What is Dyslexia?
‘Dyslexia is a learning difficulty: a combination of strengths and weaknesses which affects the learning process.’
This means that children who have dyslexia learn in ways that are different from other children. Having dyslexia can mean that certain aspects of learning may be more difficult than others. It can also mean that certain parts of learning may be easier.
How can I understand if my child has dyslexia?
Some children with dyslexia struggle with:
• Telling the time
• Hearing certain sounds
• Speech and language
• Remembering instructions
• Getting ideas down on paper
• Processing information quickly
These are some of the areas that dyslexia can affect, but you, as a child with dyslexia, may have noticed other things that you also find difficult.
learning to count
recognizing and memorizing numbers and letters
Connecting number to a real quantity
organizing things in a logical way
solve addition, subtraction, multiplication, and/or division
doing math operations
measuring objects or playing strategic games
managing budget or account
learning math concepts
concept of time
sense of direction (left/right)
mental calculations and/or estimation
There are a lot of information about calculationg. We think we should add something more specific on reading.
What is happening in the brain of a child with Dyslexia?
Studies of structural differences in the brains of people of all ages show differences between people with and without reading disabilities.
The brain is chiefly made up of two types of material: gray matter and white matter. Gray matter is what we see when we look at a brain and is mostly composed of nerve cells. Its primary function is processing information.
White matter is found within the deeper parts of the brain, and is composed of connective fibers covered in myelin, the coating designed to facilitate communication between nerves. White matter is primarily responsible for information transfer around the brain.
Booth and Burman (2001) found that people with dyslexia have less gray matter in the left parietotemporal area (Area A in Figure 2) than nondyslexic individuals. Having less gray matter in this region of the brain could lead to problems processing the sound structure of language (phonological awareness).
Many people with dyslexia also have less white matter in this same area than average readers, which is important because more white matter is correlated with increased reading skill (Deutsch, Dougherty, Bammer, Siok, Gabrieli, & Wandell, 2005). Having less white matter could lessen the ability or efficiency of the regions of the brain to communicate with one another.
Other structural analyses of the brains of people with and without RD have found differences in hemispherical asymmetry. Specifically, most brains of right-handed, nondyslexic people are asymmetrical with the left hemisphere being larger than the same area on the right.
In contrast, Heim and Keil (2004) found that right-handed people with dyslexia show a pattern of symmetry (right equals left) or asymmetry in the other direction (right larger than left). The exact cause of these size differences is the subject of ongoing research, but they seem to be implicated in the reading and spelling problems of people with dyslexia.
Recommendations for parents
The identification of a child with dyslexia is a difficult time for parents and teachers. We suggest that teachers can help parents learn more about their child's difficulty in the following ways:
Teachers can share information about the student's specific areas of weakness and strength and help parents realize the underlying causes of their child's difficulty.
This conversation can also include information about how to help their child use areas of strength to support areas of weakness.
It is critical to help parents get clear about what dyslexia is and is not.
Sharing the common misconceptions and the correct information found in Table 1 with parents may help clear up any confusion that may exist.
Early intervention with intense, explicit instruction is critical for helping students avoid the lifelong consequences of poor reading.
Engaging parents early in the process of identifying what programs and services are best for their child will ensure greater levels of success and cooperation between home and school.
There are many organizations devoted to supporting individuals with RD and their families.
Accessing the knowledge, support, and advocacy of these organizations is critical for many families. A list of several large organizations to share with parents can be found in Table 3.
Finally, teachers can often best help families by simply listening to the parents and their concerns for their children.
Understanding a disability label and what that means for the future of their child is a very emotional process for parents and many times teachers can help by providing a sympathetic ear as well as information.
Can dyslexia be cured?
In a word, no. Dyslexia is a lifelong condition that affects people into old age. However, that does not mean that instruction cannot remediate some of the difficulties people with dyslexia have with written language.
What is the relationship between Dysgraphia and dyslexia?
Dysgraphia is a language-literacy disability that can be diagnosed and treated. Dysgraphia is often related to other problems such as difficulty with spelling and written expression, dyslexia and even oral expression. Since handwriting skills require memory for the movement path for each letter as well as for how letters connect, children with working memory and/or attention deficits can have difficulty mastering handwriting skills. Dyslexic children, whose difficulties begin with speech sound awareness, typically have difficulty with the fluent and unconscious association of phonemes (speech sounds) to graphemes (letter symbols).