What is dyslexia?
Dyslexia is an unexpected reading difficulty in children and adults. We say unexpected because people with dyslexia have average to above average intelligence. People with dyslexia can have difficulty with reading, spelling, writing, and pronouncing words. Dyslexia is a neurological disorder, meaning it occurs in the brain. People with dyslexia use alternative pathways in the brain in order to read. Dyslexia is not seeing or reading backwards. People with dyslexia are often creative, "out of the box" thinkers that excel in areas like art, design, electronics, mechanics, music, sales, and sports. Dr. Sally Shaywitz refers to dyslexia as "an island of weakness in a sea of strengths".
How widespread is dyslexia?
15-20% of the population, 1 in 5, exhibits some symptoms of dyslexia. Dyslexia affects both boys and girls equally, although boys are still being identified a bit more often. Also, dyslexia runs in families.
What causes dyslexia?
The exact causes of dyslexia are still not completely clear, but fMRIs show differences in the way the brain of a dyslexic person develops and functions. People with dyslexia have difficulty identifying the separate speech sounds within a word and/or learning how letters represent those sounds. This is a key factor in their reading difficulties. Dyslexia is not due to either lack of intelligence or desire to learn; once identified and with appropriate teaching methods, people with dyslexia can learn and read successfully.
What are the effects of dyslexia?
The impact of dyslexia is individual and depends on the severity of the condition and the effectiveness of instruction or remediation. The core difficulty is with word recognition and reading fluency, spelling, and writing.
People with dyslexia may find it difficult to express themselves clearly, or to fully comprehend what others mean when they speak. Such language problems are often difficult to recognize, but they can lead to major problems in school, in the workplace, and in relating to other people. The effects of dyslexia reach well beyond the classroom.
Dyslexia can also affect a person's self-image. Students with dyslexia often end up feeling "dumb" and less capable than they actually are. After experiencing a great deal of stress due to academic problems, a student may become discouraged about continuing in school.
Children's Dyslexia Center of West MI: www.dyslexiatutoring.org 616-776-6840
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