The term Dyslexia is used very loosely nowadays. A lot of people freely use this term to brand children or individuals alike that has a difficulty in learning. Although, this may be true, Dyslexia is only one kind of learning disability that has been identified. For the reason that less is known about this condition, it is hard to spot a dyslexic child in a class room full of children. Due to this difficulty, children who are suffering from dyslexia do not get the proper and right attention they so really need. Dyslexic children do not learn things the way a normal child does.
They see things differently and interpret things in another way. Therefore, these children need the best utmost care that they can get in order for them to grow up as productive individuals and efficient members of the society. It is important to reiterate that dyslexia does not have an effect on the entire intelligence factor of an individual. There are just mechanisms in his or her brain than interpret things the other way, may have difficulty in reading and spelling, but this individual may excel in other things in accordance to his or her age level.
This paper would discuss the condition that is Dyslexia, its sign and symptoms and the available treatment. The paper would also tackle the experience of a dyslexic individual and the new teaching strategies on how to help them learn. II. What is Dyslexia? A. Brief History Dyslexia, in a proper definition, “is a developmental disability in reading or spelling, generally becoming evident in early schooling” (Columbia Encyclopedia, 2004).
Dyslexia therefore is a learning disability with specific problem in reading and spelling. A dyslexic has a different way of reading letters and words. A dyslexic child may be able to read a mirror image of a word than reading it in a normal way; or a dyslexic child may spell a word backwards rather than the traditional way of spelling from the beginning. There are also accounts of a child having difficulty with Mathematics but, this difficulty is not as grave as reading and spelling.
Since reading is one of the main components of learning, a difficulty in this area would result in slow, retarded development and learning incapability that can not be corrected unless properly spotted. Dyslexia came from the Greek word /Dys/ and /lexis/ which literally means impair word, or impaired word (Columbia Encyclopedia, 2004). The term dyslexia was first used in 1872 by a German Physician R. Berlin, on an adult patient who has acquired dyslexia, or a deficit in reading ability caused by a brain lesion (Gayan,2001).
However, it was in 1896 when an article published in the British Medical Journal written by a general doctor, W. Pringle Morgan, about intelligent fourteen-year old boys who could not learn how to read. It was considered as one of the first reports about congenital blindness. With this article, Morgan is recognized as the father of developmental dyslexia (Gayan, 2001). It was believed during those times that the inability to read has something to do with the visual pathway of the brain. However, later researches spearheaded by Dr.
Samuel T. Orton, a neurologist who studied the symptoms of a boy similar to those adults who had a stroke, paved the way about a series of events that lead to difficulty to reading but is unrelated to brain damage. He concluded that the inability of the individual to read does not have anything to do with visual deficit, but rather a delayed and twisted interpretation of the symbols due to lack of hemispheric dominance. He called this twisted signs or “strephosymbolia” that focuses on reversal errors (cited in Orton, 1928).
Advance research studies supplemented Orton’s conclusion through magnetic resonance imaging proving that the part of the brain responsible for language processing or the left planum temporale is larger than the corresponding right area for non-dyslexic patients, while in dyslexic individuals these parts of the brain is symmetrical or the right side is slightly larger than the left (cited in Galaburda, Menard, Rosen, 1994). Thus stating, dyslexia was divided into subtypes. 1) Dysphonetic or Auditory Dyslexia-most predominant type that is associated with difficulty of connecting sounds to symbols.
2) Dyseidetic or Visual Dyslexia- inability to develop a sight word vocabulary, slow and laborious reading. 3) Rapid Automatic Naming or Double Deficit – impaired mental timing system. During those times, dyslexia was only exclusively treated by the medical field. It was only in recent times that dyslexia was addressed properly in reference to education and learning disability. Dyslexia is not only a neurological problem but also encompasses the learning field and must be also addressed accordingly on how to improve the quality of education for dyslexic individuals.
B. Signs and Symptoms The symptoms exhibited by dyslexic individuals is closely related to other disorders such as Attention-deficit hyperactivity Disorder, auditory processing disorder, developmental dyspraxia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia (cited in Dalby, 1985). Usually, this disorders display poor short-tem memory skills, poor personal organization skills, problems processing spoken language, left-right confusion, difficulties with numeracy or arithmetic and issues with balance and coordination (cited in Murphy, 2004).
However, there is no definite set of symptoms that would easily identify an individual with dyslexia. Dyslexia exhibits a series of symptoms that are not specific to this disorder. Therefore, dyslexia is a syndrome – wherein formal diagnosis is performed by a neurologist or a psychologist. However, a thorough evaluation is based on testing of reading ability and underlying skills related to rapid naming, memory, sequencing, numerical and phonetics. In general, individuals with dyslexia often demonstrate the following:
• May be bright, intelligent and articulate, however their reading, writing and spelling level is below their average age group. • Have the same intelligence range as people without dyslexia. • May have poor academic achievement due to their problems in reading and writing. • May have good oral language abilities but will perform much-poorly on written-language tests. • Because dyslexia primarily affects reading while sparing other intellectual abilities, affected individuals might be categorized as not “behind enough” or “bad enough” to receive additional help in school setting.
