3. Dyslexia

3.1 What is dyslexia?

The word ‘dyslexia’ comes from two Greek words: “dys”, which means abnormal or impaired, and ‘lexis’, which refers to language or words.

Dyslexia is a neurological based, often familial, disorder which interferes with the acquisition and processing of language. Varying in degrees of severity, it is manifested by difficulties in receptive and expressive language, including phonological processing, in reading, writing, spelling, hand writing, and sometimes in arithmetic.

Dyslexia is not the result of lack of motivation, sensory impairment, inadequate instructional or environmental opportunities, or other limiting conditions, but may occur together with these conditions.

Although dyslexia is lifelong, individuals with dyslexia frequently respond successfully to timely and appropriate intervention.

3.2 Facts and Statistics of Dyslexia

  1. Dyslexia is the most common cause of reading, writing and spelling difficulties
  2. Of people with poor reading skills, 70 – 80% are likely dyslexic
  3. One in five students, or 15-20% of the population, has a language based learning disability. Dyslexia is probably the most common of the language based learning disabilities. 
  4. Nearly the same percentage of males and females have dyslexia
  5. Dyslexia can affect anyone regardless of their ethnicity and socioeconomic backgrounds
  6. About three quarters of the children who show primary difficulties with basic reading skills early in reading development can be helped to overcome those difficulties to a large extent. Not all of these children have dyslexia.
  7. Less than 1/3 of the children with reading disabilities are receiving school services for their reading disabilities
  8. The causes for reading difficulty may be neurobiological (caused by differences in the structure and function of the brain), experiential (the student could not learn because of his behavior or inability to pay attention), instructional (the teacher did not provide adequate instruction), or a combination of these factors
  9. At present, there is no genetic or neurological test to diagnose or predict whose problems are primarily neurobiological or which problems are experiential or instructional.
  10. About 5% of the population will have enduring, severe reading disabilities that are very difficult to treat given our current knowledge

Information taken from International Dyslexia Association  

3.3 Why is Early Intervention so Important?

Children do not “grow out of” dyslexia. Early Intervention means less time “behind” the rest of the kids in the class, less struggle, more self confidence. Early intervention will mean an easier time for your child later

Quoting from researcher Elizabeth Aylward – a professor of radiology at the Center o Human Development and Disability regarding early intervention; “Even though dyslexia is a genetically based disorder, there is still enough plasticity in the brain that it can be jump started”

Although dyslexia tend to be resistant to conventional teaching methods, its affects can be mitigated by appropriately specific intervention, including the application of information technology and supportive counseling.

3.4 What Can I do to Help my Child?

First of all, arrange for a proper assessment of the child with a qualified psychologist. A thorough assessment is not for us to “label” a child as dyslexic, but for us to understand the areas of weaknesses caused by the symptoms of dyslexia so that we can better help the child cope with the challenges ahead an help him achieve his fullest potential.

Numerous studies have indicated that children with dyslexia benefit the most when there is intervention involving support from therapists, educators, caregivers, and most important of all “parents participation”

It is crucial that parents should gather as much information on dyslexia as possible. Most researchers agree that dyslexia can be substantially compensated for with proper therapy, training and equipment.

Intense phonological training (often involving breaking down and rearranging sounds to produce different words) can noticeably improve reading skills.

With that said, parents have to be discerning when choosing a therapy to help a dyslexic child. There are a lot of unproven “revolutionary therapies” being offered. There’s little evidence that balance training improves the child’s ability to rapidly and accurately turn a symbol (a letter) into a sound, or a symbol.

Attending training programs offered by registered schools or institutions that are accredited by the governing ministries or universities in one good way to enhance your knowledge of dyslexia. Joining the local national Dyslexia Society/Association is another good way of receiving information and support for both the parent and the child with dyslexia.