What is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a term many of us have heard and we associate it with people who struggle with reading and writing or confuse b and d but few people know much about this neurological condition which affects 10-15% of the UK population.
Dyslexia, sometimes termed word blindness, has been documented for over 100 years. The first recorded case of dyslexia appeared in the British medical journal in 1896. W. Pringle Morgan, described the case of 14-year-old, Percy F, who could not read and wrote his name as Precy, but he could multiply 749 by 887 quickly and correctly.
There have been many famous dyslexics such as Richard Branson, Albert Einstein, Walt Disney and Agatha Christie to name a few. Dyslexics tend to be very creative and often Entrepreneurial.
The British Dyslexic Association defines dyslexia as:
“Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty which mainly affects the development of literacy and language related skills. It is likely to be present at birth and to be lifelong in its effects. It is characterised by difficulties with phonological processing, rapid naming, working memory, processing speed, and the automatic development of skills that may not match up to an individual’s other cognitive abilities”.
In a modern world, where reading, writing and maths are given high status and employment opportunities depend on mastery of these skills parents can become worried when their child is not achieving in line with their peer group.
What should parents look out for?
- Delayed speech
- Difficulties in converting speech sounds (phonemes) into written text (graphemes), resulting in their reading and writing being below that expected for their IQ.
- Confusion over the letters b and d after the age of 8
- Difficulty in recalling times tables or sequences such as days of the week and months of the year.
- Poor organisational skills
- difficulty copying text which is increased when copying from a board
- Slow reading speed
- Poor sight words
- Adding in/missing out letters when reading or spelling
- Guessing words
- Reversal of words when reading or spelling (on/no, was/saw)
- Difficulty mastering new skills
- Difficulty transferring thoughts to paper
This is not an exhaustive list but good signs to watch out for.
Research into Dyslexia
There has been much research into the causes of dyslexia and this is still ongoing. It is believed that dyslexia is caused by an hereditary gene (although this is not always the case). A dyslexic’s brain works differently to a non-dyslexics and there is less activity in the language areas of the brain during reading and writing.
If you are concerned about your child what can you do?
1) Talk to your child’s class teacher, Special Educational Needs Teacher (SENCO)
2) Request a dyslexia screening test, especially if there is a family history of these difficulties
3) Follow a systematic multi-sensory programme such as Alpha to Omega or Toe by toe
4) Find a qualified specialist to assist
A dyslexic student will need a multi-sensory approach to learning reading and spelling. This will need to be very structured in filling in the phonic gaps.
Seeing, hearing, saying, writing, feeling/ making. The student will need to engage as many senses as possible in order to stimulate the language areas of the brain.
It is beneficial for the dyslexic to join their handwriting as this helps them to remember the word shape.
Using the sense of touch
The use of sandpaper letters with a blindfold (removing the sense of sight heightens the sense of touch), play dough, sand, drawing in the air/ on the child’s back will increase the number of senses a child uses, stimulating the language areas of the brain.
A Neuro-Science Solution
For some children a more intense solution is needed. When the traditional approach fails and a student hits a brick wall a more drastic solution is required. As dyslexics under use certain parts of their brain and overuse others (compared to a non-dyslexic reader).
it may be necessary to use neuro-science research (which shows that the brain can change itself) to treat the underlying cause. Cellfield is an innovative, proven, sustainable treatment for dyslexia and is available in the UK. Cellfield takes a multi-disciplinary approach, building on neuro-science research to stimulate the auditory and visual parts of the brain and make the messaging between these areas more precise.
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