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Understanding Dyslexia

Dyslexia is a learning disability that makes it difficult for people to read and write. While it has been known to run in families, the exact causes of dyslexia are not yet certain, and it is believed that environmental factors may also play a role.

What we do know is that the root of dyslexia lies somewhere in the language processing area of the brain. This tells us that dyslexia is a learning disorder that in no way reflects an individual’s overall intelligence, nor is it related to problems with sight.

What Does Dyslexia Do?

People with dyslexia find it harder to read or write than people at their age generally would. A large part of this is to do with the brain’s ability to make connections, such as linking certain letters to certain sounds, putting individual letters together to form words, and putting words together to form sentences.

People with dyslexia also read at a slower pace than the average person. While most of us can often identify words at a glance, people with dyslexia may need to see the word as many as 40 times before they can identify it. This also affects their ability to speedily read through sentences without pausing. All of these difficulties combined make it more difficult for people with dyslexia to comprehend and remember sections of text.

How Common Is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is the most common learning disability there is. Dyslexia affects up to 80% of all students who have a learning disability, and it appears to occur in relatively stable numbers in populations across the globe. Overall, it is believed to affect anywhere between 3 and 7 percent of people, but as many as 20% of us could display some symptoms of dyslexia.

Identifying Dyslexia

Dyslexia is almost always diagnosed in childhood. While mild cases of dyslexia may go undiagnosed until adulthood in some cases, it is very rare for a person with dyslexia to reach adulthood without identifying the problem. If a person can read, and then develops difficulty reading later in life, this is known as alexia rather than dyslexia, and is an unrelated issue.

Most cases of dyslexia become apparent when children enter school, as there is a starker contrast between the development of all the children. However, it can be identified earlier than that. Children who have dyslexia often start speaking later than other children, and have difficulty in picking up new words.

One of the best indications as to whether or not a child may be dyslexic is their ability to sing nursery rhymes. As the root of dyslexia is in the language centre of the brain, the combination of the tune, words, story and rhyming make nursery rhymes a strong indicator of its development.

Dyslexia can come in a mild form or a very extreme form, but either way, it in no way reflects a person’s ability to develop or understand complex thoughts in other areas. One of the main challenges dyslexia poses is that it can make it harder for people to learn through the traditional methods of reading and writing, which is why it is important to identify it as early as possible. That being said, there are methods being developed to circumvent this, such as the OpenDyslexic font, which is designed specifically for people with dyslexia. Ultimately, while dyslexia may prove a challenge to many people, it can’t limit your abilities, and it can be overcome.

How Can Speech Therapy Help?

Our Speech and Language Therapists can complete a full evaluation of a child’s language based learning skills and from this assessment, they will be able to develop a treatment plan to provide them with the support they need.

At Spectrum Speech, our SLTs can work with children to improve the areas they are weakest in. With dyslexic children the most common areas that a speech and language therapist can help with include language skills, phonics and decoding.