Dyslexia Among Students and Adults

One of the most common learning disorders prevalent among students and adults is dyslexia.  Dyslexia is a disorder in which areas of the brain process reading and language differently.  It is a language-based disability that affects the ability to read, comprehend and speak written language.  “It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have Dyslexia” (Austin Learning Solutions. n.d.)  Those with this disorder face adversities and often criticism by others.  While this is not a disorder that is life threatening, it is one that can affect the daily functions in one’s life and can lead to long-term educational, social and economic consequences..

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Dyslexia is not a disorder that one may recognize easily.  It isn’t easily identified, but there are symptoms that can be examined and strategies that can be implemented to help those with this disorder. Research has shown that this disorder is hereditary.  “Dyslexia tends to run in families. It appears to be linked to certain genes and affect how the brain processes reading and language, as well as risk factors in the environment” (Mayo Clinic, 2017).  Dyslexia can also be traced back to a mother’s use of nicotine, drugs, alcohol, or infection during pregnancy. Dyslexia can create complications if it is not diagnosed and treated.  A child with Dyslexia can struggle in school to learn, have trouble keeping up with their peers and develop social friendships.  Adults can struggle to in their daily lives to sustain a job, maintain financial stability and develop relationships. While there is no cure for Dyslexia, there are many things that can help to alleviate social awkwardness and support academic success.

Identifying Dyslexia is not always easily identifiable. It is important to understand that people who are diagnosed with this disorder do not lack motivation. They usually have normal intelligence and vision. In fact, there are many people who are diagnosed with Dyslexia and are above average in intelligence. In fact, there are many very successful people in this world that have had Dyslexia and still do certain things at a very high level. For example, businessman Charles Schwab, patron David Rockefeller, and even the great Albert Einstein all had Dyslexia. There are also different degrees of severity of this disorder.  These degrees can “vary from person to person due to inherited differences in the brain” International Dyslexia Association (2017). Research has also shown that those with this disorder often have exceptionalities in art, music, math and technology.  Dyslexia does not discriminate.  It affects all backgrounds and intellectual levels.

Experts believe that “Dyslexia is by far the most common learning disability, which affects five percent or more of all elementary age children” Beatrice Motamedi (2017).  In small children, it is often difficult to diagnose one with this disorder, because of different developmental factors.  Not all children progress at the same rate, some children could have been born pre-maturely, and some come from low socio-economic conditions that they haven’t been exposed to a lot of environmental print.  It is not uncommon for a child to be a “late talker”, call out words differently, reverse sounds, and have trouble remembering concepts or recalling things.  However, by the time that a child begins school, these issues usually disappear.  If these symptoms are still prevalent, then it would intensify the disorder by creating learning delays in decoding, pronouncing words, spelling, reading and processing information. Children who show symptoms of Dyslexia also have trouble listening and following directions. Students with Dyslexia may also have trouble putting ideas on paper while writing, the uncertainty at times of which is their left and right, and trouble spelling words that are often not misspelled at a young age. Teachers have been trained to identify these symptoms and help parents to seek professional opinions.  They have also been trained to help students by providing them with teaching strategies to help them be successful. With assistance, support and hard work, children with Dyslexia can become successful and productive adults.

Adults that have this disorder can also have different levels of Dyslexia.  Those that were identified as a child as having this disorder, have an advantage by having been taught strategies to help manage and cope with this disorder.  Those adults that were not diagnosed, struggle more in their day to day life because their symptoms intensify and they can struggle with anxiety, being unable to complete work tasks, have trouble understanding jokes and expressions, and have social awkwardness.

While having Dyslexia is a common learning disorder in classrooms across America, it is important to have effective yet different instructional strategies intact for these common cases to ensure every child can succeed to their highest potential. There are many things that teachers can do in the classroom to lessen anxiety and promote success in the classroom. Allowing extra time to complete assignments for students with Dyslexia can help, helping with taking notes, modifying assignments, using sensory activities, physical activities and assistive technology devices are among the best practices.

One strategy that teachers can use is using Multisensory Learning. This unique strategy uses creative ways to write words or sentences. For example: using glitter, sand, colored ink, LEGO’s, and/or pasta to write out words or phrases that one with Dyslexia may struggle with can help with recognition and retention. The use of physical activities such as: jump rope, hop scotch, or playing games can be useful for helping one get their mind off thinking solely about the words the Dyslexic student struggles with is another strategy that can be used. A third strategy is having/using Assistive Technology in the classroom to support students. Technology is abundant in today’s world and schools have access to tablets, computers and other technology devices to help students.  Computers have spell checkers, scanning software and speech recognition programs built in. Many of us, including students, have smartphones that have “text-to-speech” software built in.  In today’s world, technology tools are being developed daily. From colored keyboards to software programs, we have more strategies and assistive products to help us overcome problems, build our self-esteem and reduce anxieties of being different.  Of course, the biggest thing a teacher can do in ensuring he or she has an effective instructional strategy for dyslexic students is working hand and hand with the student’s parents. Meeting with the parents regularly is important to discuss strategies applied in the classroom and making sure both parties are up to date on methods that show signs of success at home and in the academic community. Each student is different and because of that, each student will have different methods of learning but practicing effective instructional strategies in classroom communities that contain a dyslexic student is the only way to ensure each student is getting what he or she needs to succeed at their highest potential like Albert Einstein.

Dyslexia is a disorder… not a death sentence.  It is not something that can be treated with medication or will just go way in time. Dyslexia is one of the most common learning disorders in the world.  Among those who have Dyslexia, are some of the greatest human beings that have contributed so much to our world.  It is important for us educators to recognize the symptoms of Dyslexia, so that we may provide strategies for students to help them be successful in the classroom and to help them become productive members of society.  It is important to also note that these “exceptional” people have so many great qualities. Their difficulties in reading, comprehending or processing information are just small hurdles in their potential to become successful adults.  By providing them with attention, patience and understanding, we can help them overcome their anxieties and become confident able learners.

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