What is Dyslexia??
Dyslexia (say: dis-lek-see-uh) is a learning problem some kids have with reading and writing. It can make words look jumbled. This makes it difficult for a kid to read and remember what was read.
So what's going on inside the person's brain? Well, it doesn't mean the person is dumb. In fact, some very smart people have had dyslexia. How smart? Well, some people say Albert Einstein was dyslexic.
The problem does occur in the brain, though. Sometimes the messages the brain is sending get jumbled up or confused. A kid who has dyslexia might get frustrated and find it hard to do schoolwork. But the good news is that dyslexia doesn't need to keep a kid down.
How to recognise dyslexia in children?
Reading and learning are the two things that determine the success of a child during his school career. First he learns to read. Then he reads to learn. Reading is therefore of paramount importance in the educational process.
Unfortunately poor reading skills, and therefore poor learning skills, have become a reality for an alarming number of children. The word "dyslexia" is often used to refer to reading problems, while the symptoms below indicate that a child has dyslexia and therefore needs help:
First of all, it is important to exclude a range of other reasons why a child is having great difficulty in learning to read and write. These include poor eyesight, hearing difficulties, absence from school through ill health, inadequate or very interrupted schooling or emotional stress at home.
Hearing problems are particularly important. Many young children suffer ear infections and for a minority this is followed by a condition called glue ear. This can significantly reduce a child's hearing ability for a time.
Researchers have found that if children suffer from this condition around the age of two (when they are acquiring spoken language very rapidly) or around five (when they are beginning to learn the skills needed for reading), they are more likely to experience difficulties in learning to read. If they are dyslexic, these difficulties will certainly compound the problem.
Once these reasons have been ruled out, most experts would agree that there are signs even before children start school which indicate that they might be dyslexic. However, young children develop at different rates and it is important to remember this and allow for normal variation.
It is useful to question whether there is a history of reading or spelling difficulties in the family, although a family history does not mean that every child in the family will have dyslexia.
Parents who are concerned should also be aware of other problems that may arise. Some dyslexic children have difficulties finding the appropriate words to express themselves and may be slow to process information. Many such children may become isolated socially and find friendships difficult.
Other children may have motor difficulties. If they are generally clumsy or bad at sport they are often teased and excluded from playground games. Bullying can then be a problem.
It's always worth remembering that suitable help from a young age may prevent children from falling behind.
Other pointers are included in the checklists below.
Experts disagree about which are the most important. However, the following are generally accepted as causes of concern.
Does your child:
have a relatively short attention span?
find it hard to remember nursery rhymes and rhyming words, like 'cat' and 'hat'?
find it difficult to do 'odd one out' games with words?
show little interest in words and letters even if he or she enjoys stories?
mix up directional words like 'up' and 'down', 'in' and 'out'?
have difficulty putting objects into a sequence, such as coloured beads?
jumble up letters or whole words in speech, such as saying 'beddy tear' for 'teddy bear'?
have difficulties with physical skills like catching, throwing and kicking a ball, skipping, hopping, jumping and balancing?
At primary school.
Watch out for a child who:
is doing much less well than expected
has marked and persistent difficulties with reading and spelling
enjoys the content of stories and information read to him or her, but when attempting to read, over-uses the content to 'guess' at words
writes letters and/or numbers the wrong way round
takes a long time to complete any written work
leaves letters out of words or puts them in the wrong order
has difficulty remembering times tables or the alphabet, or putting things like the days of the week in order
needs to use fingers or written marks to do simple calculations when other children are easily able to do them in their heads
confuses left and right
appears careless and inattentive
has unusual difficulties in dressing or tying shoe-laces.
At secondary school.
Is he or she:
still reading unusually slowly or inaccurately?
still having marked difficulties with spelling and legible handwriting?
confusing places, times and dates?
needing to have instructions and telephone numbers, etc, repeated?
finding great difficulty in planning work and writing essays?
taking much longer than other pupils over written assignments?
having problems with note taking?
producing disappointing results in exams?
working inconsistently with marked 'on' and 'off' days?