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Dyslexia 101

What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability that affects 1 in 5 individuals. It is a general term used to describe the difficulty with learning to read, interpreting letters or sounds, and accurate or fluent word recognition. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language. Decoding words are extremely challenging for those with dyslexia because their brains process language differently.

Dyslexia is prevalent across the world and is more common than ADHD/ADD. It affects 20% of the population, and there is not one ethnic or socioeconomic background that can escape this statistic. Dyslexia affects every class equally.

Signs of Dyslexia

The International Dyslexia Association’s research indicates several early signs of dyslexia. It is important to point out a common myth that dyslexia is not reading words backward.

  • Learning to speak
  • Learning letters and their sounds
  • Organizing written and spoken language
  • Difficulty rhyming words
  • Memorizing number facts
  • Reading quickly enough to comprehend
  • Persisting with and comprehending longer reading assignments
  • Spelling
  • Learning a foreign language
  • Correctly doing math operations

How is Dyslexia Diagnosed?

A licensed educational psychologist diagnoses dyslexia. He or she begins gathering information from parents or guardians, classroom teacher(s), speech or language pathologist, and educational assessments. The extensive evaluation consists of the following

Evaluation Elements:

  • Background information
  • Intelligence
  • Oral language
  • Word recognition
  • Decoding
  • Spelling
  • Phonological processes
  • Fluency skills
  • Reading comprehension
  • Vocabulary knowledge

An evaluation should result in a written report. This report should include information related to the family literacy history, any significant medical issues the child may have, prenatal and birth conditions, and preschool development, including language learning. The education history should include information on school attendance, tests administered and test scores. These scores should be stated as standard scores. Standard scores compare the learner to others of the same age or grade. This material should provide the framework for the detailed evaluation of relative strengths and weaknesses across the various skill areas assessed.

How is Dyslexia Treated?

Treating dyslexia includes using specific educational approaches and techniques. Several reading programs such as Wilson Reading Systems and Orton-Gillingham that are designed specifically for dyslexics. The programs use a multi-sensory approach and use techniques involving hearing, vision, and touch to improve reading skills. Helping a child use several senses to learn — for example, listening to a taped lesson and tracing with a finger the shape of the letters used and the words spoken — can help in processing the information.

Treatment includes:

  • Decoding the smallest sounds that make up words (phonemes)
  • Blending letters to represent sounds and words (phonics)
  • Comprehend what he or she is reading
  • Read aloud to build reading accuracy, speed, and expression (fluency)
  • Build a vocabulary of recognized and understood words

Tutoring sessions with a reading specialist can be helpful for many children with dyslexia. If your child has a severe reading disability, tutoring may need to occur more frequently, and progress may be slower. Find a tutor in your area today.