Friday, November 6, 2009

Fast Fact Friday: Automaticity

Automaticity is one of those words that exists in the special education world, but outside that community most people have never heard of it. Generally, automaticity refers to the ability of the brain to perform a skills or complex task or behavior easily and with little attention, effort or conscious awareness.
Skills and tasks become automatic with training, repetition and practice. Once automaticity is achieved, the brain can accomplish these tasks quickly and easily, without utilizing a lot of working memory.
The clearest example of achieving automaticity is in the area of reading. When a child is first learning to read, he/she must actively engage the brain to decode the words, deciphering the sounds, blending them together, etc. The process of actually decoding the word and "sounding it out" is laborious. As the child has extended periods of practice, and good instruction in reading, decoding and word recognition become automatic, meaning that the child is able to read more quickly, and to engage the brain to think about the meaning of the word rather than using all of the brain power to sound out or decode the word. Automaticity is necessary to improve fluency.

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