Leonardo Da Vinci, Tom Cruise, Keanu Reeves, Thomas Alva Edison, Salma Hayek and Stephen Spielberg are some of the exemplary personalities who mesmerized the world with their unparalleled talent and intelligence. However, there is something else which connects all these people. They all have achieved great success in their lives by surviving a condition called dyslexia. The list is endless as a basic search on the Google would reveal the names of thousands of successful people who fared amazingly well despite diagnosed with dyslexia.
However, there is a lack of awareness in our society about dyslexia and children affected by such condition are often mocked or isolated. It is high time that we enlighten ourselves with the various kinds of learning disabilities like dyslexia.
What is dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a learning disability which is linked to how the brain processes reading and writing. Children with dyslexia find it extremely difficult to learn the various aspects of language acquisition. For instance, it would be difficult for a dyslexic child to recognize the alphabets in words. Similarly, late talking, struggling to learn new words, difficulty in learning the meanings of words, problems in forming words correctly, difficulty in writing down what he/she has understood, struggle in learning mathematics and calculations are some of the prominent symptoms of dyslexia.
Teachers often complain that some students struggle to explain what they have learned or write down what they have understood about a lesson, despite possessing amazing intelligence. Dyslexic students have difficulty reading, writing, spelling and processing and understanding what he/she hears. Thus their academic performances wouldn’t be as impressive as their peers’. However, it must be noted that dyslexic students often possess normal or high intelligence.
Problems like poor eye sight or hearing disabilities, which are likely to affect the academic performances of the students, are not usually found in dyslexic students. Children, who don’t seem to suffer from noticeable physical disabilities, may get noticed when they display poor skills in reading and writing. Teachers and parents are often misled by their poor classroom performance to believe that such children lack the intelligence that is expected of their age level.
The superior temporal gyrus on top of the temporal lobe of the human brains enables the handling of language, including speech and writing. This part of the brain helps see and recognize language, process the words, recognize different sounds that make up a word, spell it and then present the meaning of it in its fullest sense. The medical science explains dyslexia as caused by irregularities in the development of the superior temporal gyrus. These are also linked to the unique features of the genes and thus dyslexia tends to run in the family. Besides, there are some other reasons that cause dyslexia. They are:
» Pre-mature birth
» Complications during child labor which blocks sufficient supply of oxygen to the baby’s brain.
» Infections in expectant mothers
These are some of the difficulties experienced by dyslexic persons:
» Difficulty in using language - slow learning of new words, difficulty in pronouncing certain words or sounds.
» Difficulty in learning alphabets and their sounds.
» Problems in forming words correctly while speaking and writing
» Problems in processing and understanding what they hear
» Difficulty to spell - recurring spelling mistakes could be spotted in their note books
» Trouble doing mathematical calculations
Look for the following symptoms in small kids to understand whether they are dyslexic:
» Frequent mistakes while saying the alphabets and numbers
» Difficulty in understanding the differences of similar sounding words (For example: cat, hat, mat)
» Trouble recalling words starting with a particular alphabet (For instance dyslexic students may find difficult recalling words that begin with ‘A’)
» Mispronouncing the words
» Unable to clap according to the rhythm of a song
» Trouble remembering certain words and instructions
» Forgetting names of people and places
» How does dyslexia affect the lives of children?
Due to the ‘poor’ academic performances, dyslexic students often get misunderstood for being retarded or lacking the intelligence that is expected of their age. This creates problems in continuing their education.
Some teachers and parents falsely believe that such kids are purposefully repeating the same mistakes. They may accuse or punish the students for not faring well in exams as well. Their struggle in reading and writing may hinder their academic progress. Children may lose interest in studies as it turns into an extremely difficult process for them.
Dyslexic students are often mocked by their teachers, classmates and friends. This severely affects their confidence and self respect. If undiagnosed in the early stages, it may lead to depression and anxiety.
Lack of concentration and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder may affect their studies and lives as well. Children begin to dislike going to the school for these reasons. Many survey reports and numbers reveal dyslexia as the main reason for millions of students to drop out of schools.
How to diagnose dyslexia?
The symptoms of dyslexia are usually exhibited during the primary classes itself. This condition becomes noticeably prominent between the ages of 6 and 8. Specially trained teachers can easily identify the symptoms of dyslexia in their students. If diagnosed with dyslexia, do not hesitate to seek medical assistance. Elaborate tests could confirm conditions like autism, ADHD and other brain disorders too.
IQ tests and memory tests are part of the diagnosis of dyslexia.
Observe the way the child reads or writes to identify disabilities. Rely on their school notebooks for that.
Dyslexia is not a disease that can be cured by administering medicines. There are various ways in which children could be helped with their difficulties and enable them to complete their education. It is important to diagnose the condition as early as possible.
Each child has different needs. Realize their individual needs to come up with solutions that suit them.
Remedial teaching is one of the important factors which help train dyslexic students effectively.
Making lessons simplified and direct, dividing activities into small parts, avoiding features which may distract them, and marking the words that require special attention and correcting the mistakes while reading are some of the remedial measures.
Conditions like ADHD, depression and anxiety, which are likely to accompany dyslexia, should be diagnosed and treated.
Special schools and specially designed curriculum are available for dyslexic students.
Some misconceptions about dyslexia and their explanations:
» Dyslexic people are low on intelligence: No, they usually display normal or high intelligence
» It is a rare condition: No, 5 – 10% of people around the world are diagnosed with dyslexia
» There is no solution to it: There are solutions. Dyslexic people can absolutely lead normal lives if they are diagnosed at an early age and trained appropriately.
» Dyslexic people read and write everything in reverse order: Some may do that. However, majority of dyslexic people do not read or write in reverse order.
» This condition will disappear after a while: No. If not diagnosed and trained accordingly, it may severely affect the studies.
» Dyslexia is a mental disorder: No, it is a learning disorder linked to irregularities in brain activities.
» Dyslexia is caused by poor eye sight: No, dyslexic students have normal eyesight like other children.
People with dyslexia deserve support and not mockery or sympathy. Teachers should be specially trained to recognize the symptoms of dyslexia in students at a young age itself. Similarly, projects to support and motivate them and special curriculum that suit their needs should be created and made available for the ordinary folks.