A number of disorders are known to affect human beings and dyslexia is one such disorder which is defined by different experts in different ways. The World Federation of Neurologists in 1968 defined dyslexia as a disorder common in children where despite the conventional classroom experience they fail to attain language skills of reading, writing and spelling commensurate with their intellectual abilities. The U.S. National Institutes of Health explains dyslexia as a learning disability that hinders a person's ability to read, write, spell and sometimes to speak. This is a very common disability in children persisting throughout the life. The symptoms may range from mild to severe. If treated at very early stage favorable results are obtained but if neglected negative influences are noticed. Children with dyslexia are of average intelligence and always want to learn things. The disorder is caused by impairment in brain's ability to translate images received from brain or ears into understandable language. It is not a result of vision and hearing problems and also does not occur due to mental retardation, brain damage or lack of intelligence.
Dyslexia may remain hidden during the early grades of schooling. Sometimes the child becomes frustrated by the inability to read and other problems disguising dyslexia may also occur later. The child often shows symptoms of depression and self-low esteem. Behavior problems are common both at home as well as in school. The child may become unmotivated and hates going to school. The success of the child at the school is risky if dyslexia is neglected or left untreated.
Causes and Types
Different types of dyslexia are known that affect a child's ability to read, write and spell. Trauma dyslexia is the form of dyslexia that generally occurs after a traumatic brain injury where the area of brain controlling reading and writing is damaged. Its frequency is very rare among today's school going population. Second type of dyslexia is primary dyslexia which arises due to the dysfunction of the left side of brain and it persists throughout life. The children suffering from this type are rarely able to read above fourth-grade level and may struggle with reading, spelling and writing even after becoming adult. It is a gene-linked disorder and may be transferred to the children through parents. The frequency is more in boys than in the girls. Third type is the secondary or developmental dyslexia occurring due to hormonal imbalance during early stages of fetal development. This type generally diminishes when the child grows old and is more noticed among boys in comparison to girls. Dyslexia is known to affect many functions of the body. Visual dyslexia is identified by letter and number reversals and the inability to write symbols in proper sequence. Auditory dyslexia is characterized by difficulty with sounds of letters or groups of letters. The sounds of letters are received as jumbled or not heard properly. Dysgraphia is defined as child's inability to hold and control pencil in order to draw correct markings on a sheet of paper.
Signs and Symptoms
It is really difficult for the classroom teachers to detect whether the child is suffering from dyslexia or not. They can only detect the signs and advise the parents of the child to consult a psychologist or a health professional in order to diagnose the disease or other mental disability associated with the child. Reversal of numbers and letters is the most preliminary symptom of the disorder. Such reversals are very common among the children of age group 7-8 years and generally diminish by that time. If the signs do not diminish it clearly indicates that the child has dyslexia. Difficulty in copying the content from the blackboard or book also indicates towards this disorder. General disorganization of the general class work may also be noticed. The child is not able to remember the contents of his or her favorite video and storybook. Problems noticed in the classroom learning may also be observed during the playground activities. The child may be uncoordinated and finds difficult to associate himself with sports and games. Difficulty with left and right is very common and dominance for either hand has also not established. In early grades of school music and dance are very often used to enhance academic learning but the child faces difficulty to tune himself with music and dance.
Auditory problems in dyslexia include a number of body functions. Generally it is difficult for the child to remember and understand what he hears. Recalling a sequence of things at a time for such child is often very difficult. Parts of words or whole sentences may be found missing and the words spoke by the child may often appear very funny. Although the children with such problem know very well what they want to say but are not able to express. Many subtle signs can be observed in children with this disorder. Children may often appear depressed. They often begin to distract their mind away from learning.
Suggestions for Parents When They Notice Signs and Symptoms of Dyslexia
The first step the parents must follow is that they must consult a pediatrician when their child is suffering from difficulties associated with learning numerals, letters and spelling and remembering them. Apart from this they can also meet the teacher of their child to know about child's performance in school and its activities. In general every school is having a specialized team of experts that regularly meets the parents of the children in order to make them aware about their child's progress and difficulties observed. This specialized team consists of principal, classroom teacher, school psychologist, nurse, speech therapist, reading specialist and other eminent professionals. A parent should always be included in this team. These teams are generally known as Students' Study Team or Child's Study Teams. Any parent of teacher noticing learning problems with any child may request to meet this team in order to discuss the problems associated with the child. The parent may often request to meet the specialists of this team even if the teacher finds that the child is doing well in the class. Sometimes some tests are performed in order to a make a decision and such tests should never be conducted without the permission of the parent.
If a child studying in any private school lacking the team of experts then he or she can be referred to public schools containing such teams so that the problem can be detected. If the problem still fails to be detected then health professionals are the only option for the detection of the problem.
Diagnosis of dyslexia is difficult and there are a number of factors that must be taken into consideration by the psychologist and the health professionals before reaching any conclusion. The test includes the functional reading level of the child and comparing it with the reading potential obtained by performing an intelligence test. The test further focuses on the information processing of the child. The test also determines whether the child learns information by hearing or looking at the information or by doing something. The test also evaluates whether the child performs better when a set of information is given to the child by saying something or by doing something by hands. The test also analyses how the sensory system in such child works when a set of information is provided. The tests are standardized and are considered reliable. The child should not feel disheartened as something bad is going to occur with him during the test. Many tests include game-type or puzzle format so that the child may feel comfortable. The child must take a good night's sleep and sufficient breakfast before carried out for the tests. If the testing is to be done in a classroom setting then the teacher must prepare the child for the test so that the child may feel comfortable during the test.
Before undergoing any treatment evaluation must be done regarding the specific area of disability of the child. Although a number of theories have been predicted regarding the treatment of dyslexia but there is no actual cure against this disorder. The school can develop a plan after meeting the parents of the child in order to understand its need and if the plan fails to give successful results the child can be transferred to a school specially meant for dyslexic children for better care. Techniques have been designed where all the senses of the child can work together simultaneously at a time. Computers are the best tools that help the child to learn and understand better.
A Bollywood movie Taare Zameen Par orients around dyslexia where the child named Eshaan suffers from visual dyslexia and was taught and trained by his teacher.