Dyslexia

Definition:
Dyslexia comes from the Greek language meaning ‘difficulty with words’. It is a broad term defining a learning disability that impairs a person’s fluency or comprehension accuracy in being able to read, speak, and spell, and which can manifest itself as a difficulty with phonological awareness, phonological decoding, orthographic coding, auditory short-term memory, and/or rapid naming. Dyslexia is separate and distinct from reading difficulties resulting from other causes, such as a non-neurological deficiency with vision or hearing, or from poor or inadequate reading instruction. It is believed that dyslexia can affect between 5 to 10 percent of a given population although there have been no studies to indicate an accurate percentage.

There are three proposed cognitive subtypes of dyslexia: auditory, visual and attentional. Although dyslexia is not an intellectual disability, it is considered both a learning disability and a reading disability. Dyslexia and IQ are not interrelated, since reading and cognition develop independently in individuals who have dyslexia.

Accomplished adult dyslexics may be able to read with good comprehension, but they tend to read more slowly than non-dyslexics, and may perform more poorly at nonsense word reading (a measure of phonological awareness), and spelling.

Dyslexia usually occurs in children with normal vision and normal intelligence. Children with dyslexia usually have normal speech, but may have difficulty interpreting spoken language and writing.

Dyslexia can go undetected in the early grades of schooling. The child can become frustrated by the difficulty in learning to read, and other problems can arise that disguise dyslexia. The child may show signs of depression and low self-esteem. Behavior problems at home as well as at school are frequently seen. The child may become unmotivated and develop a dislike for school. The child’s success in school may be jeopardized if the problem remains untreated.

Children with dyslexia need individualized tutoring, and treatment for dyslexia often involves a multisensory education program. Emotional support of your child on your part also plays an important role.

 

Symptoms:
The symptoms of dyslexia vary according to the severity of the disorder as well as the age of the individual.

Once your child is in school, dyslexia symptoms may become more apparent, including:

*Reading at a level well below the expected level for the age of your child
*Problems processing and understanding what he or she hears
*Difficulty comprehending rapid instructions
*Trouble following more than one command at a time
*Problems remembering the sequence of things
*Difficulty seeing (and occasionally hearing) similarities and differences in letters and words
*An inability to sound out the pronunciation of an unfamiliar word
*Seeing letters or words in reverse (b for d or saw for was) — although seeing words or letters in reverse is common for children younger than 8 who don’t have dyslexia, children with dyslexia will continue to see reversals past that age
*Difficulty spelling
*Trouble learning a foreign language

Causes:
Dyslexia is caused by differences in the areas of the brain that deal with language, which aren’t yet fully understood.

Several areas in the brain interact in a complex way to coordinate the manipulation of words needed for reading, writing and spelling, so the features of any one person’s dyslexia will depend on which areas are affected and how.

There may be problems, for example, receiving sensory information through vision or hearing, holding it or structuring it in the brain, or retrieving it later, or there may be problems with the speed of processing information.

Brain-imaging scans show that when dyslexic people try to process information their brains work differently to those without dyslexia. This has nothing to do with intellect – people with dyslexia show a normal range of intelligence.

Inherited or genetic factors are important in dyslexia and other family members are often affected.

Complications:
Your child’s inability to read well may not affect achievement in other school subjects, such as arithmetic. However, because reading is a skill basic to most other school subjects, a child who has dyslexia is at a great disadvantage in most classes and may have trouble learning.

Left untreated, dyslexia may lead to low self-esteem, behavioral problems, anxiety, delinquency, aggression, and withdrawal or alienation from friends, parents and teachers. The degree to which these problems develop may relate to the severity of the condition.

Diagnosis:
Dyslexia diagnosis involves an evaluation of medical, cognitive, sensory-processing, educational and psychological factors. Your doctor may ask about your child’s developmental and medical history as well as your family medical history.

Doctor may also suggest that your child undergo:

*Vision, hearing and neurological evaluations. These evaluations can help determine whether another disorder may be causing or contributing to your child’s poor reading ability.

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*A psychological assessment. This can help determine whether social problems, anxiety or depression may be limiting your child’s abilities.

*An evaluation of educational skills. Your child may take a set of educational tests and have the process and quality of his or her reading skills analyzed by an expert.

Treatment:
There is no cure for dyslexia, but dyslexic individuals can learn to read and write with appropriate educational support.

Especially for undergraduates, some consideration of what ‘reading’ is and what it is for can be useful. There are techniques (reading the first sentence [and/or last] of each paragraph in a chapter, for example) which can give an overview of content. This can be sufficient for some purposes. Since stress and anxiety are contributors to a dyslexic’s weaknesses in absorbing information, removing these can assist in improving understanding. When a dyslexic knows that not every reading experience must be onerous, it greatly helps their mental approach to the task.

The best approaches acknowledge that the objective in helping to improve a dyslexic’s ‘reading’ is not to ‘read-like-a-non-dyslexic-does’, but to find a way of extracting information from text that works efficiently for someone who processes such information differently from the majority.

For alphabet writing systems the fundamental aim is to increase a child’s awareness of correspondences between graphemes and phonemes, and to relate these to reading and spelling. It has been found that training focused towards visual language and orthographic issues yields longer-lasting gains than mere oral phonological training.

The best form of approach is determined by the underlying neurological cause(s) of the dyslexic symptoms.

Context sensitive spell checkers combined with text-to-speech systems offer forms of assistive technology to dyslexia users, supporting reading and writing.

Recent research suggests that adaptive working memory training using a program called Jungle Memory was effective in boosting IQ, working memory, and literacy scores in students with dyslexia.

Fast ForWord software, which works on auditory processing, working memory and other aspects of dyslexia has also been successful in helping dyslexia.

Other approaches can help, too. In cases linked to visual differences, coloured overlays and lenses can lead to improvement because they may stop the letters from ‘dancing on the page’ (a common complaint).

Coping and support:-
Emotional support and opportunities for achievement in activities that don’t involve reading are important for children with dyslexia.

If your child has dyslexia:

*Be supportive. Having difficulty learning to read may affect your child’s self-esteem. Be sure to provide love and to support his or her talents and strengths.

*Talk to your child. Explain to your child what dyslexia is and that it’s not a failure on his or her part. The better your child understands this, the more likely he or she will cope with and compensate for this learning disability.

*Take steps at home to make it easier for your child to study. Provide a clean, quiet, organized place for your child to study, and designate a study time. Also, make sure your child gets enough rest, good nutrition and family support — through outings and activities — to provide a better environment in which he or she can learn.

*Work with your child’s school. Talk with teachers frequently to make sure your child is able to stay on track. Be sure your child gets extra time for tests that require reading, if needed. Ask your child’s teacher if it would help your child to record the day’s lessons to playback later. If available, tutoring sessions with a reading-disorders specialist can be very helpful for many children with dyslexia.

You may also want to consider joining a support group to stay in contact with parents who face similar learning disabilities in their children. Belonging to a support group can provide you with both good information and emotional support. Check with your doctor or your child’s reading specialist to find out if there are any support groups in your area.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

Resources:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/physical_health/conditions/dyslexia2.shtml
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dyslexia
http://www.medicinenet.com/dyslexia/article.htm
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dyslexia/DS00224

http://www.readinghorizons.com/research/dyslexia/information.aspx

http://www.causesdyslexia.net/dyslexia-biological-cause/

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