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Learning Disabilities - Dyslexia

What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability, which results in the person having difficulties with reading, writing, spelling and sometimes speaking.  Short-term memory, mathematics, concentration, personal organisation and sequencing may be affected.

In dyslexic people, the brain has been wired to process information differently. It doesn't mean that a dyslexic person is slow, disabled or not motivated to learn.  On the contrary, dyslexic people can be quite brilliant in other areas and many famous, successful people have been identified as dyslexic.

In fact, dyslexia can be seen as a gift. "Dyslexic people are visual, multi-dimensional thinkers. We are intuitive and highly creative, and excel at hands-on learning. Because we think in pictures, it is sometimes hard for us to understand letters, numbers, symbols, and written words.

We can learn to read, write and study efficiently when we use methods geared to our unique learning style."(source Ron D Davis, www.dyslexia.com)

As parents and teachers, we need to be able to identify dyslexia and be able to change our teaching strategies to accommodate the different needs of these children.

Common Signs of Dyslexia

If a person displays difficulties in the following areas, testing for dyslexia is recommended.

  • writing letters in the wrong order or back to front

  • sounding out words

  • identifying the correct sounds of letters

  • pronouncing words properly

  • spelling words

  • learning alphabet, numbers, days of the week, months of the year - basic sequencing information

  • reading with age-appropriate speed and accuracy

  • reading comprehension

  • learning number facts

Not all signs occur in all dyslexics and the severity can vary from mild to severe. Formal testing is the only way to truly determine whether or not a person is dyslexic.

Treatment

Dyslexia cannot be cured and it's a life long condition.  But the difficulties it presents can be overcome with the right teaching. Early identification and intervention is the key to helping dyslexics overcome their difficulties and achieve success in school and in life. 

Practical ideas for managing Dyslexia

Research has shown that a multi-sensory approach is the most effective way to teach the dyslexic student.  Multi-sensory means using all of the senses to process information, particularly including touch and movement.  Dyslexic children need the extra information they gain from feeling and moving to help make sense of the information going in.  For instance, when learning to write letters, it's not enough for them to see it.  They will need to trace the shape with their fingers, feel the shape of it as well as seeing or hearing it.

The following ideas can also help:

  • Early exposure to oral reading, writing, drawing and practice to encourage development of print knowledge, basic letter formation and recognition skills and linguistic awareness (the relationship between sound and meaning)
  • Practice reading different kinds of texts (i.e., books, magazines, advertisements, comics)
  • Multi-sensory, structured language instruction and practice using sight, sound and touch when introducing new ideas
  • Modifying classroom procedures to allow for extra time to complete assignments, help with note-taking, oral testing and other means of assessment
  • Using books-on-tape and assistive technology such as screen readers and voice recognition computer software
  • Help with the emotional issues that arise from struggling to overcome academic difficulties.   (source: www.ld.org/LDInfoZone/InfoZone_FactSheet_Dyslexia.cfm)

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