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Dyslexia is more common than you think

Sep 19, 2013

Dyslexia affects a person’s ability to deal with language, including spoken language as well as written, writes Surabhi Verma, Director of Sparsh for Children, an organisation working for the welfare of differently-abled children.

Surabhi Verma

“Ravi is a student of first standard in a regular school with class strength of 40 children. There have been consistent complaints from his teacher that Ravi has not been able to complete his work, his writing is illegible, makes many spelling errors, cannot concentrate on his work, disturbs other children in the class and is not able to organise his work or books or his table.

He is often punished for not doing his work and bad behavior and is asked to stand outside the classroom.

The parents are worried as Ravi has started ignoring his studies; tries to find ways not to do the work and does not have any friends. The parents were suggested to go for a psychological evaluation and Ravi was diagnosed with Dyslexia.”

Ravi is not alone; there are many children who face similar problems. Fortunately for Ravi, the diagnosis was made early on whereas in many cases, children suffer with low self esteem and many other social and emotional difficulties due to lack of diagnosis.

So what exactly is Dyslexia and how does it affect a child?

Dyslexia is a learning style with strengths & weaknesses that require appropriate intervention.

Dyslexia is a neurological disorder, often hereditary and a condition that you are born with.

Dyslexia affects a person’s ability to deal with language, including spoken language as well as written. A person with Dyslexia can have difficulty understanding, remembering, organizing and using verbal symbols. Most have average or above-average intelligence, and if proper guidance is provided, they overcome their learning problems.

The child with dyslexia might face difficulties in many areas which can be a combination of the Reading: Learners can have trouble with the decoding of words, fluent reading from left to right, and/or reading comprehension.

• Spelling: child is unable to retain the picture associated with words, which help us to remember spellings better.

• Phonemic Awareness:  Students have difficulty identifying sounds, knowing how many sounds there are, and the sequence in which sounds occur in words.

• Auditory Discrimination: The inability to easily hear the small differences between sounds which leads to difficulty in acquisition of language skills.

• Handwriting: Eye hand coordination immaturity and other problems can make it difficult for students to hold the pencil and manipulate it to draw and write correctly.

• Creative writing: Organizing thoughts to put into writing is very difficult for our children thus this is the area of great frustration and fear.

• Math: Keeping track of where numbers are placed during computation problems can be • Visual Motor Perception: This can affect two areas: the axis on which shapes can rotate, thus creating reversals in reading & writing, and the speed at which the students can perform the eye hand co-ordination tasks.

• Gross Motor Coordination: Balance can be a particular concern.

• Developmental Milestones: Some people with Dyslexia seem to mature physically at a slower rate than the average population.

• ADD and ADHD: ADD is the inability to attend to outside stimuli or instructions. ADHD is physical hyperactivity.

• Speech & Language: Problems can occur in articulation or in fluency.

• Organization: Students can have trouble organizing both space and time.

• Rote Memory tasks: Words that have little meaning like date and year are especially

• Social and Behavioral: The child will find difficulty in interacting with same age peers and need instruction to respond appropriately to social cues.

• Emotional: Most children with dyslexia have some sort of emotional struggle which is the resultant feeling due to inability to cope up with traditional curriculum.

As in Ravi’s case, he became fearful because of his constant frustration and confusion in school. Similarly many children with Dyslexia may anticipate failure and entering new situations can become extremely anxiety provoking. Often, the child sits on his anger during school to the point of being extremely passive. However, once he is in a safe environment at home, these very powerful feelings erupt and are often directed towards the mother. Ironically, it is the child's trust in the mother that allows him to vent his anger. However, this becomes very frustrating and confusing to the parents who are desperately trying to help their child.

As the major problem is in studies, the teachers might be the first one to observe that there is something different. Thus the teachers need to be sensitive towards the problem and should be the first ones to take the initiative to help the child. Although dyslexia is there for life, children with dyslexia frequently respond successfully to timely and appropriate intervention. Both teachers and parents need to offer consistent, ongoing encouragement and support.

For the society, it is imperative that they do not treat children like Ravi, any differently. It is important that one should not remind them of their shortcomings and should give them the confidence that there is nothing to be ashamed of. It is also important for the teachers and the parents not to compare them with other children as no two children are alike.

It is very important not to give up on expectations from the child as they are very intelligent and have above average IQ’s. It is also crucial to provide them with the necessary help and support to reach the goals. It is our responsibility as a society to provide them with a healthy and a positive environment for them to grow and one should not hesitate to advocate for the children with dyslexia.

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