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What You Need To Know About Dyslexia

Dyslexia is a common learning disorder characterised by impaired reading ability with a competence level below what is expected on the basis of the person’s level of intelligence, and in the presence of normal vision, letter recognition and recognition of the meaning of pictures and objects.

In 1896, a doctor in Sussex, England published the first description of the learning disorder that would come to be known as developmental dyslexia. Most children with dyslexia can succeed in school with tutoring or a specialised education program. Emotional support also plays an important role. While people with dyslexia are often slow readers, they often, paradoxically are very fast and creative thinkers with strong reasoning abilities.

The following are some of the "strengths" that individuals with dyslexia may display:

  • Inquisitive mind
  • Problem-solving
  • Comprehending new ideas
  • Generating ideas
  • Analytic thinking
  • Creative thinking
  • 3-D construction
  • Finding different strategies
  • Seeing the big picture
  • Insightful thinking

What Causes Dyslexia?

The exact cause of dyslexia is unknown, but it often appears to run in families. In people with dyslexia, it is thought that certain genes inherited from parents may act together in a way that affects how some parts of the brain may develop during early life. 

Some risk factors for dyslexia include:

  • Premature birth or low birth weight.
  • Exposure during pregnancy to nicotine, drugs, alcohol or infection that may alter brain development in the fetus.
  • A family history of dyslexia or other learning disabilities.
  • Individual differences in parts of the brain that enable reading.

What Are The Symptoms of Dyslexia?

Signs of dyslexia may be difficult to recognise before your child enters school. Once your child reaches school age, the teacher may be the first to notice a problem. Childhood symptoms of dyslexia include:

  • Difficulty in learning to read
  • Some children may learn to walk, talk, ride a bicycle later than the majority of others
  • Delayed speech developments
  • Slow at learning sets of data
  • Coordination
  • The child may confuse “left” and “right”
  • Poor spelling
  • Autoimmune conditions such as hay fever, asthma, eczema and other allergies

When dyslexia goes undiagnosed and untreated, childhood reading difficulties continue into adulthood.

How Is Dyslexia Diagnosed?

If a parent, guardian or teacher suspects that a child may have dyslexia, a professional evaluation should be carried out on the child. Early diagnosis is more likely to lead to an effective intervention.

They may become eligible for special education services, support programs and services in college and universities.

What Is The Treatment For Dyslexia?

Discovering that your child has dyslexia allows you to pursue treatment that can help. There are no medications for dyslexia, but medication can be a treatment for other issues that co-occur with dyslexia. These include Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), anxiety and depression.

Kids with dyslexia need a specialised instruction in reading. A number of reading programs are designed with helping kids with dyslexia. Many of these are based on an approach called Orton-Gillingham.

Orton-Gillingham pioneered the “multisensory” approach to help struggling readers by explicitly teaching the connections between letters and sounds. The first step is assessing a student to determine his reading skills and areas of strength and weakness. Students are then taught in small groups with others at similar skill levels. Instructors follow a highly structured approach that teaches skills in a particular order. This order is based on an understanding of how children naturally develop language.

There are a number of reading programs influenced by the Orton-Gillingham approach which include; Barton Reading Program and The Wilson Reading System.

It is important to know what program your child’s school uses and how different programs work. That knowledge can help you see if the school is meeting program goals. It will also give you a better idea of how to help your child at home.


Article By: Foluso Akinwande