Over the years, the term has been given a variety of definitions, and for this reason, many teachers have resisted using the term. Instead, they have used “reading disability” or “learning disability” to describe conditions more correctly designated as dyslexia.
Although there is no universally recognised definition of dyslexia, the one presented by the World Federation of Neurology has won broad respect: “A disorder manifested by difficulty in learning to read despite conventional instruction, adequate intelligence, and sociocultural opportunity.”
While a lot of uncertainty continues to surround dyslexia, here are some facts:
1.) The term dyslexia was coined from the Greek words dys, meaning ill or difficult, and lexis, meaning word
The term refers to persons for whom reading is simply beyond their reach. Spelling and writing are usually included due to their close relationship to reading.
2.) Symptoms of dyslexia are many and varied
Dyslexia symptoms include
- letter reversals (confusing b and d);
- putting letters in the wrong order (reading ‘felt’ as ‘left’);
- elisions (reading ‘cat’ for ‘cart’);
- spelling words as they sound;
- reading very slowly and hesitantly;
- reading with poor comprehension; and
- poor handwriting.
3.) Dyslexia is a common problem
According to a Yale study, 1 out of 5 people have dyslexia, and 80 to 90 percent of children with learning disabilities are dyslexic.
4.) Dyslexia, like hypertension, can vary in severity
The terms mild, moderate, and severe are commonly used to describe the degree:
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- Most adults show some blips and would be levels 1 or 2.
- Levels 4 or 5 have difficulty in spelling and punctuation. If they maintain high levels of discipline, they can be successful.
- Levels 6 or 7 have difficulty with spelling and reading textbooks. They can sometimes finish college, but it takes tremendous effort.
- Levels 8 or 9 find academic learning almost impossible. It takes 2-3 times longer to finish assignments. They need constant help.
5.) People with dyslexia do not see letters and words backwards
Reversals and mirror writing are the results of a processing deficit.
6.) There are two main types of dyslexia
Reading difficulties related to visual-processing weaknesses have been called surface dyslexia, visual dyslexia, and dyseidetic dyslexia, while reading delays associated with auditory-processing difficulties have been referred to as phonological dyslexia, auditory dyslexia, and dysphonetic dyslexia.
7.) Dyslexia is linked to slow processing speed
University of Science and Technology in Trondheim gave two simulated driving tests to six dyslexic volunteers and 11 other people. They were shown road signs as they drove on simulated country and city roads at different speeds.
The researchers found that peope with dyslexia were 20 percent slower to react to traffic signs during the rural drive and 30 percent slower to react in the city than the non-dyslexic controls.
8.) Many people with dyslexia have trouble with sequencing
A study, published in the Journal of General Psychology, compared 33 dyslexic and 33 control eight- to twelve-year-old children and found the dyslexic children to be inferior to controls on tasks involving visual sequential memory and auditory sequential memory.
9.) Dyslexics often have deficits in auditory working memory
Ahissar and team tested dyslexic and non-dyslexic musicians on auditory processing and auditory memory. Dyslexic musicians scored as well as their non-dyslexic counterparts in auditory processing tasks, and better than the general population, but performed much worse on tests of auditory working memory, including memory for rhythm, melody, and speech sounds.
Moreover, these abilities were intercorrelated, and highly correlated with their reading accuracy, which means that the dyslexic musicians with the poorest auditory working memory tended to have the lowest reading accuracy.
10.) People with dyslexia have poor long-term memory
A study, published in Dyslexia, compared the performances of 60 dyslexic children to that of 65 age-matched typical readers on verbal, visual-spatial, and visual-object tasks. Results documented a generalised impairment of long-term memory capacities in dyslexic children, and the results did not vary as a function of children’s age.
11.) Latest research shows that dyslexia is not tied to IQ
Using brain imaging scans, neuroscientist John D. E. Gabrieli at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found no difference between the way poor readers with or without dyslexia think while reading. Research results indicated that poor readers of all IQ levels showed significantly less brain activity in the six observed areas than typical readers. But there was no difference in the brains of the poor readers, regardless of their IQs.
12.) Study after study has shown the dyslexic’s brain differs from the typical reader’s brain
These brain differences are often viewed as the causes of dyslexia. New studies suggest that the cause-effect relationship is reversed; in other words, these brain differences are not the cause of reading difficulties but the result.
In one study, published online in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers analysed the brains of children with dyslexia. They compared them with two other groups of children: an age-matched group without dyslexia and a group of younger children with the same reading level as those with dyslexia. Although the children with dyslexia had less grey matter than age-matched children without dyslexia, they had the same amount of grey matter as the younger children at the same reading level.
Lead author Anthony Krafnick said this suggests that the anatomical differences reported in left-hemisphere language-processing regions of the brain appear to be a consequence of reading experience instead of a cause of dyslexia.
13.) Extreme opinions exist about dyslexia
One school of thought is that dyslexia is a condition that cannot be cured but endured, and on the other extreme, some say diagnoses of dyslexia are a complete waste of time. Because the brain is plastic, Edublox’s point of view is that dyslexia is not a DISability, but an INability.
For many years people thought that the brain could not change, let alone improve. People were told that when there was something wrong with a person’s brain, it could not be fixed. Scientists firmly believed that each person was born with a certain number of brain cells, and if any of them were injured, there was no way to reverse the damage. Problems like dyslexia, which are linked to the brain, were therefore regarded as beyond cure.
Today we know better.
New connections can form, and the internal structure of the existing synapses can change. New neurons, also called nerve cells, are constantly being born, particularly in the learning and memory centres. Approximately 700 new neurons are formed daily in each half of the brain. Neurons die each day, too, keeping the overall number more or less balanced, with a slow loss of cells as we age. A person who becomes an expert in a specific domain will have growth in the areas of the brain that are involved with their particular skill.
14.) Cognitive training is probably the most effective treatment for dyslexia
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