Battling Dyslexia

Most of our formative years is spent in school learning some form of educational tool to enrich the survival kit. Far from being a means to an end - that is to learn an occupation to win the bread - education has become an end within itself. Children these days are akin to racehorses with higher and higher grades being the Derby. Imagine a child in this scenario, unable to run the race - in fact sometimes unable to decipher what the race is. This is not a night mare situation but a reality. Statistics reveal that 25% of children between the ages of 2-10 display dyslexic symptoms and by the age of 15 nearly 10% are dyslexic.

What is Dyslexia?

'Dys' means 'difficulty' and 'lexia 'means 'words'. Dyslexia is a disorder that affects millions of people all over the world. It is one type of specific learning disability that affects a person's ability to read. 

A Dyslexic learns at his/her own level and pace, and typically excels in one or more other areas. Some of their problem areas include difficulties with concentration, perception, memory, verbal skills, abstract reasoning, hand-eye coordination, social adjustment (low self-esteem is a commonly observed behavioral characteristic), poor grades, and underachievement. Often, people with Dyslexia are considered to be lazy, rebellious, class clowns, unmotivated, misfits, or of low intelligence. These misconceptions, without understanding dyslexia's effect on the person's life, lead to rejection, isolation, feelings of inferiority, discouragement, and low self-esteem. A closer look at most of the underachievers in the class might reveal that they are not how they are out of choice rather because they just are made that way. A little bit of empathy and understanding might go a long way in making their life easier. What they need around them is a support circle of friends and family who understand them and accept them for what they are.

The following extract from International Dyslexia association might throw more light on the disability

"Dyslexia is one of several distinct learning disabilities. It is a specific language-based disorder of constitutional origin characterized by difficulties in single word decoding, usually reflecting insufficient phonological processing abilities. These difficulties in single word decoding are often unexpected in relation to age and other cognitive and academic abilities; they are not the result of generalized developmental disability or sensory impairment. Dyslexia is manifest by variable difficulty with different forms of language, often including, in addition to problems reading, a conspicuous problem with acquiring proficiency in writing and spelling. 

Can individuals who are dyslexic learn to read? 

"Yes, if children who are dyslexic get effective phonological training in Kindergarten and 1st grade, they will have significantly fewer problems in learning to read at grade level than do children who are not identified or helped until 3rd grade." For those who have not acquired phonological training by first grade, software programs, such as the Language Tune up Kit is a highly effective approach that teaches the dyslexic student how to read.  "74% of the children who are poor readers in 3rd grade remain poor readers in the 9th grade. This means that they can't read well as adults. "It is never too late for individuals with dyslexia to learn to read, process and express information more efficiently. Research shows that programs utilizing multi-sensory structured language techniques can help children and adults learn to read.

Is Dyslexia a Brain Dysfunction?

Though it is not scientific evidence to support the same , evidence points to the fact that the brain of a dyslexic differs from that of a normal person. This leads to a significant motor co-ordination problem which is why many of the dyslexic read ‘b’ as ‘d’ and ‘p’ as ‘q’, wear their shoes on the wrong foot and have trouble tying their shoe laces. Similarly arithmetic is a waterloo for them as it demands spatial abilities. The wiring of the dyslexic brain makes them particular slow as far as spatial abilities is concerned. This is why dyslexic make dangerous drivers and poor navigators. 

Who gets Dyslexia?

The reasons for dyslexia may be neurological and genetic. According to an American study the risk that a child will have dyslexia is increased from 4 to 13 times if one of the parents has dyslexia too. A human being, however, is not merely a slave to his genes, as the dramatic findings of an experiment at the Glenwood State School demonstrated.

So what do we do about it?

The first president of the United States, George Washington, was dyslexic. So was Albert Einstein. Some famous dyslexics include children’s book writer Hans Christian Anderson, U.S. Army General George Patton, Italian artist, painter and inventor Leonardo Da Vinci, telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell and actors Whoopi Goldberg, Henri Winkler and Tom Cruise.

Thought to be genetic and hereditary, some forms of dyslexia can also be caused when hearing problems at an early age affect a person’s language comprehension skills. Doctors still don’t know for sure what causes dyslexia, but they say there is a correlation between left-handedness and the learning disability in many families. It is estimated that one in 10 children is dyslexic. And more males are affected than females. 

Dyslexic children can usually succeed at the same levels as others once they are diagnosed and start receiving extra support and attention at home and school. Children suspected of suffering from dyslexia undergo a series of reading, spelling, drawing, math and intelligence tests, as well as visual tests, laterality tests, visual scanning tests, sequencing and other tests to examine which brain functions are interfering with their acquisition of normal school learning. 

Dyslexia also affects adults, but those who receive attention early in life often learn how to compensate for the disability by adulthood. Dyslexic adults, however, tend to continue to have difficulty with language skills throughout their lives. But a dyslexia diagnosis is no barrier to success. 

Making Life of A Dyslexic Better

Glancing at the list of super achievers who have battled and overcome dyslexia, it is clear that it is no barrier to success in life. We just need to redefine the concept of success. Does success get restricted to the narrow parameters assigned to it. 

While researching for this article I found this link especially useful. I would suggest everyone to have a read through it.  


More by :  Smitha Chakravarthula

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