If you have no idea what something looks like, you probably wouldn’t recognize it even if it was right there in front of you. You might not even notice it, right? But, if somehow it does attract your attention, you’d probably identify it as something you’re already familiar with, or try to explain it with what’s already known to you. We want an explanation for why things exist, even if that means inventing one!
Now, imagine – You see a “normal”, bright kid struggling with such a simple thing as reading.
How can that be?
If you have never heard of dyslexia, you might be tempted to call this kid “lazy”, “stubborn” or “not as bright as you thought they were”. You might think that the parents are being too soft and need to push the child to do better in school.
So, what is dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability. When you have dyslexia, your brain needs more time and energy for some of the processes many would say come “naturally” or “automatically”. Matching the letters on a page with the sounds that those letters and combinations of letters make is one of those things. People who have dyslexia experience difficulties with skills such as spelling, writing, and pronouncing words.
Who said reading was easy?
Nobody is born with the ability to read. (Obviously!) It is an activity that requires a lot from our brain, which needs to be able to focus on the letters, put them into words, then the words into sentences, and link the sentences into paragraphs so that we can read them – and only then, understand the content of what we’re reading. So, when you see the letters D, O, G connected, your brain needs to pick up the letters, connect those letters to specific sounds and then read the word “dog” and also comprehend that the word on the paper is a symbol for a cheerful, four-legged animal that loves playing “fetch” with you.
So – reading is NOT easy, even though many think it is.
What causes dyslexia?
We’re still trying to figure out what’s actually going on in the brain. Anatomical and brain imaging studies show differences in the development and functioning of the brain in a person with dyslexia. What we know for sure is that most people with dyslexia have problems with identifying the separate speech sounds within a word. Understanding how the letters represent speech sounds seems to be the key factor in reading difficulties. What’s important to know is that this learning disability has nothing to do with how intelligent you are.
What are the risk factors for dyslexia?
People with dyslexia have, in many cases, experienced difficulties with learning to speak, difficulties with differentiating the sounds in speech, difficulties in learning letters, organizing spoken language, memorizing words, etc.
Also, the parents of dyslexic students tend to report delays in reaching common milestones of childhood, such as learning to crawl or walk or ride a bike.
What are the typical signs of dyslexia?
Depending on the age, dyslexia can be spotted through a variety of signs.
We’ll outline some of the most common ones.
- Difficulty learning new words
- Difficulty guessing a word based on its description
- Difficulty recognizing whether two words rhyme
- Difficulty in pronunciation of familiar words
- Difficulty sounding out unfamiliar words
- Difficulty remembering multi-step instructions
- Difficulty remembering the order in which things appear in a story
- Difficulty structuring the answer about how the day went or how something happened
- A child does not use as many words as peers do
- A child tends to mix up words that sound familiar
- A child tends to struggle to organize a story chronologically
- Difficulty learning letters (and writing them)
- Difficulty differentiating similar letters both in writing and reading (like b and d)
- Difficulty recognizing which letters produce which sound
- Stalling while reading; guessing a word based on the first two letters
- Difficulty isolating the middle sound of a word
- Difficulty recognizing the spelling of a word
- The student quickly forgets how to spell the words he reads
- Struggles with word problems in math
- Difficulty remembering the key elements of a story
- The student focuses so much on the reading itself that he fails to remember and comprehend what he has read
- Makes a lot of spelling errors
- Avoids all assignments that require reading
- Takes a lot of time to finish homework that requires reading
- Gets nervous while reading
- The student reads at a lower academic level than they speak
- The student tends to re-read sentences to be able to comprehend them
- The student tends to forget what he has read
- When reading, the student often makes pauses with “um” or filler words
There’s more to dyslexia than you’d think
Not being able to read and write at the same level as your peers can significantly affect how you see yourself. The peer group tends to mock the student who isn’t able to do things they do with ease. That is why it is extremely important to pay attention to how the student is feeling and how he sees himself.
The students with dyslexia tend to think “out of the box”. They are creative and innovative.
These are the strengths that any person working with a student with dyslexia should capitalize on.
What to do if you suspect that your child has dyslexia
- Consult with the experts – speech therapists and psychologists. They will do all the necessary testing to see whether the student has dyslexia.
- If it turns out that your student does have dyslexia, do not despair. There are many successful people who have this diagnosis. With proper treatment, you can help your child succeed in school. Just make sure you contact professionals on time.
If you need any kind of advice related to dyslexia, you’ve come to the right place!
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