Dyslexia has been around for a long time and has been defined in different ways. Dyslexia is a learning disability that can hinder a person's ability to read, write, spell, and sometimes speak. Dyslexia is the most common learning disability in children and persists throughout life. The severity of dyslexia can vary from mild to severe. The sooner dyslexia is treated, the more favorable the outcome; however, it is never too late for people with dyslexia to learn to improve their language skills.
Children with dyslexia have difficulty in learning to read despite traditional instruction, at least average intelligence, and an adequate opportunity to learn. It is caused by impairment in the brain's ability to translate images received from the eyes or ears into understandable language. It does not result from vision or hearing problems. It is not due to mental retardation, brain damage, or a lack of intelligence.
TYPES OF DYSLEXIA:
There are several types of dyslexia that can affect the child's ability to spell as well as read.
"Trauma dyslexia" usually occurs after some form of brain trauma or injury to the area of the brain that controls reading and writing. It is rarely seen in today's school-age population.
A second type of dyslexia is referred to as "primary dyslexia." This type of dyslexia is a dysfunction of, rather than damage to, the left side of the brain (cerebral cortex) and does not change with age. Individuals with this type are rarely able to read above a fourth-grade level and may struggle with reading, spelling, and writing as adults. Primary dyslexia is passed in family lines through their genes (hereditary). It is found more often in boys than in girls.
A third type of dyslexia is referred to as "secondary" or "developmental dyslexia" and is felt to be caused by hormonal development during the early stages of fetal development. Developmental dyslexia diminishes as the child matures. It is also more common in boys.
How is dyslexia diagnosed?
Dyslexia is a difficult disorder to diagnose. There are many factors the psychologist or other health professional reviews to diagnose the disability. The testing determines the child's functional reading level and compares it to reading potential, which is evaluated by an intelligence test. All aspects of the reading process are examined to pinpoint where the breakdown is occurring. The testing further assesses how a child takes in and processes information and what the child does with the information. The tests determine whether a child learns better by hearing information (auditory), looking at information (visual), or doing something (kinesthetic). They also assess whether a child performs better when allowed to give information (output), by saying something (oral), or by doing something with their hands . The tests also evaluate how all of these sensory systems work in conjunction with each other.
WHAT TYPE OF TREATMENT AVAILABLE FOR DYSLEXIA ?
Before any treatment is started, an evaluation must be done to determine the child's specific area of disability. While there are many theories about successful treatment for dyslexia, there is no actual cure for it. The school will develop a plan with the parent to meet the child's needs. If the child's current school is unprepared to address this condition, the child will need to be transferred to a school, if available in the area, which can appropriately educate the dyslexic child. The plan may be implemented in a Special Education setting or in the regular classroom. An appropriate treatment plan will focus on strengthening the child's weaknesses while utilizing the strengths. A direct approach may include a systematic study of phonics. Techniques designed to help all the senses work together efficiently can also be used. Specific reading approaches that require a child to hear, see, say, and does something such as the Slingerlands Method, the Orton-Dillingham Method, or Project READ can be used. The child should be taught compensation and coping skills. Attention should be given to optimum learning conditions and alternative avenues for student performance.
Perhaps the most important aspect of any treatment plan is attitude. The child will be influenced by the attitudes of the adults around him. Dyslexia should not become an excuse for a child to avoid written work. Because the academic demands on a child with dyslexia may be great and the child may tire easily, work increments should be broken down into appropriate chunks. Frequent breaks should be built into class and homework time. Reinforcement should be given for efforts as well as achievements. Alternatives to traditional written assignments should be explored and utilized. Teachers are learning to deliver information to students in a variety of ways that are not only more interesting but helpful to students who may learn best by different techniques. Interactive technology is providing interesting ways for students to feedback on what they have learned, in contrast to traditional paper-pencil tasks.
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