John hates being called to read aloud in his class, he usually has some trouble saying some words even when he recognizes them. School is not really his favourite place to be because all his teachers complain about his writing and spelling. His parents often compare him with his siblings saying “he is just the lazy one”. He often gets discouraged thinking he is not as smart as his siblings and other pupils in his class. John would rather work on his drawings and participate in other activities that deal less with writing or reading.
What John, his parents and teachers have not realized is that he has dyslexia.
In the previous article of this month’s series on understanding dyslexia, we shared some information about what dyslexia is and some prevailing myths and truths about dyslexia. In this second part, we will emphasize on the description of dyslexia, causes, prevalence, signs and symptoms which accounts for learning and brain differences in people with dyslexia.
Dyslexia can be described as a brain based learning difficulty which is often hereditary and results in problems with:
Also, it is associated with difficulties in concentration, short term memory and organization which are essential skills to facilitate learning that has to do with language. This is why people with dyslexia can be wrongly labelled as being “lazy”, “stupid”, “dumb”, “less intelligent” or “mentally slow/retarded” . Eliminating these wrong notions about dyslexia creates a better understanding of what is really responsible for the perceived learning differences/difficulties experienced by people with dyslexia.
CAUSES OF DYSLEXIA
The major cause of the brain based learning difficulty especially with literacy skills experienced by people who never had any damage to the brain and having adequate intelligence is genetic. As noted earlier, it is a condition that is hereditary; research has shown that it runs in families therefore, a child has a 50% chance of having dyslexia if only one parent has it and a 100% chance if both parents have dyslexia.
People with dyslexia use only the right side of the brain to process language, while people without dyslexia use three areas on the left side of the brain to process language.
Dyslexia is not as a result of laziness, stupidity or poor intelligence, rather, the brains of people with dyslexia are wired differently which accounts for the language difficulties they experience.
PREVALENCE OF DYSLEXIA
- Dyslexia is the most common learning difficulty.
- It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia.
- Dyslexia occurs around the world irrespective of tribe, race or socio-economic background.
- It occurs in both boys and girls.
- It can be seen in adults too.
- It varies from person to person.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF DYSLEXIA
The following are some signs and symptoms experienced by people that may have dyslexia.
- Difficulties with reading, spelling and writing despite normal intelligence and proper teaching: consistent reading, spelling and writing errors such as putting letters or words in the wrong order for example; ‘was’ for ‘saw’ or sounding ‘dub’ for ‘bud’ or omitting letters when spelling, such as ‘shool’ for ‘school’ could be a sign of dyslexia.
- Delay in reaching developmental milestones: this occurs when children are unable to reach certain language and motor development at the expected age. It could be an early sign of dyslexia.
- Speech problems: such as sudden loss of speech and difficulty expressing self through spoken language are possible signs of dyslexia.
- Directionality difficulties: confusion with directions such as being uncertain about left or right, up/top or down/bottom directions. It is also responsible for letter reversals such as ‘b’ for ‘d’ (not corrected after a long time of correcting and proper teaching). It is also known as mirror writing and could be a sign of dyslexia.
- Pronunciation problems: such as being unable to pronounce long words properly.
- Difficulty carrying out a sequence of directions: being unable to follow a sequence of directions is a possible sign of dyslexia.
Dyslexia should be seen as a different learning ability rather than a learning disability. People with dyslexia within any age range are capable of learning efficiently with a different approach that matches their learning ability.
Beyond all the difficulties experienced by people with dyslexia, are strengths unknown to many and themselves. Some of their strengths and more information about people with dyslexia will be shared in the next part of these series.
Remember to follow @DrMorayoJimoh for more interesting updates on understanding dyslexia throughout this month of November!