Dyslexia is a learning disability that was identified by Oswald Berkhan in 1881 and the term for the disability was coined by Rudolf Berlin in 1887. The disability has been defined in various ways till date, but without any consensus. According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, dyslexia is a learning disability that can hinder a person's ability to read, write, spell, and sometimes, speak. One finds difficulty with the visual notation of speech or written language, particularly while reading the various man-made writing systems. It is different from the reading difficulties that are caused by non-neurological deficiency related to vision or hearing. It is also different from reading difficulties caused due to poor reading instructions.
Dyslexia is one of the common learning difficulties faced by children and the severity can vary from mild to severe. Despite having intellectual abilities and the opportunity to learn, dyslexic children fail to attain the reading and writing commensurate to their intelligence. The cause of dyslexia is impairment in the brain’s ability to translate images received from the eyes or ears into languages that are understandable. It is not a result of vision or hearing problems, mental retardation, brain damage or lack of intelligence. A child suffering from dyslexia often feels frustrated and suffers from depression and low self-esteem. Behavior problems at home and school can be frequently seen, as the child becomes unmotivated and starts nurturing a dislike for school.
Different Types of Dyslexia
There are different types of dyslexia that can affect a child.
Trauma Dyslexia: The first type of dyslexia is ‘trauma dyslexia’, which takes place due to some form of brain injury to that particular area of the brain which controls reading and writing.
Primary Dyslexia: The second type of dyslexia, referred to as ‘primary dyslexia’, is said to be hereditary in nature. This type of dyslexia is a dysfunction of the left side of the brain and does not cure with age. Individuals suffering from this type of dyslexia are rarely able to read beyond the fourth-grade level. As adults also, they suffer from reading, spelling and writing difficulties.
Secondary Dyslexia: ‘Secondary’ or ‘developmental' dyslexia is the third type of dyslexia. It is said to be caused by hormonal development during the early stages of fetal development. It is also common in boys and tends to diminish as the child matures.
Signs & Symptoms of Dyslexia
- Letter and number reversals
- Difficulty copying from the board or a book
- Confusion with before/ after, left/ right and other such words
- Difficulty in learning alphabets
- General disorganization of written work
- Difficulty remembering content, even of the favorite video or storybook
- Coordination problems and difficulty with organized games and sports
- Difficulty while moving to the rhythm of the music
- Difficulty remembering or understanding what is heard
- Difficulty recalling sequences of things or more than one command
- Trouble finding actual words to express their thoughts
- Trouble with time keeping and the concept of time
- Difficulty in associating individual words with their correct meanings
After a child has been diagnosed with dyslexia, an evaluation is needed to done, to determine his/ her specific area of disability. An appropriate treatment plan will focus on the following areas:
- Strengthening the child’s weaknesses and using his strengths
- A systematic study of phonics
- Helping all the senses work together, by specially designed techniques
- Specific reading approaches like Slingerland Method, the Orton-Gillingham Method, or Project READ, which require a child to hear, see, say, and do something
- Use of the powerful tool called computer, as much as possible
- Compensation and coping skills
- Optimum learning conditions and alternative avenues for student performance
At the end, it is to be remembered that the treatment of dyslexia ideally involves planning between the parents and the teachers. Both the parties should resort to using modern and interactive tools and techniques to get proper feedback from the children suffering from the disability. It is only their joint effort that can make the treatment process interesting and effective.