What is Dyslexia?
It is a specific learning disorder in academic abilities such as reading, writing and math. According to American Psychiatric Association’s (APA 2001) definition, specific learning disorder is diagnosed with standard testing on individuals with normal or above normal intelligence who have reading comprehension, math and written expression capabilities below average.
It can be diagnosed even if
- The child has a normal intellectual level.
- The child has no physical or emotional dysfunction.
- The child is having a normal and sufficient education.
- The child is in a proper sociocultural environment.
What is not Dyslexia?
- Dyslexia is not a mental illness.
- Dyslexia is not an illness. It doesn’t have a cure or medicine.
- Dyslexia is not caused by the sense organs (seeing, hearing…), emotions or behavioral disorders.
- Dyslexia is not classified as being gifted every time.
- Many of the dyslexics may not have extraordinary abilities most of the time.
What are the Causes of Dyslexia?
The exact cause of dyslexia is not known. A process in the early development of the brain functions (genetic factors, congenital factors, prenatal difficulties, brain damage, etc.…) is suggested to be the cause of the learning disorder.
According to the most accepted theory, dyslexia is originated from the brain and in some areas of the brain there is a problem processing the information.
What are the Symptoms of Dyslexia?
Preschool (ages 3-5)
- Difficulty remembering sounds, words and letters.
- Difficulty remembering the order of the letters in the alphabet, in a word or the order of any given task.
- Mixing the words with the same pronunciation.
- Underachievement in copying and painting.
- Poor memory.
- Having a dyslexic in the family.
- Slow reaction time to some activities. (letter and word games)
- Unwillingness to attend the classes.
- Difficulty learning sounds, words and letters.
- Difficulty following the task.
- Poor word and sound knowledge.
- Difficulty in reading and spelling.
- Unable to organize.
- Behavioral disorder.
Middle School (ages 12-18)
- Difficulty in word and letter formation while reading.
- Spending too much time on homework and written assignments.
- Unable finish task in given time.
- Difficulty in remembering and being organized.
- Being agitated all the time.
- Developing strategies to escape school.
The type of dyslexia related with solving a written text (reading the words correctly by connecting letters and sounds) can be seen when reading capabilities such as reading correctly and fluently is not achieved automatically. The symptoms of a dyslexic child begin at the start of the reading and writing learning process. That is why dyslexia can’t be diagnosed until the child receives a couple years of education but there are many other basic abilities for reading and writing capabilities to improve. The lack of improvement in these abilities can be characteristic clues that can be used to differentiate the individuals with the risk factor.
A dyslexic child finds it difficult to recognize the letters, vocalize the letters, making these actions automatically and resolve quickly. Students with dyslexia have slower and sometimes wrong vocalization of the words compared to their education level.
The common mistakes being made while reading are:
- Mixing similar/homonym letters: d-b-p, m-n, t-f / b-p, t-d, f-v, s-z
- Mixing the letter order in a word: on=no, was=saw,
- Skipping a letter in a word: from=for
- Difficulty learning the alphabet.
- Difficulty pronouncing or writing unfamiliar or rare words.
- Difficulty reading a line until the end or going from right to left to continue reading the line below.
The common mistakes being made while writing are:
- Mixing up the letters
- Letters with the same sounds: p-b, t-d, f-v, k-g
- Letters looking visually the same: b-d, n-u, m-n, f-t, sh-ch
- Letters with the same visual and looking the same: b-d, m-n
- Skipping letters
- Having problems with two voiceless consonants in a word: letter=leter , finally=finaly
- Adding letters
- Repetition of syllables: cafeteria = cafeteteria
- Changing the letter order in a word: house = house
- Orthographic mistakes: morning=morming=norming
They also don’t use capitalization or when used, it is usually misplaced in a sentence. Other punctuations are almost never used. Finally, some of the students subconsciously deform their handwriting to hide their misspelling.
Dyslexia is not about writing comprehension but understanding a written text and difficulty reading fluently can be a secondary effect about the slow development. This effect can eventually lessen the exposure to written material and finally would diminish the acquisition of general culture.
Many individuals with dyslexia find it difficult to memorize sequences (letters in alphabet, months in a year, multiplication table), directions (right, left) and time.
When learning a new language, a dyslexic student is faced with new and bigger obstacles. Learning a second language requires the same abilities as learning a language so same obstacles will have to be faced. That is why individuals who are having difficulties in phonology, writing and syntax will have to endure these challenges with the second language again. (SPARKS, vd 2006) But the degree of these challenges are related with the importance of significance in the second language.
Can Dyslexia Be Cured?
Dyslexia is not a disease and therefore cannot be cured. Dyslexia can be restored and rubbed out to great lengths by special education. However, a dyslexic individual shows the symptoms all through her life. To restore dyslexia an individual diagnosed in early stages must receive special education through out primary years, and an individual with a delayed diagnosis must receive special education through all her school age.
Surveys show us that 83% of the children with early diagnosis in 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree classes in primary schools can lead an unproblematic life if supported with special education. Time and percentages can differ with the length and quality of the education.
What are the Sub Types of Dyslexia?
If a dyslexic individual is reading slowly and making discontinuance and repetition mistakes this type of dyslexia is called sensorial (perceptual – type P) dyslexia.
If a dyslexic individual is reading fast but making word and spelling mistakes his type of dyslexia is called lingual (linguistic – type L) dyslexia.
The difference between the two types of dyslexia is thought to be forming because of the difference of the brain’s right and left hemispheres. For example in L type dyslexia is caused by the dominance of the right hemisphere of the brain and P type dyslexia is just the opposite.