Dealing with Dyslexia (Part 1)

Dyslexia is something that I’ve heard about my entire adult life as a teacher. But my knowledge has been fairly superficial until now.

Recently I found out that several of my family members are dyslexic. Some are children, one is an adult. Seeing their struggles – at various stages of life – has triggered an interest in me to find out more about dyslexia.

One of the first statistics I came across is that dyslexia affects many children (as many as 1 in 5), so if my research can be helpful, I want to share.

What Is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a recent word but not a new concept. For centuries, people have described children who are bright and developmentally normal in every way but can’t learn to read. An older term for dyslexia was “word blindness” which is a pretty good way to sum it up.

A more modern way of describing dyslexia is “lack of phonemic awareness”, which basically means that the dyslexic child is unable to effectively connect letters (symbols) with their sounds.

Dyslexia as a whole is actually a complex set of issues that can include:

~ Difficulty recognizing letters and their sounds
~ Difficulty holding a pencil and forming letters (dysgraphia)
~ Difficulty with reading comprehension, i.e. determining the meaning of a sentence
~ Difficulty with spelling
~ Vision or eye tracking issues
~ Irlen Syndrome – sensitivity to black text on a white background

The World Federation of Neurology defines dyslexia as “a disorder manifested by difficulty in learning to read despite conventional instruction, adequate intelligence and sociocultural opportunity.” In other words, if a child has every opportunity to learn to read, and is smart enough to learn to read, and can’t, they are probably dyslexic.

Checklist of Dyslexia Symptoms

While one in five children are dyslexic, the severity of dyslexia can vary. Symptoms can be mild enough to be barely noticeable; in other cases, children may be profoundly dyslexic. Some children may have every symptom on this list, while others only a few. Frequent indicators include but are not limited to:

~ Can read a word on one page, but not on the next page
~ Frequent guessing of unknown words based on context or pictures
~ Knows the phonetic sound of individual letters, but can’t sound out an unknown word
~ Slow, inaccurate reading of words in isolation (when there is no story line or pictures)
~ When reading aloud, reads in a slow, choppy cadence and often ignores punctuation
~ Becomes visibly tired after reading for only a short time
~ Reading comprehension is low due to spending so much energy trying to figure out words
~ Listening comprehension is usually significantly higher than reading comprehension
~ Directionality confusion shows up when reading and when writing (confusing b,d,p,q)
~ Misreads, omits, or adds small function words such as anafromthetowereareof
~ Omits or changes suffixes, saying need for neededtalks for talking, or late for lately
~ When reading a story or a sentence, substitutes a word that means the same thing but doesn’t look at all similar, such as trip for journeyfast for speed, or cry for weep
~ Substitutes similar-looking words, even if it changes the meaning of the sentence, such as sunrise for surprise or house for horse

By: Lori Bourne