Understanding Dyslexia in Children
Posted: May 12, 2022
Dyslexia is a common learning and reading disorder that can affect 5% or more of children and can sometimes get through to adulthood before being diagnosed. Typically, those with dyslexia have difficulty reading and spelling in the absence of any clear reason for the issue. They have normal intelligence and have no trouble achieving well in other areas. The word ‘dyslexia’ is Greek, meaning difficulty with words. A lot of very well-known people have dyslexia, and it was not any impairment to them achieving what they achieved. Some of these people include Richard Branson, Tom Cruise and Leonardo da Vinci. The diagnosis of dyslexia exists on a continuum which can make it in a number cases hard to detect. Not all of signs and symptoms can be apparent in all of those with it. The cause of dyslexia is still largely unknown. It is present at birth and has a genetic component. The evidence is that they use different parts of the cerebral cortex when reading. There is no specific diagnostic test for dyslexia and the diagnosis is based on a number of types of assessments, reading skills, vision and hearing testing, comparison to developmental milestones and psychological testing.
Typical features in preschoolers are speech development is delayed; they are slow learning new words; have problems with pronunciation of many words; they may have a problem telling stories with the correct sequence of events. In primary school children when reading skills should be developing they often confuse letters when writing, mixing up, for example ‘d’ with a ‘b’ or ‘m’ with a ‘w’; they will often write some words backwards; they hate reading and will make an effort to avoid reading aloud in class; they read below their expected level for their age; they can pronounce basic syllables but struggle more with polysyllabic words. For high school children, they have poor reading and spelling skills and they are slow with their writing skills; they tend to have a difficulty summarizing a story and find learning a foreign language is difficult. For those adults with dyslexia, they have problems with reading and spelling; they don’t like reading books; they avoid writing tasks, especially in their employment; they typically have a better than average memory and often may be very talented in some other fields such as mathematics or art.
There is no known cure for dyslexia, but there are plenty of approaches and support to help them develop reading and learning skills. Often specialist tutoring will be provided and use a phonics-based reading program so that the links between spoken and written words can be established. Other approaches using different senses such as seeing, listening and doing can be used. There are a number of online programs that are designed to facilitate reading skills. Accommodations within the learning environment at school is often required. Older students at high school and university will usually be granted extra time for assessments such as exams if they are needed. Specific text fonts have been developed which are supposed to help reading, but the research evidence does not support this.
Craig Payne is a University lecturer, runner, cynic, researcher, skeptic, forum admin, woo basher, clinician, rabble-rouser, blogger and a dad.