What is Dyslexia?
The following is the research definition of dyslexia used by the National Institutes of Health and the International Dyslexia Association (Nov. 12, 2002):
"Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition, and by poor spelling and decoding abilities.
These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge."
Dyslexia is not an indicator of low intelligence. In fact, people with dyslexia posses at least average intelligence, and most often surpass such a standard.
TYPES OF DYSLEXIA
There are three main types of dyslexia; each has its own symptoms and causes:
- Dyseidetic Dyslexia
Associated with differential brain functions located in the Angular Gyrus of the left pariental lobe of the brain, a person suffering from this will have poor sight-word recognition, contributing to an overall slow and laborious reading experience. Irregular words are both sounded out phonetically (laugh = log) and spelled phonetically (ready = rede). Dyseidetic Dyslexics often are more advanced in reading than in spelling.
- Dysphonetic Dyslexia
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 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.
- Dysphoneidetic Dyslexia
A type of dyslexia 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, and is often the most difficult to treat.
MYTHS ABOUT DYSLEXIA
Dyslexia is often misunderstood and there are plenty of myths surrounding its understanding.
- If a person is unable to read it means that (s)he has a low I.Q.
Dyslexics are persons with average to above average I.Q.'s, and are unable to read commensurate with their intelligence level. When a client is tested in our clinic for dyslexia, the first test given is an I.Q. test. Slow learners are not dyslexic.
- Dyslexia cannot be diagnosed.
There are several tests that help determine whether a person is dyslexic or not. In addition, some of these tests will determine the level of severity and the KIND of dyslexia present.
- Children under the age of 9 cannot be diagnosed with dyslexia.
There are several tests on the market at the present time for diagnosing dyslexia as early as 4 years of age. However, we term these early diagnoses as 'at risk' for dyslexia until the child is six months into their second grade of education.
- Dyslexia is much more common in boys than in girls.
New research has shown that there are as many girls as boys with dyslexia. Boys are often easier to recognize in the classroom setting as they are more demonstrative than girls are and are more easily observed by the classroom teacher. Girls tend to be more quiet and submissive and are often overlooked.
- Children who experience reading, writing, and spelling difficulties in grades 1 through 3 almost always outgrow them.
Early problems with letter recognition, letter sounds, and letter writing are signs of dyslexia. If your child seemed bright before entering school, and is experiencing difficulties with early reading instruction, have him/her tested for dyslexia. These problems, if left untreated, mushroom into major reading/comprehension problems. In addition, spelling and writing may be affected. When helping a dyslexic child, an early diagnosis and clinical therapy will prevent a loss of self-esteem, many hours of homework struggle at home, and future struggles in learning to read.
- When a child has difficulties in reading, writing, and spelling, holding him/her back a grade will help him/her mature and become more ready to read.
Probably the worst thing you could do to a dyslexic child is retain them! As mentioned before, these children have average to above average intelligence and will suffer tragic loss of self-esteem when they 'fail' a grade. Rather, we suggest you obtain a diagnosis of dyslexia for the child, and make classroom modifications for him/her.