Dyslexia is more common than you may think. The International Dyslexia
Association (IDA) is the foremost authority on dyslexia. It maintains that 15–20% of the population has a language-based learning disability. And that of the students with specific learning disabilities receiving special education services, 70–80% have deficits in reading.
Although it usually involves a struggle with reading and writing tasks, there are often misconceptions surrounding dyslexia. Many wrongly think that it involves an eye problem, that it signifies a below-average IQ, or that it always means that a person only has difficulty with reading and writing.
Children with dyslexia have trouble identifying the separate speech sounds within a word and/or learning how letters represent those sounds. Unfortunately, these abilities are key to learning to read and write. It’s important to remember, too, that dyslexia is not due to either a lack of intelligence or a desire to learn. Indeed, a child cannot have a lower than average IQ and be accurately diagnosed as dyslexic.
IDA maintains that people with dyslexia have trouble acquiring and using language. Some problems most dyslexics might experience include:
■ Learning to speak
■ Organizing written and spoken language
■ Learning letters and their sounds
■ Learning a foreign language
■ Lengthy-time dedicated to homework
According to IDA, “Signs of dyslexia in young, preschool children include talking later than expected, a slowness to add new words, difficulty rhyming, and trouble following multi-step directions.” After a child begins school, the signs of dyslexia include:
■ Difficulty reading single words, such as a single word on a flashcard
■ Difficulty learning the connection between letters and sounds, and phonics
■ Confusing small words, such as at and to
■ Letter reversals, such as d for b
■ Word reversals, such as tip for pit
“Having one of these signs does not mean your child has dyslexia; many children reverse letters before the age of seven. But, if several signs exist and reading problems persist, or if you have a family history of dyslexia, you may want to have your child evaluated,” IDA informs us.
Dyslexia is usually initially suspected by the classroom teacher when academic performance is affected. The child may fall behind as assignments become more complex. Although dyslexia is neurological or related to the way the brain functions, it is not related to mental retardation, intellectual ability, or visual impairments.
Types of Dyslexia
Dyseidetic – is associated with differential brain functions located in the Angular Gyrus of the left parietal lobe of the brain. A person suffering from this type of dyslexia will have poor sight-word recognition, contributing to an overall slow and laborious reading experience and have the most difficulty with spelling (often spelling words phonetically).
Dysphonetic – is associated with differential brain functions located in the Wernicke’s Area of the left temporal and parietal lobes of the brain. A person suffering from this type of dyslexia relies on sight recognition to read, being unable to sound out unknown words. During reading, words are either known or not known and are often substituted or skipped when trouble arises. Words are learned by rote memorization and cannot be spelled by their sound. Ear infections can cause some problems.
Dysphoneidetic – is associated with a combination of differential brain functions in the Angular Gyrus and the Wernicke’s Area. A person suffering from this type of dyslexia will have weak visual-motor skills, have a combination of dyseidetic and
dysphonetic symptoms, and is often the most difficult to treat.
“If your child is struggling in school, you need to find out why. Under federal law, you can request from the principal that the school evaluates your child,” informs Dr. Larry Silver, a child and adolescent psychiatrist and clinical professor of psychiatry and director of training in child and adolescent psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine. When students continue to struggle with literacy skills despite the provision of additional high-quality expert instruction using Response to Intervention (RTI) / Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS), a formal clinical evaluation is needed to determine if they have dyslexia. Assessment of dyslexia involves individual testing, most often provided by a team of qualified professionals who have had extensive clinical training in assessment as part of a graduate degree program. Professional clinicians who assess Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) and dyslexia may have M.A., M.S., M.Ed., Ed.D., or Ph.D. degrees in education, reading, speech language pathology, school psychology, psychology, or neuropsychology.
There are two main ways the school can help with dyslexia. “One is specific remedial intervention, which should be done by someone trained in the field who helps the child with what he has trouble learning. The second is accommodations like the teacher going over a worksheet to make sure the child understands the instructions,” explains Silver. Other accommodations may include recorded books, permission to record the teacher’s instructions to the class, and extra time on exams. Your child does not have to suffer. “With the right help, he can learn to compensate for the problem and move ahead,” assures Silver.
Some children may go to therapy, which incorporates the following strategies:
■ Blending sounds
■ Becoming aware of phonemes
■ Practicing listening, reading, writing, and speaking
■ Mastering sound associations
■ Using new elements while reinforcing ones that were previously taught
■ Repeating skills until comprehension is achieved
Having a learning disability can affect a child socially and emotionally. His self-esteem may be negatively affected, such that he will feel stupid. He may be bullied or called lazy if the diagnosis is not made. Behavioral problems can develop as a result. Be sure that you act as your child’s best advocate. You have more control over his academic success and overall sense of well being than you may imagine. Try to control your feelings. The diagnosis of dyslexia often comes as a shock to parents. The child very often knows something is wrong and is relieved to finally give it an identity. Remember that you should be on your child’s team. Having and helping a dyslexic child can be either a very positive experience, or a completely negative one, depending on how you as a parent handle the situation. #