Children and Dyslexia
Dyslexia is a learning disorder that is often referred to as a reading disability. It is a condition that affects areas of the brain that process language. According to Understood.org, children with dyslexia have difficulty reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and their ability to decode words. The condition can affect other areas of learning such as spelling, reading comprehension, writing, and math. Students with dyslexia also tend to struggle with focusing and organizational skills, as well as social skills in many cases. The area of focus with dyslexic students is the problem with reading accuracy and fluency.
Scientific research provides information on the possible causes of dyslexia in children. One of the leading cause of dyslexia is genetics. Hereditary genes can be passed down in families that cause speech and reading impairments. HealthPrep.com explains the specific genes associated with dyslexia. The genes have been named “dyslexia loci DYX1-9” by the Human Genome Nomenclature Committee. While chances of dyslexia are increased with inheritance, genes can also malfunction within an individual causing the disability without inheriting the gene.
Other factors can also play a role in the cause of dyslexia in children. Low birth rate and premature births can also cause dyslexia in children. Low birth weight and premature births should also be considered when diagnosing a child with this learning disability. Studies have linked reading deficit in children who had low birth weights as compared to those who had normal birth weights (HealthPrep Staff, 2016). A low birth weight in a child can slow the process of brain development, increasing their chances of developing dyslexia. Studies have also shown poor cognition, behavioral problems, and emotional instability in children with low birth weights (HealthPrep Staff, 2016). All of which can be linked to dyslexia. Premature birth can also cause learning disabilities such as dyslexia for the same issue in poor brain development. When a baby is born premature, the birthing process and stress of separation from the womb cause much stress on the infant. This, along with the brain being underdeveloped due to early birth, can increase the risk of later developed brain disorders. Environmental factors such as a mother’s exposure to smoking and alcohol can be a cause of dyslexia as well.
The brain disorder known as dyslexia is often misconceived to be a problem with vision. Because a child with a visual perception issue may have trouble processing the words he or she sees on a page, it could lead to some confusion as to whether a dyslexic child is struggling in the same way. The difference between a visual processing issue and a language processing issue is that the latter affects the way the brain processes language where visual processing causes trouble with what a child sees through their eyes (The Understood Team, 2018). Another difference is that visual perception and processing issues can be corrected with glasses, whereas a language processing issue cannot.
Unfortunately, a person cannot outgrow dyslexia. There is no cure for the disorder. But there are several types of therapy, coping strategies, and technology tools that can help children and adults be successful in school and in life despite the brain disorder. With the proper intervention, neuroplasticity can occur, and the brain can begin to function more accurately. For this reason, it is best to be aware of the signs and symptoms and begin treatment as early as possible. (The Understood Team, 2018)
There are numerous signs and symptoms to watch for in young children that may have dyslexia. According to recent studies by Despres (2018), delayed speech is among the more common signs in young age children. Displaying difficulty with rhyming words and letter sequencing can also be something to watch for. Slow development of fine motor skills, mixing up sounds and letters, and difficulty with phonemic awareness are also signs of possible dyslexia. Children with dyslexia struggle with associating letter sounds to the appropriate letter as well as blending sounds together to form a word.
Parents can help their dyslexic child by encouraging and supporting their efforts. Children with learning disabilities are in constant need of a support system that overpowers their poor self-esteem. Anxiety and self-confidence plays a major role in the performance of a dyslexic child and it is important for parents to be aware of this and act accordingly in an encouraging manner. Listening to the child and encouraging them to express their feelings and rewarding the child for effort as opposed to “product” can help lead the child to success at school and at home (Ryan, 2004).
There are accommodations that can be made in the classroom as well that can help teachers support students with dyslexia. The number one thing a teacher can do is abide by all accommodations listed in a student’s Individualized Educational Plan. This plan will provide necessary actions that need to be taken by the teacher to provide the most appropriate education specifically designed to the needs of that child. As mentioned for parents, teachers should also reward for effort rather than “product,” as it is important for dyslexic students to receive encouragement for progress above grades (Ryan, 2018). Teachers should also be considerate when calling upon oral readers, avoiding asking the student to read aloud in class. Dyslexic students should have the opportunity to be graded more on content than spelling in the classroom. Teachers can also provide typing tools for assignments that involve excessive writing and provide an outline of notes or study guides to help dyslexic students be more successful.
In conclusion, dyslexia is a reading disability that causes children to struggle academically and sometimes socially and can be caused by several factors. While dyslexia can mimic in some ways a visual processing disorder, there are clear differences between the two of which parents and educators alike should consider when noticing signs of poor phonemic awareness in young children. Parents and teachers must do their part in helping their dyslexic child and student succeed in and out of the classroom. With the proper intervention, children who are diagnosed with dyslexia can grow into academically sound students and greatly successful adults.
Children and Dyslexia