Dyslexia is a learning disability characterized by problems in reading, spelling, writing, speaking or listening. In many cases, dyslexia appears to be inherited.

The word "dyslexia" is derived from the Greek word, "dys" (meaning poor or inadequate) and the word "lexis" (meaning words or language).

Dyslexia is not a disease, but describes rather a different kind of mind thatlearns in a different way from other people. Many people with the conditionare gifted and very productive; dyslexia is not at all linked to low intelligence. In fact, intelligence has nothing to do with dyslexia.

The National Institutes of Health estimates that about 15% of the U.S.population is affected by learning disabilities, mostly with problems in language and reading. The condition appears in all ages, races and income levels.

The underlying cause of dyslexia is not known, although research suggests thecondition is often inherited. New research suggests a possible link with a subtle visual problem that affects the speed with which affected people can read.

Other experts believe that dyslexia is related to differences in the structure and function of the brain that manifests differently in different people.

In any case, research suggests that dyslexic children seem to have trouble learning early reading skills, problems hearing individual sounds in words, analyzing whole words in parts, and blending sounds into words. Letters such as"d" and "b" may be confused.

When a person is dyslexic, there is often an unexpected difference between achievement and aptitude. However, each person with dyslexia has different strengths and weaknesses, although many have unusual talents in art, athletics, architecture, graphics, drama, music or engineering. These special talents areoften in areas that require the ability to integrate sight, spatial skills and coordination.

Often, a person with dyslexia has a problem translating language into thought(such as in listening or reading), or translating thought into language (such as in writing or speaking).

Common symptoms include problems with:

  • Identifying single words
  • Understanding sounds in words, sound order, or rhymes
  • Spelling
  • Transposing letters in words
  • Handwriting
  • Reading comprehension
  • Delayed spoken language
  • Confusion with directions, or right/left handedness
  • Confusion with up/down, early/late, andso on
  • Mathematics.

Anyone who is suspected to have dyslexia should have a comprehensive evaluation, including hearing, vision and intelligence testing. The test should include all areas of learning and learning processes, not just reading.

Unfortunately, in many schools, a child is not identified as having dyslexiauntil after repeated failures.

If a child is diagnosed with dyslexia, the parents should find out from the school or the diagnostician exactly what the problem is, what method of teaching is recommended and why. No single method will work with every child, and experts often disagree as to the best method to use.

The primary focus of treatment is aimed at helping the specific learning problem of each affected person. Most often, this may include modifying teachingmethods and the educational environment, since traditional educational methods will not always work with a dyslexic child.

People with dyslexia need a structured language program, with direct instruction in the letter-sound system. Teachers must give the rules governing written language. Most experts agree that the teacher should emphasize the association between simple phonetic units with letters or letter groups, rather thanan approach that stresses memorizing whole words.

It is important to teach these students using all the senses: hearing, touching, writing and speaking, provided by an instructor who is specifically trained in a program which is effective for dyslexic students.

Many successful and even famous people have dyslexia. How well a person withdyslexia functions in life depends on the way the disability affects that person. There is a great deal of variation among different people with dyslexia,producing different symptoms and different degrees of severity.

Prognosis is usually good if the condition is diagnosed early, and if the person has a strong self image with supportive family, friends and teachers. Itis imperative for a good outcome that the person be involved in a good remedial program.

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