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What causes Dyslexia?

In dyslexia, the brain’s reading area is hard-wired such that the person cannot translate images of words with their associated sounds into comprehensible language. The old name for dyslexia was “word blindness”, pointing to the person’s diminished capacity to read despite having normal vision, hearing and intelligence.

How does it affect Learning?

Staying focussed is key to learning. Dyslexics have great difficulty staying focussed, even with much effort. Day dreaming and disorientation takes over. Common symptoms include mistakes with letters, numbers, recognition or verbalization of words or spatial difficulties.

Dyslexics are primarily picture thinkers. They use pictures to solve problems rather than words. Symbols like letters and numbers don’t always make sense and often cause them confusion, hence the inability to write or copy symbols in the correct sequence and position. This leads them to skip words or confuse lines as they read.

Almost all of the learning a student is required to do at school needs word thinking. Dyslexics do not think with the sounds of words and may take longer to process the meaning of what they hear because sounds have no pictures.

This is what makes it so difficult for the picture-thinking students in distinguishing sounds and they may hear something different from what a person actually says. They’re usually poor in following instructions, especially if many are given at once.

Knowing what happens to dyslexic students in a classroom helps to understand how learning problems can develop.

How to recognize dyslexia in a child?

By definition, students with dyslexia have average to above average intelligence, but they experience processing problems when their brain receives stimuli from their senses. There is significant discrepancy between their ability as measured on an individual IQ test and their school performance as evaluated by their teachers. The “disability” reflects the area of the brain where processing problems occur. For example, some students misperceive symbolic language but may be highly capable when dealing with concrete representations. Words and numbers do not make logical sense to them when found outside a meaningful, concrete context.

People with dyslexia have learning problems throughout their lives. One does not "outgrow" dyslexia; rather one develops coping strategies. Students with dyslexia always have to "translate" lesson content into a "language" their brain can process and understand. The following are some descriptions you may observe in students with dyslexia:

  • See letters and numbers in different positions from how they are written
  • May confuse left and right
  • May have trouble distinguishing important objects from their backgrounds
  • May have trouble with eye-hand coordination, leading to awkwardness in physical activity
  • May have coordination problems which make them appear clumsy or disoriented in space
  • Tend to perceive letters and words incorrectly
  • May see some letters in reverse, such as “b” as “d”, “p” for “q”
  • Have trouble communicating their thoughts through speech
  • May have difficulty understanding what others say to them
  • Can be disorganized because they can’t follow through on thought processes in an orderly fashion
  • Their attention is often diverted from the task at hand
  • Have difficulty transferring concrete information to abstract applications
  • Their short-or-long term memory may be impaired, leading them to forget what they have learned
Identifying your child’s Learning Style

The term “learning styles” refers to the way the brain perceives and processes what it needs to learn.

When students are asked to engage in a learning task that conflicts with the way they think, they feel stressed. According to brain researcher, Leslie Hart, curriculum must be “brain-compatible” or it cannot be learned.

Since dyslexic students function and learn differently, it stands to reason that they must be taught differently. Validating individual preferences enhances a student’s self-esteem and confidence tremendously. In fact, there is no “right way” the only way for each student is the one that works!

The learning success of struggling learners can be enhanced by matching teaching to their learning styles.

Discovering individual’s learning style is especially efficacious for the homeschooled child because homeschooling allows for latitude with individual preferences

How is Dyslexia diagnosed?

There is no standard, objective, commonly-agreed-upon set of criteria for dyslexia presently available. Dyslexia is a difficult condition to diagnose. Usually an Educational Psychologist or other health professional does a series of tests diagnosis. The test determines the individual's functional reading level and compares it to reading potential, which is evaluated by an intelligence test. The problem with formalized testing is that it is just a complicated and often very expensive way of revealing what the parents and teachers already know - and it delays implementation of teaching methods that are likely to help the child.

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