What Is Dyslexia
Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is often characterised by difficulties in one or more areas of reading, spelling and writing. Some of the accompanying weaknesses may include difficulties in language acquisition, phonological processing, working memory, sequencing and organisation, visual perception and motor skills. There is an unexpected gap between a child’s potential for learning and his or her academic achievement.
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Causes of Dyslexia
The exact causes of dyslexia are not completely clear but it is commonly explained as a difference in the brain area that deals with the processing of language-based information.
Dyslexia is not the result of an intellectual disability and many of these children have average to above-average intelligence. It is also not the result of poor motivation, emotional disturbance, sensory impairment or lack of opportunities, but it may occur alongside any of these.
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Signs And Symptoms of Dyslexia
Difficulties in acquiring and using language, reading, spelling and writing letters in the wrong order is just one manifestation of dyslexia and does not occur in all cases. Examples of other problems experienced by children with dyslexia include:
- Difficulty learning the names of letters or sounds in the alphabet.
- Difficulty in identifying and/or discriminating sounds in words.
- Confusion with similar letters such as “b” and “d”, “p” and “q”.
- Confusion of words that look alike such as “on” and “no”, “was” and “saw”, “there” and “three”.
- Confusion with concepts relating to directions such as “left” and “right”, “before” and “after”.
- Difficulty organising spoken and written language.
- Difficulty following a series of instructions.
It is important to note that not all children who have difficulties with the above weaknesses have dyslexia. A child with dyslexia usually has several of these characteristics which persist over time and interfere with learning. Formal testing is the only way to confirm a diagnosis of suspected dyslexia.
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Diagnosis And Treatment Options For Dyslexia
Dyslexia is a lifelong condition. Early identification and treatment are key to help children with dyslexia achieve success in school and in life.
Treatment for dyslexia consists of using educational tools to enhance the ability to read and/or write. Children with dyslexia can be taught by a method that involves several senses (hearing, seeing and touching) at the same time or what we call a multi-sensory approach.
Formal dyslexia assessment can be done after a child is 6 to 7 years old. Younger children who appear to be at risk for dyslexia can be enrolled in reading programmes before a formal assessment is done.
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Tips For Taking Care Of Children With Dyslexia
It is important to remember that all children learn differently and at different rates. You will need to understand your child’s strengths and weaknesses, rate of learning and interests in order to help your child be successful in overcoming or coping with his or her difficulties.
The following is a list of ways that you can help your child with dyslexia develop reading skills and feel good about themselves.
- Read to your child
Find time to read to your child every day. Point to the words as you read. Draw attention to words that you encounter in daily life, such as traffic signs, notices, and labels.
- Be a good reading role model
Show your child how important reading is to daily life. Know your child’s interests and make books, magazines, and other reading materials available for him or her to explore and enjoy independently.
- Focus on phonemes
Play rhyming games, sing songs that emphasise rhyme and alliteration, play word games, sound out letters, and point out similarities in words.
- Work on spelling
Point out new words, play spelling games and encourage your child to write.
- Help with time and planning
Hang up simple charts, clocks, and calendars, so your child can visualise time and plan for the future.
- Share in the joy of reading
Find books that your child can read but that you will also enjoy. Sit together, take turns reading, and encourage discussion. Revisiting words that cause trouble for your child and re-reading stories are powerful tools to reinforce learning.
- Read, read, read
Research has shown that parents who read to and with their children make a positive difference in learning basic reading skills.
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The information provided on this page is meant purely for educational purposes and may not be used as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should seek the advice of your doctor or a qualified healthcare provider before starting any treatment or if you have any questions related to your child’s health, physical fitness or medical conditions.