per day, five days per week, Werner's reading efficiency was retested. It then equaled a ninth-grade level. The number of fixations dropped to 87 and regressions to three. His reading speed was now 163 words per minute.
Six months after this second reading test, Werner's reading efficiency was tested once again and found to be equal to a second-year college level. His eyes now fixated only 73 times in one hundred words. The number of regressions, already low, remained the same. He could now read 230 words per minute. This means that, in less than one year, Werner's reading efficiency level improved by twelve years.
There is no doubt that Audiblox was the turning point in Werner's life. After school he studied architecture on a full-time basis.
Werner's life could not have been better. Besides being very successful in his career he is happily married. His son recently turned one.
The Eye-Camera and its Application
At the time when Werner Louw embarked on the Audiblox program the eye-camera was still a very popular instrument to assess reading efficiency. The eye-camera measures the time it takes a person to read a piece of text, and from this his reading speed per minute is calculated. The movements of the person's eyes are photographed and represented on a reading graph.
This reading graph can be analyzed to determine the number of eye fixations that occurred during reading. When a person reads, his eyes engage in a series of quick movements across the page with intermittent fixation pauses. The more often the eyes have to pause for fixations, the slower the reading speed will be. A dyslexic person will be inclined to pause more often, and the duration of each fixation will be longer than that of the typical reader. After this, it is possible to calculate the person's recognition span. This refers to the average number of words the person can recognize in one fixation, as well as to the average duration of such a fixation.
By analyzing the reading graph one can also determine whether any regressions occurred in the eye movements of the reader. A regression occurs when the eyes moves toward the left to look again at words that had been covered already. The dyslexic person is inclined to have more regressions than the normal reader.
After reading the piece of text, the person doing the test is required to answer a number of questions on the contents. This is to determine his comprehension, which is expressed in a percentage. Lastly, the relative reading efficiency can be calculated, which is expressed in year levels.
The test results of Werner are presented below. The solid line represents the first reading test on 9 March 1990, the thin dashed line the retest on 5 August 1990, and the thick dashed line the second retest on 12 February 1991.