Congenital word blindness
Dyslexia is a specific learning disability in which a child's ability to read and write falls below their level of intelligence. A child of adequate intelligence may be considered dyslexic if they have major persistent difficulties with reading, writing, spelling or arithmetic which prevent these aspects of their school work reflecting ability in other spheres.
People with dyslexia may have a history of late speech and language development, certain problems connected to sight and hearing and difficulty in remembering series and sequences. In addition, they may exhibit below-average control of the major muscles and manipulation, and problems in discerning left from right.
However, the condition is not related to intelligence and overall ability to learn is not impaired. Dyslexia affects boys about four times as often as girls. Approximately 1:10 children suffers from some degree of dyslexia.
What causes dyslexia?
The exact cause is not known. It is thought to result from a defect in the brain's ability to organize graphic symbols.
How is dyslexia diagnosed and treated?
The first step is to have the child properly examined to make sure the reading disability is not the result of visual or auditory problems or due to emotional distress. This emotional element is difficult to rule out as the child may be distressed precisely because of their own learning difficulties.
Once dyslexia is diagnosed, specialist tutoring using a structured multi-sensory technique is necessary to enable the pupil to realize full potential. Teachers should be made aware of the problem and discouraged from penalizing the child for making spelling mistakes.
Dyslexia can be overcome with early diagnosis and appropriate remedial training. Long-term educational difficulties are usually the result of the problem not being diagnosed and the child being discouraged and made to feel inadequate. Look for areas in which the child excels. For example, a dyslexic child may be gifted at maths or music.
Many dyslexics are able to overcome their disability faster than they are able to get rid of the emotional troubles that may have arisen from feelings of inadequacy Dyslexia can also make it difficult for a child to realize their full educational potential.
What can I do myself?
The best thing you can do for your child is to be patient with any difficulty in reading and help the youngster understand that
it is not their fault. With diligent application and special teaching techniques, most children with dyslexia can come to enjoy their reading.
Dyslexics tend to remain poor spellers throughout their lives, even though they are able to achieve normal and even above average reading levels. Using a typewriter or computer can help overcome difficulties in writing. Many schools and public examination boards offer dyslexic examines special arrangements such as oral examinations and extra time to read question papers.
- A bright child has difficulty reading simple, common words.
- The same word is spelt in several different ways.
- Letter groups are reversed; for example, was for saw.
- Single letters reversed; such as p for b, or mirror image of a letter written.
- Difficulty in seeing that a word is wrongly spelt, even when this is pointed out.
- There may be a difficulty telling left from right.
- about four times as often as girls. Approximately 1:10 children suffers from some degree of dyslexia.
When should I see my doctor?
You should arrange for your doctor to refer your child to a clinical psychologist who is familiar with learning difficulties if, after school entry, difficulty in the following areas continues longer than usual:
- Writing their name.
- Copying letters or shapes with a pencil or with bricks.
- Coping with buttons, bows and other fine tasks.
- Repeating digits.
- Speech development.
- Clumsiness in walking and other activities.
What will the doctor do?
The doctor may refer your child to the orthopedic and audiology departments of the nearest general hospital to check the child's sight and hearing. If these are found to be normal, referral to a clinical psychologist will normally be the next step. The psychologist may ask the child to take part in various diagnostic tests. The results will indicate whether the difficulties are due to dyslexia or to a different learning disability
Can dyslexia be an adult problem?
Yes. Many sufferers hide their problems when at school and, as adults, continue to avoid activities which involve reading and writing. They should be reassured that sympathetic support at an adult level is available and that real progress is possible, given professional help.
Is dyslexia dangerous?
No. The major problems are emotional ones which arise from frustration and low self-esteem.
As well as your school or doctor, the following organization can offer information and referral to a local support group for both children and adults: