What defines intelligence to you – reading, speaking, or just a beautiful handwriting?
Dyslexia is the inability to relate the sounds of words with the letters that create the words so it becomes difficult to read, write and speak even when general intelligence is not affected.
Technically speaking, it is a neurological learning disability that interferes with language acquisition and processing which interferes with reading, writing, spelling, and handwriting ability. Comprehension, and sometimes attention, and not general intelligence, is affected. Now, it’s important Dyslexia should not be confused with Autism, Attention Deficit Disorder, or Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity.
Dyslexia affects language acquisition and is a leading cause of difficulties in school. It is no respecter of any language. So if your native language is Yoruba and that is the only language you understand, the symptoms of Dyslexia still applies. It can affect just anybody irrespective of their racial background.
While dyslexic individuals have difficulties in language, they often have strengths in reasoning, visual and creative fields.
There are no known causes of Dyslexia. Dyslexia is either an inherited condition that is passed from generation to generation or acquired as a result of a traumatic brain injury or other factors.
Here are a few risk factors
- Having a family history of Dyslexia. If a parent or a sibling is dyslexic, there is high tendency for a child to inherit the condition
- Very low birth weight or premature birth
- Prenatal viral infections
- Prenatal exposure to substances such as nicotine, drugs, and alcohol
How does Dyslexia Affect Children
- Despite having normal intelligence they have difficulties reading including reading aloud.
- Dyslexic children may learn to crawl, walk, talk, or ride a bicycle later than peers.
- They learn new words slowly.
- Tendency to mix up “left” and “right”.
- Commonly mispronounce words, and not appear to distinguish between different words sounds.
- Reversing numbers and letters without realizing it
- Challenges in remembering letters, numbers or colors and how they are pronounced
- Learning nursery rhymes or playing rhyming games is more challenging.
- There may also be difficulties remembering the days of the week, months of the year, colors, and some arithmetic tables.
- May be clumsier than peers, with poorer eye – hand coordination (sports such as basket ball may seem difficult).
- Commonly find it hard to concentrate, which may be as a result a few minutes of non-stop struggling which leads to mentally exhaustion.
- Difficulties remembering sequence of things.
- Despite knowing what to say, they find it difficult finding the right words or forming answers to questions.
- Avoidance of activities that involves reading.
- Increased risk of ADHD or ADD.
How does Dyslexia Affect Adults?
Difficulties in adulthood are similar to children. These are a few common areas.
- Difficulties reading including reading aloud.
- Avoiding situations that require reading.
- Difficulties summarizing a story heard or read, understanding jokes and idioms.
- Becomes frustrated at managing time, filling out a lengthy form, completing tasks, and planning meetings.
- Become perfectionists and overreact when they make a mistake.
- Better learners through hands-on-experience, observation, experimentation and visual aids.
- Prefers sticking to routine they are familiar with. They would rather not leave their comfort zone.
- Trouble learning foreign languages.
- Difficulties memorizing and doing math problems.
Being a spectrum disorder, symptoms might range from low to severe. It is important to seek professionals advice when there is suspicion. Symptoms may also be as a result of other conditions. It is advisable not to reach a conclusion on account of one or more of the signs above. It is best to seek out professional advice before conclusion.
Dyslexia can lead to major problems such as learning since reading is an intricate part of learning. It could also lead to low self esteem and fear of negative evaluation that can eventually affect the quality of life. Also, as adults, if not managed properly especially during childhood, dyslexic individuals may not reach full potentials which have long-term social, economical, and educational consequences. Also, dyslexic parents tend to feel guilty when the same challenges are experienced by their children.
Dyslexia is not considered a medical or physical condition, so it may be difficult to get a diagnosis from your doctor. Trained professionals such as developmental psychologists administer psychometric tests in order to make a diagnosis. Due to the many symptoms associated with dyslexia, it is important to have a physical in-person assessment session. It is important to rule out any medical reason before a diagnosis of dyslexia can be made. Few tests administered are hearing tests, reading tests, vision tests, and psychological tests. A child or adult history, life at home or work would be evaluated to come up with a suitable treatment plan.
The sooner one is diagnosed and receives support for Dyslexia, the more likely evident long-term improvements. Once a trained professional has been able to diagnose dyslexia, the next step is to set up a treatment plan to help manage the condition. Currently, there is no “cure” for dyslexia. Treatment is aimed at providing compensatory skills to deal with the challenges in daily life.
A treatment plan could include:
Educational Techniques – A dyslexic child need special education and a psychological testing would help develop a suitable teaching practice unique to the child. This approach helps the teacher develop a better-targeted teaching program for the child which involves touch, vision, and hearing. A personalized coaching on reading can also help a dyslexic individual no matter the age.
On-going Evaluation For Adults – Adults with dyslexia may benefit from evaluation to refine current coping strategies, and identify areas where more support is needed.
Guidance and Support – The need for support is crucial in the management of dyslexia. Support from family, school, work and society. It takes a lot of mental strain to cope with the effects of dyslexia. The realization that you are understood and not judged is a good feeling for anyone. It is important to note that millions of people with dyslexia worldwide are thriving and becoming successful and productive citizens.
Note, dear readers, it is not the child’s fault and he/she needs all the help available to live a better life. Remember while they may have difficulties, their intelligence is not impaired. Dyslexic individuals can be really intelligent. They have untapped potentials and with the right resources that can do marvelous exploits. Let’s lend them a voice. Neglecting dyslexic children increases the high rate of school dropout, juvenile crime, drug abuse and other social vices.
Working with dyslexic individuals is one of the greatest experiences I have had. I have worked with dyslexic adults undergoing training in the fashion industry, and I categorically say that they can compete in any fashion and design competitions to the highest standard.
Dyslexia is not a spiritual attack. It is a neurological learning disability and with adequate management a dyslexic can and will live a successful life… developmental difficulties matter.