• Might feel dumb or have low self-esteem; easily frustrated and emotional about school reading or testing. • Might try to hide their reading weaknesses through compensatory “strategies”. • Might learn best through hands on experiences, demonstrations, experimentations, observations and visual aids. • Can show talents in other areas • Have difficulty sustaining attention (cited in Davis, 1992) Individuals with dyslexia show signs of confusion in speech and listening skills.
They have difficulty distinguishing right and left or before and after; they have difficulty learning the alphabet and its corresponding phonetics; can not associate words with their correct meanings; and because of this fear of possibly making mistakes, some kids become isolated and withdrawn and shy, whilst other kids would become bullies to actively hide their inability to understand the social situation. They may also have a problem with their handwriting and would result to slower writing speed and irregular formed letters.
These dyslexic children are very gifted when it comes to mathematics, however, since they are having a hard time processing words, word-based problems in mathematics might slow their reaction time in comparison with number problems. C. Available Treatment As of now, treatment per se for dyslexia does not involve any radical surgeries or pharmacological advancement to help reduce or even cure dyslexia permanently or even temporarily. It is bold to assume that dyslexia has no cure but rather, only needs supportive measures for the dyslexic to cope up with his or her environment.
Supportive measures that involves intensive teaching methods to help them learn accordingly; psychological sessions to help with their self-esteem and explain their conditions; strong support group or peer group for their socialization improvement and the most important is the support that they get from their families. III. The Dyslexic Individual and New Ways to Help Them ‘We shouldn’t approach dyslexics as broken learning machines. ’ (cited in Hales 1994) It is in the school where the training and proper enhancement of the dyslexic child’s skill happen.
However, due to the stigma that dyslexics have a hard time learning, some institutions barely keep track of their students and because of the demand of the other non-dyslexic children, keeping time and effort to help dyslexic students in a regular institution is difficult. There was an account by one parent where the child begs her not to let her go back to school (Riddick, 1996). A reason where a specialized institution caters to dyslexic children. Helping individuals with dyslexia can demand a lot of time and effort from an educator.
The best way that is researched to help dyslexic kids read better is to let them stick with their phonetic studies. This is memorizing the sound of letters, which was better than memorizing words that could be over a million where as there are only 40 phonetic sounds that the kid would memorize. Intensive training modules are being heralded now to help dyslexic individuals cope up with their learning disabilities. It should be noted that dyslexic individuals are not developmentally retarded or intelligently-challenged, they can be normal learners using a different way of teaching.
There are new tools and strategies exercised by educators today when dealing with a student who has dyslexia. The University of Sheffield published some of this guideline for special education teachers to follow, or base their teaching approach in handling dyslexic students. It would be always helpful to get to know the student personally, build trust and rapport. Since dyslexic students may read and write slowly, as compared to an ordinary student, it would be wise not to include them in a fast-paced learning environment.
Remember that these students have a hard time coping up with the class. Therefore, it is advisable to give handouts or notes before the class starts for them to study the lesson ahead of time, give them time to think and analyze and process the information. Present the lesson in a variety of formats such as slides, videos and practical demonstrations. In a lecture class, it’s always reassuring and courteous to have a definite pause or breaks for the dyslexic student to catch up.
In handing out lesson notes, it is suitable to use clear and concise language, and most of the times if not always, avoid handing handwritten materials, as this may cause more confusion for them. It would be also helpful to print out topics on colored paper per subject. It helps the student recognize the topic and associate it with the color. When implementing examinations, dyslexic students may fair poorly because of the pressure and the time limit. If possible, allot a specific test questions for dyslexic students that does not require long words or sentences, as this will slow them down due to their difficulty in reading.
In addition to this, studies from the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development have shown that for children with difficulties learning to read, a multi-sensory teaching method is the most effective teaching method (Bradford, 2000). Using this method of teaching implies stimulating all the senses available to the dyslexic child. Since in a normal learning environment, only visual and auditory senses are being used, Bradford suggested that educators should focus on other senses especially the sense of touch and the use of kinetics or movements.
An example of this is the phenomena of reversal of letters and words, a dyslexic child may see the letter “b” as “d”; in a multi-sensory teaching method, teacher may create cut outs of both letters and let the child feel the circle and where it is facing. Afterwards letting the child draw a really big letter on the board. In this method, the child would learn to use their hands in relation to what they are thinking, so the next time they encounter that letter, the child would remember the experience of touching it, feeling it, and drawing it really big.
Another technique would be drawing the letter “b” in sandpaper and letting the child feel the texture of the material, this would give a very strong tactile memory to the child. Another method is writing the word “bed”, wherein both letters “b” and “d” are present. Show to them in a very precise manner (draw if necessary) that “b” holds up the head of the bed, and “d” supports the foot. A newspaper article citing exercise as a possible cure for Dyslexia is one of the most practical development for the treatment of the disease (The Birmingham Post, 2006).
