What is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a learning difficulty which hinders ability towards reading or spelling.
This disorder makes it difficult for someone to marry up letters with the appropriate interpretation. However it doesn’t mean people with dyslexia are any less intelligent, they are often very innovative and great at problem solving.
Doctors find it difficult to pinpoint the exact cause for dyslexia. However it’s believed connections with certain genes passed down from parent to child. Premature or low birth weight could also have an impact. (1)
It’s estimated around five to 10 percent of the school children in the US have dyslexia. (2)
Most people are diagnosed with dyslexia in the early years of life, when they begin school. However it is possible to develop the disorder following brain damage caused by illness or injury. (3)
Dyslexia can be a challenge to live with, especially when the child first becomes aware something isn’t right.
Regardless of intellect, a person with dyslexia is often seen reading a sentence several times before understanding its contents. The disorder causes them to read and write slower than their classmates and they will often get the order of letters and words mixed up.
It’s not uncommon for a person with dyslexia to have another condition such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or dyscalculia, which is a difficulty with numbers. (4)
The person might have an impaired short-term memory and a difficulty organizing and meeting deadlines.
People with dyslexia face a daily challenge, but it’s important to be able to recognize the signs. This learning condition can be improved with early intervention and the right management.
At times, indication of dyslexia can present even before the child begins school. (5)
It could be the child offers little acknowledgement or understanding of nursery rhymes or rhyming words in general. They could also lack interest in learning letters and new words.
They may show difficulty in communicating their emotions or needs in words. Delayed speech can be an early sign, although this can also have other causes.
When trying to repeat a story the order of the content might get muddled up which could change the entire context. (6)
Additionally, dyslexic children might mix up letters in a sentence. For example they could say “beddy tear” instead of “teddy bear”. Shapes and colors may also be hard to master.
A child of school age may find it difficult to understand how words are made up in relation to sounds (phonological awareness). They might struggle to comprehend how changing the sound can alter the word and its meaning. (7)
They might also not be able to make sense of a new word the first time they read it. Normally a child would breakdown a longer word and look for familiar words within it, yet a child with dyslexia doesn’t always have that skill set.
Other signs can include: reading or writing slowly and making mistakes when reading aloud. They may appear to perform well under verbal questions, but struggle when they’re required to be written down.
Writing letters or numbers the wrong way around, inconsistent spelling and trouble picking up the name and sound of letters are other common symptoms.
Teenage and Adulthood
As a child grows up many of the signs will appear the same as those for younger school children.
However, there will be the addition of: difficulties writing and planning papers, preparing for an exam or poor spelling. This could also lay foundations for he/she to avoid reading and writing all together. (8)
Another sign could be that papers or assignments lack a form of expression. Even though the person is fully aware of all the details, they may find it a challenge to express it in words.
People with dyslexia can also find it difficult to meet deadlines as well as remembering important numbers and codes.
Dyslexia is determined by the severity of it’s symptoms. It could either be: mild, moderate, severe or profound. (9)
Healthcare professionals will determine the severity of dyslexia through an assessment of results from different tests evaluating reading, writing and spelling skills.
In the past the disorder was believed to be associated with low intelligence quotient (IQ). However, it has since been proven IQ levels do not indicate whether someone has dyslexia or not. (10)
Level #1 (Mild)
Children or adults with mild dyslexia may not show many difficulties in reading and writing skills. The person might struggle with punctuation and spelling, but can still follow other classmates.
Level #2 (Moderate)
Difficulty with different learning skills becomes more apparent and they may have trouble reading textbooks, therefore risk falling behind in class.
Level #3 (Severe)
A person with severe dyslexia might find reading and writing almost impossible. It takes longer to finish papers or reports compared to other classmates or co-workers. This could lead to low self esteem or other issues. (11)
Level #4 (Profound)
This is the most severe level of dyslexia. The person is likely to need extensive assistance and special treatment around school in order to pass class. Self esteem levels may drop even further.
However, they may perform better verbally or with the help of technology.
Children with dyslexia have a high chance of developing a severe anxiety disorder if intervention is not instigated. Some will even develop frustration and anger problems, which long term can lead to depression and social isolation. (12)
There is no cure for dyslexia, yet it can be managed with a specialized educational environment.
Treatment aims to motivate and help the child read and write. Here we detail the various approaches of managing dyslexia:
There are different types of interventions when it comes to dyslexia and as a rule, early diagnosis increases chances of a better outcome. (13)
These can involve a smaller class with a specialized teacher or a private class where tutoring is based around “one-to-one”.
Educational interventions will focus on making improvements where it’s needed. In most cases it revolves around improving phonological skills, such as being able to detect the sound structure of a word or letter. (14)
The child is made to feel at ease and encouraged to ask questions when further explanation is required.
Multisensory teaching is another technique. This can be described as where the child is actively supported to see, hear and act out a specific letter, enlightening the senses which can improve learning. (15)
Educational involvement is deemed most successful if it’s repeated, taken in small steps and is kept as structural as possible.
Teachers can also assist by giving the student extra time to finish assignments. Arranging for certain exams or tests to be taken verbally as opposed to written will also help. (16)
Parents play a crucial role in helping their child improve reading and writing skills, as well as boosting their self confidence.
Helping your child read books and tell stories, play word games such as “i spy”. Make learning fun while encouraging them to read on their own. (17)
Repetition is another great tool to use. Children in general benefit from reading the same book more than once, it strengthens their understanding and helps them grasp the meaning of the text. (18)
The use of technology has provided help for people with dyslexia in many ways. Older students may use a computer program rather than a book, such as text-to-speech or one which translates a spoken assignment into a written.
For many adults with dyslexia, it’s important to let the people around you know you have the condition. This will make sure certain measures can be put in place to ensure a pleasant work environment.
This can include: specialized technology to help with reading and writing, receiving verbal instructions and flexible deadlines. (19)
What is dyslexia? Dyslexia is a learning disorder affecting reading and writing skills.
What are the signs of dyslexia? Dyslexia can show as a lack of interest in learning the alphabet or words. In smaller children it could be a lack of understanding nursery rhymes. In general, people with dyslexia will read and write slower and spell inconsistently.
How do you develop dyslexia? The exact cause is unknown, but connections have linked specific genes causing a glitch in the early development process. Other situations point towards development due to an illness or accident which affects the brain. (20, 21)
How are you diagnosed for dyslexia? A specialist will evaluate the child’s different skill levels, including: thinking, vocabulary, memory, reading, intelligence, comprehension and the ability to use and produce language. (22)
What is the best treatment of dyslexia? There’s no specific treatment, yet there are ways to improve symptoms, this can include: educational intervention, teaching the child how to use words, repetitive lessons and encouragement.
What are the long term complications of dyslexia? Many people with dyslexia develop anxiety disorders, anger and frustration due to low self esteem during school years. If this remains untreated it could progress into depression. (23)
Is dyslexia considered a disability? No, it is considered a learning difficulty. Dyslexia does not affect the level of intelligence, nor does it necessarily affect any physical abilities. (24)
Is there any cure for dyslexia? No, dyslexia can only be managed and improved, but it’s with you for life.
Is dyslexia life threatening? The condition in itself is not considered to be fatal.
Dyslexia is a learning difficulty which can affect anyone. Many children are born with the disorder and signs can materialize even before they start school.
Typical indicators of dyslexia are struggles with reading and spelling, others may have severe difficulty making sense of written words.
This condition can be a challenge for parents and children alike. It puts demands on time and care, however it’s important not to forget, many people with dyslexia are highly intelligent and thrive in other aspects of life. (25)