What is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a form of a learning disability characterized by difficulties in reading and writing. As is the case with many psychological disorders, the instances of dyslexia range from fairly mild to really severe. Individuals suffering from dyslexia have trouble with verbal processing speed, phonological awareness and verbal memory. Verbal processing speed refers to the time it takes for an individual to recognize already learned letters and digits. For example, dyslexic individual takes a little longer to realize that the letters “C”, “N”, “N” correspond to the name of the television channel CNN.
Phonological awareness refers to one’s ability to understand how words are formed by sounds, or phonemes. Phonological awareness is viewed as the most important skill in learning to read and write. Once the individual is able to recognize that change in sounds that makes up words results in the change of the meaning, reading and writing come easy. On the other hand, dyslexic individuals have difficulty understanding that if you change the letter “c” in “cat” to the letter “b” that the word becomes “bat”.
Finally, verbal memory refers to the ability to remember verbal information for some period of time. For instance, verbal memory comes in handy when parents give instructions such as “put your shoes and coat on before you leave the house”. It is a common misconception that learning disabilities are necessarily related to low intellectual abilities. There haven’t been any clinical studies which showed that dyslexia is in any way connected to intelligence, so it is no surprise that children with both low and high IQs can be dyslexic. For instance, an individual with average intelligence and mild dyslexia is likely to be better at reading and writing than a child with above average intelligence and severe dyslexia.
How Is It Diagnosed in Children?When it comes to diagnosing most learning disabilities numerous individuals are involved, including the child in question, the parents or care givers, teachers, psychologists, and primary health care providers. One of the first steps in diagnosing dyslexia is filing out an assessment questionnaire where the parents will find some general questions, such as the overall health, and the ability to perform certain daily tasks. After the introductory assessment is completed a battery of tests will follow, usually administered by a child psychologist. Anyone who is performing the assessment will be interested in observing the child in their natural learning environment as well as getting as much information from both the parents and the teachers. The tests which are administered for most learning disabilities include organizational skills, speed of learning new concept as well as processing visual and audio stimuli, reasoning, memory and language and vocabulary development. Dyslexia is set apart from other disorders by the child`s inability to read and write compared to his or her peers while proper teaching methods had been employed. Once the assessment is completed the parents are given the final report which will include the child`s strengths and weaknesses and instructions on how to work with the child to nurture those strengths while at the same time working on the improvement of the weaknesses. Regardless of how mild or severe a learning disability may be it is very important for both the parents and the teachers to be equipped with methods for helping the child realize his or her full potential. In some instances, the case of dyslexia may be manageable by the teachers and the school`s resources. On the other hand, there are children who do not show improvement despite the school having undertaken the appropriate measures so it is advised that the child is further treated by a psychologist or a speech specialist. Another aspect of treatment includes enrolling the child into a Special Education Program which sets different goals for the pupil. Also, early educational interventions, preferably before the age of 7 or 8, have proved to be highly effective long term solutions for dyslexic individuals. In England, for instance, over 60 such programs are employed via different institutions. In most cases programs which focus on improving the child`s phonological abilities subsequently yield the most results when it comes to reading and writing.
Brain Scan for Dyslexia DiagnosisThere have been many clinical studies attempting to discover more about dyslexia, including being able to observe the changes in the brain of the affected individuals via image scanning. For instance, one research study used PET scans to compare the blood flow in the brain between dyslexic and non dyslexic men. The results showed that for non dyslexic subjects the stronger activation of the left hemisphere in the brain was correlated with better reading skills. On the other hand, the dyslexic subjects with more left hemisphere activity had far more reading problems. The dyslexic men relied substantially on their right hemisphere in order to read.