After a series of activities the article safely concluded about the effectivity of exercise in jogging up the brain cells. It is the responsibility of the educator to recommend a student for assessment and tests when suspecting that the student has dyslexia. This is not to brand them or demoralize these students, but to properly address their difficulties wherein they improve their learning significantly. Some dyslexics don’t get a fair chance in employment. The stigma and ignorance of the condition led people to poorly judged individuals and base their actions on their minute connotations about dyslexia.
As one dyslexic social worker raise up hell in London for rejecting her based on her dyslexic condition. The council further explained that due to her condition, additional support would be needed (The Daily Mail, London, 2005). There are famous personalities who are dyslexic themselves but were successful in their chosen field and made a name for themselves. Examples are: Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875), Thomas Edison (1847-1931), Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965), Albert Einstein (1879-1955) and Cher (1946 -) (cited in Adelman & Adelman, 1987; Aaron, Phillips, & Larsen, 1988).
This just shows that dyslexia is in no way a hindrance to become successful in whatever field that individual chooses. VI. Conclusion The biggest obstacle when it comes to this disorder is still the ignorance and prejudice people have against dyslexic individuals. Given the history of dyslexia, it is given that it is not a disease, it is not communicable and it does not merit the judgment and scorn dyslexics get from other people. Dyslexics should have a fair chance in things that ordinary, normal people do. There should be widespread seminars and orientations to educate the public about this disorder.
To prevent further degrading comments and unnecessary labels that ignorant people give to dyslexics. It may be hard for people to understand the concept of dyslexia and some may believe that it is not really existent and that people are just inventing new terms or labels to cover up their children’s “slowness” or retarded development. So the key thing here is mass education, orientation and intensive campaign for public awareness. It is not their fault that these individuals have to suffer dyslexia, it does not make them less of a person – it makes us less of a person if we just stand here and do nothing.
With all the new researches about the origin of dyslexia, whether from brain injury, inherent cerebral hemisphere dysfunction, or genetics; it should be interesting to know find out the reaction and effect of dyslexia to the individuals who have the disorder. A case study on what are the best coping mechanisms available for these individuals to survive this cruel world where everybody gets judged, with or without dyslexia. Also, with the influx of different teaching methods contributed by educators, dyslexic students are getting a fair chance in education just like any normal kid.
Dyslexia would soon be history because of the effort that educators, lecturers, teachers, mothers, peer-support group and even neurologists, have put together in finding new strategies and new methods to help dyslexic individuals fully use their learning capabilities. References Bradford, John. Using Multisensory Teaching Methods. Dyslexia Online Magazine. 2000. Accessed November 19, 2007. http://www. dyslexia-parent. com/mag30. html Davis, Ronald D. 37 Common Characteristics of Dyslexia. Davis Dyslexia Association International, 1992. Retrieved on June 6, 2006. Dyslexia. The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition.
Columbia University Press, New York, 2004. Elliot, Julian. Dyslexia Doesn’t Exist. Byline by Paul James. The Journal, Newcastle, England, May 29, 2007. Exercise Is Possible Cure for Dyslexia. The Birmingham Post, England. October 31, 2006. Gayan, Javier. The Evolution of Research on Dyslexia. Institute for Behavioral Genetics and Department of Psychology, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, EEUU. 2001. Macintyre. C. , Deponio, P. Identifying and Supporting Children with Specific Learning Difficulties: Looking beyond the Label to Assess the Whole Child. RoutledgeFalmer, London, 2003. 116 pgs.
Murphy, Martin F. Dyslexia, An Explanation. Flyleaf Press. 2004. News and Dyslexia Research. Dyslexia Teacher Website. Accessed November 18, 2007. http://www. Dyslexia-teacher. com/t2. html Pollock, J. , Waller, E. , Politt, R. Day to Day Dyslexia in the Classroom. RoutledgeFalmer, New York, 2004. 203 pgs. Social Worker’s Fury at Dyslexia Job Reference. The Daily Mail. London, England. December 6, 2005. NOTE: I can not do away with these other resources since I cited some of them in-text. Dalby, JT. Taxonomic separation of attention deficit disorders and developmental reading disorders.
Contemporary Educational Psychology 10: 1985. 228-234. Galaburda, A. M. ; Menard, M. T. ; Rosen, G. D. (1994-08-16). Evidence for Aberrant Auditory Anatomy in Developmental Dyslexia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 91 (17): 8010-8013. doi:10. 1073/pnas. 91. 17. 8013. Retrieved on 2007-06-17 Orton, S. T. Specific reading disability—strephosymbolia. Journal of the American Medical Association 90 (14) (1928). 1095-1099. Riddick, Barbara. Living with Dyslexia: The Social and Emotional Consequences of Specific Learning Difficulties. Routledge, London. 1996. 232 pgs.