Learning to read is an extremely challenging neurological process. It’s even been described to be as challenging as learning rocket science. For many children and adults, there can be multiple issues that create reading challenges, to include poor early language development, inadequate reading practice, inadequate instruction, and intellectual disability. However, in some children, the problem is the specific learning disability called dyslexia.
If you or someone you love is struggling with a dyslexia diagnosis, it can feel overwhelming. We’ve put together this comprehensive guide to help you understand everything you need to know about dyslexia.
What is Dyslexia
Dyslexia is not uncommon. Some experts believe that 5–10% of people have it, while others estimate it affects 20% of the population. Furthermore, dyslexia represents 80-90% of all of those individuals challenged by a learning disability. It is one of the most common neuro-cognitive disorders.
Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that impairs a person’s ability to write and read. Dyslexia is an unexpected difficulty in writing and reading for an individual who has the intelligence to be a much better reader. The impacts of dyslexia differ from person to person. Individuals with the condition commonly experience difficulty reading without making mistakes and reading quickly. They may also have trouble with reading comprehension.
Most people with dyslexia receive a diagnosis during childhood or when they are young adults. Receiving the proper diagnosis can open the door to more support and resources for your child or loved one.
As a neurological issue, dyslexia can run in families. It’s most commonly due to a problem in phonological processing (the appreciation of the individual sounds of spoken language). Phonological processing influences the ability to speak, spell, read, and even learn a second language.
A dyslexia diagnosis is not the result of poor teaching, instruction, or upbringing. Although dyslexia is challenging, almost every person can learn to read if they receive the proper solutions and instruction to address their dyslexia.
An individual with dyslexia may be eligible for special education services, support programs, and services in colleges and universities.
According to the International Dyslexia Association, diagnostic evaluations for dyslexia often cover the following areas:
- background information, including family history and early development
- oral language skills
- word recognition
- fluency skills
- reading comprehension
- vocabulary knowledge
- decoding, or the ability to read new words using letter-sound knowledge
- phonological processing, or how the brain processes the sounds of words
Throughout the course of the evaluation, the examiner will rule out other conditions with similar symptoms (i.e. vision problems, hearing impairment, social and economic factors, etc.).
People with dyslexia can develop symptoms at any age, but they typically present during childhood. Symptoms of dyslexia include:
- Delays in reaching developmental milestones: learning to crawl, walk, talk, or ride a bicycle later than their peers.
- Delay of difficulties to speak: mispronouncing words, difficulties rhyming, and difficulties distinguishing between various word sounds.
- Difficulties learning to write: reversing numbers or letters without realizing it and difficulties retaining word comprehension (i.e. learning to spell a word and forgetting the next day). Children with dyslexia may also take longer to learn the letters of the alphabet.
- Autoimmune conditions: more likely to develop seasonal allergies, asthma, and eczema.
- Difficulties concentrating: according to some estimates, 30% of those with dyslexia also have ADHD, compared with 3–5% of the general school population experiencing both conditions.
- Difficulties processing sounds: challenges saying words with more than one syllable.
- Difficulties reading: trouble matching letters to sound, difficulties recognizing the sounds in words, and difficulties with reading fundamentals including:
- reading comprehension
- reading fluency
- in-depth writing
- sentence structure
When to Seek Evaluation
If your child or student struggles with one or more of the following, it may be time to request an evaluation for dyslexia:
- Pronouncing new words
- Transferring what is heard to what is seen and vice versa.
- Distinguishing similarities/difference in words (no, on)
- Weak at letter sound discrimination (pin, pen)
- Low reading comprehension
There is no cure for dyslexia, but various strategies and solutions can help make daily tasks much more accessible. Treatment and management will depend on individual symptoms and needs. Early diagnosis and intervention are essential to long-term developmental benefits.
Managing dyslexia in children may involve:
- An evaluation of individual needs helps educators generate a customized program for the child. For example, a child or teen with dyslexia may require more time to complete a test.
- Children with dyslexia may benefit from adapted learning tools that tap into their senses, such as vision, touch, and hearing.
- Counseling or therapy can provide support and guidance to help improve self-esteem. Other forms of support may involve, for example, granting extra time on exams.
- Adults with dyslexia may benefit from ongoing evaluations to develop coping skills in areas of their life where they could benefit from more support, such as at work.
Brain Training for Dyslexia
The Brain Workshop cognitive skills training program provides dyslexia services by attacking the root causes of dyslexia through strengthening weak cognitive skills – especially phonemic awareness and auditory processing.
Unlike tutoring, which focuses on specific academic subjects (such as history or math), brain training treats the causes of learning struggles to help children, teens and adults excel in school, sports, the workplace, and extracurricular activities (like music, art, and dance).