Now, For Some Fun

This is taken from the ADHD Coaches chat room, an occasional resource for Circle material.

7H15 M3554G3

53RV35 7O PR0V3


D0 4M4Z1NG 7H1NG5!

1MPR3551V3 7H1NG5!

1N 7H3 B3G1NN1NG

17 WA5 H4RD BU7

N0W, 0N 7H15 LIN3


R34D1NG 17


W17H 0U7 3V3N

7H1NK1NG 4B0U7 17,


C3R741N P30PL3 C4N

R3AD 7H15.

PL3453 F0RW4RD 1F

U C4N R34D 7H15.

Excuse me while I generalize a bit…

Exercises like this demonstrate some interesting principles that underlie reading. For example, most of us learned to read relying primarily on phonological processes. We learned our letters, the orthography, of our language and then mapped sounds onto each one and to pairs of them (the alphabetic principle). Then we learned to decode words by sounding them out. Of course pretty early on we discover that there are all kinds of irregular words that can’t be sounded out quite so simply, but by and large we did the C…A…T…./k/…/a/…/t/ thing.

To become fluid readers though, requires automaticity, which we get by over-learning the gestalt or whole-word orthography, in essence what the total word looks like. Not surprisingly, this happens more quickly and more strongly with high frequency words. In any given connected text sample, most of the words, by definition, will be high-frequency words. This is why 7H15, in the right font, can be read as THIS; because given figures that look enough like the letters, particularly the first and last letters of the word, the mind of a fluid reader can pick out the word from his or her mental lexicon almost as if s/he were recognizing a shape or picture.

For those who are struggling to read the letter/number jumble text, try de-focusing your eyes. If you blur the image your brain receives to the right degree, your mind will stop seeing the details of the symbols and instead process their general shape. You may find that in this way, you are no longer distracted by the erroneous details of a 7 instead of T or 5 instead of S, but retain enough of the overall orthographic information of each form to access the word in your lexicon via it’s gestalt or picture.

You may also notice that the multi-syllabic words, words that we are more likely to sound out a bit, really slow your reading down. They are less frequent words and longer forms and not nearly as over-learned as the short, high-frequency words. The question of whether more distractible individuals have a more difficult time with this exercise because of the misleading details of some of the letter/numbers, is a good one. My guess is there’s research out there to suggest an answer. But I don’t know it.

OK, I’ll get off my soapbox. This is what graduate studies in learning disabilities and cognitive development can do to a person. At least I didn’t write it out using numbers!

Abram Doane, MA, JD
ADDult Coaching