Dyslexia is described as a learning disorder which manifests through difficulties related to learning how to read, write and spell correctly, experiencing problems when it comes to performing word processing operations.
The term dyslexia was first coined in 1896 by Dr. Pringle Morgan in England. This doctor described this condition as one affecting children not on the level of intelligence, since the patients he encountered were all perfectly mentally healthy ones, but, rather, on the level of reading.
Reading Problems in Children
Dyslexia can be present in a specific family, recurring and indicating that there are genetic factors involved in it. Also, there are numerous different types of dyslexia, affecting some people more than others.
About 15% of all American citizens suffer from dyslexia. So, this condition is considered to be the main cause among problems in school. Fortunately, when dyslexia is diagnosed timely and adequately, the chances of helping the affected child increase significantly.
Reading resembles riding a bike in terms of performing a specific set of actions carefully and precisely. Thus, once most of us learn how to read, we never forget it and only improve these skills further. On the other hand, children who suffer from dyslexia have problems in learning the basics necessary for mastering further steps of reading.
Namely, they cannot develop their phonemic awareness and phonics, being incapable of noticing different sounds in the words and letters they pronounce, as well as the effects of combining different sounds in order to produce words. Simply, certain parts of their brains do not process the language information adequately and reading does not become natural and automatic in dyslexics. Rather, the process of reading triggers frustration and a great deal of physical effort.
Moreover, children who suffer from dyslexia commonly mix letters and sounds in words, especially while they are in the first grade. Also, they have problems recognizing words quickly. Thus, they may find it impossible to connect sounds and form a word or to remember a sequence of colors and relate it to linguistic units.
In school, children usually show signs of dyslexia through problems related to learning to talk, pronouncing longer words, rhyming words, learning the alphabet, months of the year, days of the week, names of colors and other such sequences, learning the names and sounds of letters and learning to write their own names.
However, these problems are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to dyslexia in young children. Additionally, they can be unable to identify syllables or speech sounds or the sounds of some simple words. Finally, dyslexia can also manifest through ugly handwriting, due to the fact that certain motor functions can be affected by this condition as well.
When dyslexic children become older, reaching their teenage years, their reading skills may not improve, staying at a child's level. Their spelling does not improve too. Due to these states of affairs, they may be reluctant to write or read, avoiding these actions as often as possible. Naturally, this can lead to problems at school and difficulties related to learning any foreign languages. These children may need more time to finish tests and understand the assignments they get at school and this can influence their performance and success negatively.
First Grade and Dyslexia
The first signs of dyslexia appear when the affected child reaches the first grade, since one's literacy becomes a necessity from this point on. The acquisition of this aspect of language becomes an impossible task for dyslexic children, especially when it comes to recognizing phonemes, being the sounds which form letters and, thereby, words and sentences.
The English Language has 44 phonemes and most people manage to learn how to use them automatically, combining them and manipulating them without any problems. Unfortunately, the dyslexic percentage of the human population is not so lucky. For them, written words like “volcano” and “tornado” may appear the same. However, even though dyslexic children may not notice the difference between the two words, they will know what the objects behind the words are. It is just that their brains cannot relate a specific word for the picture information in its database.
Some dyslexics manage to overcome their problem. They are commonly referred to as compensated dyslexics and they often manage to become very successful at architecture, engineering, science and music.
The treatment for dyslexics needs to start at the first grade, when the first signs of this problem are noticed. Even though many dyslexic children manage to overcome their dyslexia on their own, numerous individuals remain stuck with it later in life. As the years go by, dyslexia gets harder and harder to treat.
Therefore, children, their teachers and their family members need to know as much about this dyslexia as possible, learning how to notice the signs of it and react timely, seeking proper assistance. Through such an early intervention, the child may manage to go through later stages of his/her life without any reading or language manipulation problems.