What is Dyslexia? Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
Dyslexia is a common learning disorder that affects a person’s ability to read, spell and write. According to the International Dyslexia Association, dyslexia is marked by difficulties with accurate or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. This may be due to problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words. These problems are first identified at school.
Dyslexia affects the part of the brain that is responsible for processing language. However, people with this disorder have normal vision and usually normal intelligence. Dyslexia is the most common lifelong condition and learning disability. The effects of dyslexia vary from person to person and can lead to a variety of problems, including learning problems and social problems such as low self-esteem, behavior problems, anxiety and withdrawal.
Types of Dyslexia
There are three main types of dyslexia-
Primary dyslexia- Primary dyslexia is the most common form and is passed down the family line through genes. This type of dyslexia usually does not change with age.
Secondary dyslexia- Secondary or developmental dyslexia is caused by problems with brain development during the early stages of pregnancy. This can lead to impaired neurological skills in word recognition and spelling. This type diminishes as the child gets older.
Trauma dyslexia- Trauma dyslexia is usually the result of an injury to the area of the brain that controls reading and writing.
Phonological dyslexia- Phonological dyslexia is extreme difficulty reading that results from a phonological disorder, meaning the ability to manipulate the basic sounds of language.
Surface dyslexia- Surface dyslexia is a special form of dyslexia characterized by difficulty recognizing whole words, especially words that don't sound like they are spelled.
Rapid naming deficit dyslexia- Rapid naming deficit, also called as rapid automatic naming (RAN), is characterized by the difficulty of quickly naming things like numbers, letters, and colors on sight.
Double deficit dyslexia- It includes both rapid naming deficit and phonological impairment, and can cause reading difficulties. It is also noted that individuals who have both deficits have greater reading disabilities than those with single deficits.
Causes of Dyslexia
Dyslexia is believed to be caused by environmental and genetic factors. It is linked to specific genes that affect how the brain processes reading and language. It can begin in adulthood as a result of a traumatic brain injury, dementia, or stroke.
Symptoms of Dyslexia
Symptoms of dyslexia can appear at any age, but usually appear in children. Symptoms may be hard to spot before your child starts school, but there may be some early clues that point to a problem. This may include-
- Learning new words slowly.
- Taking longer to learn how to speak.
- Finding rhyme is difficult.
- Inability to distinguish the sounds of different words such as reversing the sounds in words or confusing words that sound the same.
Symptoms can become apparent once the child is in school and may include-
- Difficulty in spelling.
- Avoiding activities that involve reading.
- Spending a long time on reading or writing tasks.
- Reading below the expected age level.
- Difficulty copying from a book or board.
- Difficulty remembering or understanding what children hear.
- Inability to pronounce unfamiliar words.
- Difficulty finding the right words to express my thoughts.
Symptoms of dyslexia in teens and adults can be similar to symptoms in children. Other symptoms may include-
- Difficulty in summarizing stories.
- Difficulty memorizing.
- Difficulty reading aloud.
- Difficulty learning foreign languages.
- Problem in understanding idioms.
Diagnosis of Dyslexia
Dyslexia is a difficult disorder to diagnose. There are many factors that the doctor will consider to diagnose the disorder. This may include-
- Family history and early development.
- Family life.
- Questionnaires to identify reading and language abilities.
- Neurological examination.
- Psychological testing.
- Spoken language skills.
Treatment for Dyslexia
Early diagnosis and intervention is important. Children who receive extra help early may improve their reading skills enough to do well in school. Children who do not receive early help may struggle to acquire the skills needed to read.
Specific educational techniques are required to treat dyslexia-
- Psychological testing helps teachers develop a better-targeted program for your child.
- Teachers can use techniques that involve hearing, touching and seeing to improve reading skills.
- Guidance and support can help minimize the impact on self-esteem.
When to see a doctor?
Children with dyslexia are unable to understand the basics of reading. Talk to your doctor if your child's reading level is below the expected level for their age or if you notice other signs of dyslexia.