(Specific Reading Disability)
Dyslexia is a learning disability that can hinder a person’s ability to read, write, spell, and sometimes speak. It 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.
The causes of dyslexia are neurobiological (having to do with the way the brain is formed and how it functions) and genetic (passed down through families).
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition. Because dyslexia runs in families, tell your doctor or pediatrician if you or other members of your family have it.
If you or your child experiences any of the following symptoms do not assume it is due to dyslexia. These symptoms may be caused by other health conditions. If you or your child experiences any one of them over time, see your physician or pediatrician.
Symptoms include difficulty in the following areas:
- Learning to speak
- Reading and writing at grade level
- Organizing written and spoken language
- Learning letters and their sounds
- Learning number facts
- Learning a foreign language
- Correctly doing math problems
Your doctor will ask about your or your child’s symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam (including hearing and vision tests). You then may be referred to an expert in learning disabilities, such as a school psychologist or learning specialist, for additional testing to determine if you or your child has dyslexia.
Tests given by the specialist may include the following:
- Cognitive processing tests (measure of thinking ability)
- IQ test (measure of intellectual functioning)
- Tests to measure speaking, reading, spelling, and writing skills
Most people with dyslexia need help from a teacher, tutor, or other trained professional. Talk with your doctor or pediatrician and learning specialist about the best treatment plan for you or your child. Treatment options include the following:
Remediation is a way of teaching that helps people with dyslexia to learn language skills. It uses the following concepts:
- Teach small amounts of information at a time
- Teach the same concepts many times (“over-teaching”)
- Use all the senses—hearing, vision, voice, and touch—to enhance learning (multisensory reinforcement)
Compensatory strategies are ways to work-around the effects of dyslexia. They include:
- Audio taping classroom lessons, homework assignments, and texts
- Using flashcards
- Sitting in the front of the classroom
- Using a computer with spelling and grammar checks
- Receiving more time to complete homework or tests
There is little that can be done to prevent dyslexia, especially if it runs in your family. However, early identification and treatment can reduce its effects. The sooner children with dyslexia get special education services, the fewer problems they will have learning to read and write at grade level. Under federal law, free testing and special education services are available for children in the public school system.