What is this Thing Called DYSLEXIA?

What joy we all derive from reading a great book or reading and sharing a children’s story book with our children and grandchildren! However, if we struggle with words and sentences in attempting to enjoy a best seller because those configurations of letter symbols confuse you or it takes an inordinate amount of time to process. If our precious little angels experience similar struggles in differentiating between “bs” and “ds” and cannot sound out the letters to create words, they will be excruciatingly frustrated and believe that they are dumb and cannot read like other children in their class. In response to this childhood dilemma, my children’s book, one in a series, NICKI NICE’S TRICKY LETTERS,was just released and describes the frustrations as well as the accomplishments of Nicki, the main character who struggles with dyslexia.

What is this thing called Dyslexia? This term is defined as a condition that prominently effects the ability to read. More than two million students ages 3 years to 21 years old have such learning disabilities according to the U.S. Department of Education and the vast majority of them have difficulties in reading. It should be noted that this statistic reflects students who are receiving services under the special education law, IDEA. Children who have yet to be identified and not serviced are not accounted for in this statistic.

Dyslexia effects the manner in which the way the brain processes written and spoken language, primarily reading. This disability, besides reading disabilities is demonstrated in the inability to master spelling, writing and oral language. It is a life long neurological condition without a cure but with appropriate instructional intervention, a child will find academic success and go on to college with career success.

Children with Dyslexia will experience much frustration and have a poor self esteem due to the stress of attempting to perform academically. Reading a single word can be a tremendous struggle. Dyslexia makes it most difficult to understand and remember what has been read. Connecting letters to sounds prevents a child in sounding out words (phonics). The skill of decoding words to create a sentence is another area of deficiency. Word recognition or sight word reading is a challenge and it requires countless attempts to visually identify words as a whole. Managing to remember the text or what has been read is almost unattainable and dyslexic children get bogged down sounding out individual words.

If a child is identified and diagnosed before the age of eight, they can be helped and will catch up to their peers. Researchers who study the brain, have identified a concept called “neuroplasticity” which documents the ability of the brain to rewire itself in processing data after these children receive specific tutoring and interventions.

There is no single test to determine the existence of dyslexia in a child. The child must be identified due to reading problems and evaluated by a team of specialists. The following steps hopefully will lead to early intervention: a medical exam, a referral by a specialist, psychological testing, completions of questionnaires by parents and teachers. Ultimately, all of the data is put together and a determination for special learning assistance will be determined.

In my next blog, I will provide additional information about this learning challenge and, in future postings, I will reveal stories of success from celebrities and public figures who are dyslexics. I will also provide much needed information on how parents can help their child in understanding dyslexia and methods of parental intervention for social and academic success.

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