What is Dyslexia?

The student who struggles with reading and spelling often puzzles teachers and parents. The student receives the same classroom instruction as other students,but continues to struggle with some or all of the many facets of reading and spelling.This student may have dyslexia.

What are the primary symptoms of Dyslexia?

The primary symptoms are:

  • Problems learning the letter sounds for reading and spelling
  • Difficulty in reading single words,such as on flash cards and in lists (decoding)
  • Lack of fluency
  • Reading slowly with many mistakes
  • Poor spelling
  • Poor visual gestalt / coding (orthographic coding)

Understanding Dyslexia:

Dyslexia is not a disease! The word dyslexia comes from the Greek language and means difficulty with words. Individuals with dyslexia have trouble with reading and spelling despite having the ability to learn. Individuals with dyslexia can learn, they just learn in a different way. Often these individuals,who have talented and productive minds, are said to have a language learning difference.

Dyslexia and reading difficulties are on a continuum:

Dyslexia occurs on a continuum from mild to severe and no two are alike. With appropriate correction therapy and instruction aimed towards their learning needs, most children can overcome their literacy difficulties and lead productive lives.

Central difficulty:

A student with dyslexia will have a particular difficulty with single word reading networks that are brain based (neurological). Dyslexia is not a problem with comprehension. Individuals with dyslexia are able to use higher level language skills to support their reading of connected text (stories) and this ability to ‘compensate’ may mask their underlying difficulties with single word reading (decoding).The central difficulty for a student with dyslexia is to convert letter symbols to their correct sound (decode) and convert sounds to their correct written symbol(spell). Research into dyslexia subtypes indicates that poor visual (i.e., orthographic) coding can also be part of the difficulty.

What causes Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is:

  • Highly hereditary
  • A difference in the way the brain works
  • Problems in the development of phonological awareness

Strengths of Dyslexia

Research has indicated that we should be wary about automatically assuming that language processing difficulties/differences or cognitive difficulties/differences associated with dyslexia are deficits. Some of the cognitive differences that dyslexic individuals display may actually confer advantages for some kinds of thinking or encourage them to find different paths to learning.The following are some of the strengths that individuals with dyslexia may display:

  • Inquiring mind
  • Problem Solving
  • Comprehending new ideas
  • Generating ideas
  • Analytic thinking
  • Creative thinking
  • 3-D construction
  • Finding different strategies
  • Seeing the big picture
  • Insightful thinking

“Paying attention to empowerment, emotional intelligence and self esteem is vital when it comes to dyslexia and associated reading challenges”. Jodi Clements