What is Dyslexia?

Examples of the dyslexic brain vs. a nomral reading brain.Dyslexia occurs in about 10% to 20% of the population. It is when there is a difference in activity in the left side of the brain (compared to non-dyslexic individuals) when doing certain language based activities, especially reading. 

The picture to the right, as seen by an fMRI, illustrates how, during a reading task, the left hemisphere of a dyslexic brain, lights up more in one area when compared to a non-dyslexic brain. It is very likely that this is why people who have untreated dyslexia tire easy when attempting to read; their brain is working much harder. Also, the non-dyslexic brain has activity in other areas (to the side and back) which may be associated with visualization of what is being read as well as comprehension. The dyslexic individual is missing out on these key components of reading since they are too busy struggling with basic decoding.

Diagnosing Dyslexia

In the past, a discrepancy between IQ and reading level were used to diagnose children as having dyslexia. If a child had an average or above average IQ and could not read as well his or her peers, this raised a flag, and the child would be identified as being dyslexic. The children, with lower IQs, would not normally be diagnosed as having dyslexia, since they did not meet the intelligence standard required. Today, this idea is changing, due to the use of fMRIs in the study of dyslexia.

According to  Emily Finn of MIT News Office, http://tinyurl.com/mgxhqb6 and researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine http://tinyurl.com/l4qvotr, children with lower IQs, who also struggle with reading, have very similar brain scans during a reading task as those children with higher IQs, who were labeled as having dyslexia.  Because of this, there is currently a movement to eliminate using IQ for identifying dyslexia, and to give an intensive phonics intervention to both groups.

As seen in the research done by Jill Allor and Tammi Champlin (Institute for Reading Research Southern Methodist University) in their study "Response to Reading Intervention by Students with Low IQs"; http://tinyurl.com/kvf5pld , "Students with ID, even those with IQs in the moderate range, can learn basic reading skills given consistent, explicit, and comprehensive reading instruction across an extended period of time." Note: "ID" stands for intellectual disabilities or IQ scores in the borderline range. Although improvement was evident, it is important to note that the rate of improvement for these students was slower.

Treating Dyslexia

Studies have shown that after using an intensive, structured phonics reading program, students who were identified as having dyslexia, as well as those poor readers with low IQs, showed significant improvement in reading. In fact, according to Shalini Narayana, PhD, and Jinhu Xiong, PhD,  (http://www.neurology.org/content/61/2/E5.full)  after remediation, brain scans of dyslexic students during a reading task (using a fMRI), showed little to no difference from that of normal readers.

Reading intervention no longer has to be done at expensive facilities, or at your child's school. Our inexpensive, easy-to-use, reading program can be done in the convenience of your home (as long as the person implementing the program is an able reader and shares the same accent as the student).  Our programs have been used by thousands of people, including school districts, and tutoring facilities. Click here for more.

Signs of Dyslexia

Usually schools will wait until a child is a year or two behind in reading before they will test for any type of learning disability. This will allow them to rule out maturity issues (such as letter reversals) and give them time to have a clear idea and understanding of the problem. Parents often feel that waiting this long is detrimental to the child and should be avoided. Parents can take the necessary steps themselves to identify dyslexia and begin reading remediation, whether they hire a tutor or do it themselves. Below are the signs to look for:

Early Years (ages 4 -5)

  1. Pease do not cut and paste from our website.Language issues: Children who have dyslexia often learn to talk later than other children and often have issues with language which would require a speech therapist. The issues are not due to physical aspects such as poor muscle development, but rather due to poor phoneme awareness, where putting simple sounds together, such as the 'sm' in "smile", are difficult.

  2. Trouble rhyming words: Due to poor phoneme awareness, dyslexic children often have trouble rhyming words and identifying similar sounds.

  3. Issues with memory: Some dyslexic children have a very poor working memory when it involves verbal information, however, if the information is visual, then the child excels. They may, for example, have trouble memorizing the days of the week, words to songs, or following (verbal) instructions.

Middle Years (6-9)

  1. Letter reversals: Letter reversals are very common in children up to age 8, which is why it isn't usually used to identify dyslexia in young children. With that said, dyslexic people will often reverse: 'b' and 'd', 'p' and 'q' and '6' and '9'. If your child is over the age of 8 and behind in reading and is making these reversals, it is very possible that your child has dyslexia.

  2. When reading, may skip words, even the small simple (high frequency) words.

  3. When reading, may substitute a words that has the same or similar meaning, i.e. they may see the word "hut", but may say "house".

  4. When reading, they often guess at a word, often using the first letter as their "clue", i.e. if they see "beard", they may say "bear" (the sounds are not followed through to the entire word).

  5. When reading, will swap letters within words, such as "form" to "from"

  6. When writing, they may omit prefixes or suffixes.

  7. In the classroom, they may have trouble copying from the board or taking notes.

  8. Often will not write sounds from left to right; for example the word "to" may be written as "ot".

  9. Extremely poor reading comprehension.

  10. Trouble memorizing facts in general (note that facts are stored in the left side of the brain). Visual cues (stored in the right side of the brain) are often needed for memorization.

  11. May have trouble learning to tell time on an analog clock.

  12. Sometimes may be ambidextrous, or use one hand for writing, while using the other for another task.

Later Years (10 to adult) 

  1. Poor writing skills. Writing is simplistic and handwriting is often messy with many spelling errors and poorly constructed sentences.

  2. Takes poor classroom notes.

  3. Unable to easily find a word when formulating sentences, sometimes resulting in jumbled words when speaking.

  4. Avoids reading out loud or reads with a monotone voice, with no inflection.

  5. Often has difficulty learning a foreign language.

  6. May have trouble organizing.

Copyrighted by Reading Specialists of Long Island, 2017

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