by Kimberly Allen R.N.
Dyslexia is one of those umbrella terms that covers several types of learning disabilities. In 1968 dyslexia was defined as “a disorder in children who despite conventional classroom experience, fail to attain the language skills of reading, writing and spelling commensurate with their intellectual abilities” by the Federation of Neurologists. It is estimated that dyslexia affects between 5-10% of the population. It is the most frequently diagnosed learning disability in children and continue throughout life.
Dyslexia is a condition that inhibits a childs ability to learn to read, write and spell, it can also affect speech. The easiest way to explain how dyslexia affects learning is by first understanding the process the brain goes through to read. There 8 steps that the brain must perform simultaneously. For example, the brain needs to understand the way different speech sounds form a word while focusing on printed words and letters. At the same time it needs to connect the speech sounds to the written letters and blend them into words. Then while doing all that the brain also has to control the eye movement across the page and create images and ideas, then compare ideas with what already exists in the memory and store it. In children with dyslexia the brain has difficulty with the early steps making it very difficult to try to complete the rest of the steps in the reading process.
There are several different types of dyslexia each with it’s own cause that can affect a childs ability to spell and read.
1. Trauma Dyslexia as the name implies is caused by trauma or injury to the area of the brain that is responsible for reading and writing. This type of dyslexia though permanent is rarely seen in young children because it only occurs from severe brain injury.
2. Primary dyslexia is a dysfunction of as opposed to damage to the cerebral cortex also known as the “left brain”. This type of dyslexia is hereditary and diagnosed more in boys than girls. This type is more severe, most children suffering with this type will be unable to read higher than a 4th grade level and they usually have difficulty with spelling and writing.
3. Developmental types of dyslexia is believed to have a number of causes including malnutrition or abnormal hormone development early in fetal development as well as factors that affect a child between birth and 5 years like abuse or neglect and poor nutrition. This type of dyslexia not only improves as the child matures it’s also the type that best responds to special education classrooms. There are specific sub-types related to the visual and auditory processing as well as other sensory processing skills.
Though there is no actual cure for dyslexia there are a variety of interventions and educational programs that have been proven to be effective in improving reading and writing skills. Each program is tailored to meet the specific needs of the dyslexic child. It’s important to understand that dyslexia is not a form of ,mental retardation nor does it affect a childs intelligence. Children with dyslexia will have to cope with the challenges of the disorder on a daily basis, however with early detection and effective intervention even children with severe dyslexia are able to lead full productive lives.
Kimberly Allen is a registered nurse with an AND in nursing. She has worked in ACF, LCF and psychiatric facilities, although she spent most of her career as a home health expert. She is now a regular contributor to HealthAndFitnessTalk.com, dispensing advice and knowledge about medical issues and questions. You can reach her with any comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.