Learning to read and write can be a challenging task but imagine if you had a learning disability. This task would become much more difficult and you would have to work twice as hard as your peers. Although there are many different types of learning disabilities, this paper will be discussing the learning disability called dyslexia.
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The signs, causes, and treatments of dyslexia will be discussed thoroughly as well as how dyslexia affects a child’s reading and writing skills. It is important to note that just because a person struggles with a learning disability it does not mean they are not intelligent. Some of the greatest minds to walk this earth had dyslexia.
Dyslexia is defined as a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge (Dickson, 2017). According to the National institute of child and human development it is estimated that 12-20% of individuals have some form of learning disability with dyslexia being the most common of them all (Miller, 2017). Dyslexia can cause great difficulty in many areas inside and outside of school. Among these struggles are reading, writing, and even speaking.
Children with dyslexia will present many different signs or symptoms which are usually noticed by the child’s teacher or caregivers and could look different depending on the age of the child. For preschool age children signs to look for are speaking as a younger child, having difficulty calling things by the correct name, struggling with rhymes, and not following directions (Lapkin, 2014). A grade school age child will present trouble sounding out new words, getting confused or bored by reading books, not able to remember details they read, and mixing up the order of letters (Lapkin, 2014). Middle school aged children read very slowly, has trouble finding the correct words to say, struggles with writing assignments, and struggling to fit in (Lapkin, 2014). If a child seems to be struggling with any of the signs above it is important to observe and take note of these difficulties to present to the child’s doctor and educators (Lapkin, 2014).
Although there are many signs to look for when diagnosing dyslexia, it is interesting to research the different causes that can create this learning disability. According to Dr. David Perlstein, dyslexia is thought to be caused by impairment in the brain’s ability to process phonemes (Perlstein, 2018). Dr. Perlstein also says that with primary dyslexia hereditary factors are the most researched. Recently it has been identified that specific genes contribute to the signs and symptoms of dyslexia. This is very important because it will allow for earlier educational interventions as well as better outcomes (Perlstein, 2018). There is a small percentage of children that will acquire dyslexia after they are born. Usually in these cases it is caused due to a brain injury, stroke or other types of trauma (Nordqvist, 2017).
As discussed throughout this paper dyslexia is a learning disability that can cause difficulties in many different areas. Primarily reading is the most common struggle among children as dyslexia affects the ability to process phonemes. Phonemes are the basic sounds of speech, so when you have dyslexia it becomes a difficult task to make the connection between the letter sound and the letter symbol for that sound (Zettler-Greely, 2018). Common issues among reading is having difficulty “sounding out” and pronouncing words when reading. Being able to read smoothly or stay interested in a book is also a common problem among dyslexics (Lapkin, 2014). With a dyslexic child it is crucial to understand that not all children learn to read in the same way and it is important to find a reading method that works best for him/her (Visclosky & Laule, 2018). A common method to help struggling readers is the Orton Gillingham approach. This approach is multi-faceted and was created specifically for dyslexics. It teaches reading writing and spelling using auditory, visual and tactile measures (Wolf, 2007). What works for one child may not work for the other, but fortunately there are many different reading strategies that can help a struggling reader. Working with the child’s educators within their school is often a good place to start when looking for different strategies.
Reading goes hand and hand with writing, so an issue with writing will also be difficult for a child with dyslexia. The ability to master the rules of spelling and grammar will be a struggle, as well is writing letters, numbers, and symbols in the correct order (Lapkin, 2014).
Listening, taking notes, and organizing and proofreading written work are all issues related to dyslexia (Lapkin, 2014). The common problems with writing are spelling and handwriting. Often times students will choose words they know how to spell rather than words they want to use ((mjm33, 2012). Other ways dyslexia affect writing skills are essays are written as one paragraph in several run on sentences, using very little punctuation, odd or no spacing between words (Bailey, 2018). Writing can become an extremely frustrating task for children with dyslexia, but there are some strategies that can help them with writing. A specific program tailored for dyslexic students is called Cowriter. Cowriter is a program that eliminates the pain of spelling and predicts words. Children can enter the beginning sound of a word they want to use and it will present a list of six words to choose from (Jenkins, 2017). Luckily, we live in a time where technology has grown immensely, and it can do wonders in helping students with learning disabilities.
Even though dyslexia can be challenging and frustrating for the child, giving them a great support system can help them excel inside and outside of the school and go on to accomplish great things! It takes great perseverance and hard work from not only the child, but the teachers and parents as well.
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