What is dyslexia.?
Dyslexia is a learning disorder that involves difficulty reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words (decoding). Also called reading disability, dyslexia affects areas of the brain that process language.
Early Signs and Symptoms
1. Difficulty recognising shapes
2. Difficulty recognizing and naming Letters
3. Reading very slowly
4. Comprehension of Reading – Poor
5. Reading avoidance
6. Delay in learning to read
There are some children who are not able to recognise shapes at an early age. The importance of learning this early concept is immense. Many a time parents and teachers neglect this early red flag and straight away start with complex alphabet recognition. This can have poor or no results as it is not developmentally appropriate. Recognition of shapes, Alphabets in English, Akshars in Hindi has to progress in a developmentally sequential manner for best output. Those children who are not able to recognise alphabets automatically, may fall under the category of "Visual dyslexia". The neural wiring in such children are impaired and natural automaticity is affected. In medical terminology, this subtype of Dyslexia is called Visual Dyslexia.
1. They may be vey proficient in recognising alphabets, whole words but still struggle to read.
2. The child prefers to play with puzzles or watching videos than listening to stories.
3. They seem to hear but not listen and often needs to have instructions repeated.
4. Problems associating letters with sounds.
5. Difficulty in auditory discrimination which involved differentiating between word pairs.
6. Mispronouncing words.
Again, parents and teachers here too neglect the above mentioned early red flags and straight away start with whole word approach and may underestimate the deficient areas, i.e sound and phonological awareness. The neural wiring in such children are impaired and natural automaticity is affected. In medical terminology, this subtype of Dyslexia is called ''Auditory Dyslexia''.
When both visual and auditory dyslexia coexist then the type of reading difficulty is called Deep Dyslexia. Comorbidity increases the range of difficulty as far as management is concerned.Each of these subtypes range from mild, moderate and severe.
The problem/ underlying causes are quite complex. The reasons include:-
1. Poor linguistic coding process & knowledge.
2. Poor visual coding process & knowledge.
3. Poor lexical knowledge.
4. Poor sublexical knowledge:-
- Phonological awareness
- Orthographic awareness
- Alphabetic knowledge
5. Poor Attention.
6. Poor Eye movement control.
7. Poor Meta linguistic process & knowledge.
Treatment in all the above mentioned areas of concern are managed by a multidisciplinary team comprising of psychologists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, remedial educators and sometimes the Psychiatrist as well. Since learning disabilities have a neuro- psychological origin, it is a lifelong condition. Therefore, there are no cure for the condition. But the difficulties can be managed if identified early and receive effective therapeutic input and support from school. Sometimes parents remain concerned and feel whether the therapies would continue throughout life. Indeed the pupils do need support even later in their academic career but the intensity and frequency of support reduces.
Tips for teachers
- Let the pupil know that you are really interested in her/his disability.
- Set standards in concrete terms. Error free learning is unlikely for him.
- Pay individual attention and encourage him to ask for help when he gets stuck.
- Ensure that he understands the assessments given.
- Repeat new information.
- Give more practice than would be normal.
- He may need more help in relating concepts to the past experiences.
- Give more time to organize thoughts and complete work.
- Read out material if necessary
- Where possible grade work on content and not on spelling.
- When possible try oral testing
- Try including positive comments on his work
- He may need a lot of help to build his self esteem.
- Avoid asking him to read in public.
- Try to find areas of strength.
- Praise whenever possible.
- Give less home work
- Mark on oral responses when possible.
- When reading long words divide syllables with a pencil line.
- Help him pronounce correctly.
- Put him at the front of the class so that you can let him work with text book open.
- Put important words on the black board clearly.
- Give time to copy from the board.
- Make a dyslexic read aloud in public if reluctant.
- Correct all mistakes in written work- it’s too discouraging.
- Give long list of spelling words to learn.
- Make him write out work again.
- Compare with others.
- A dyslexic tires more quickly than a normal person because greater concentration is required.
- He may read a passage correctly and yet not get the sense of it.
- He may have great difficulty with figures, reading music or anything that entails interpreting symbols.
- Learning foreign language is a problem.
- He is inconsistent in performance.
- He may omit a word or words or may write one twice.
- He suffers from a constant nagging uncertainty.
- He cannot take good notes because listen and write at the same time.
- When he looks away from a book he is reading or a blackboard he is copying from, he has great difficulty in finding his place again.
- He works slowly because of his difficulties and so is always under pressure of time.