Though learning to read proceeds smoothly for most children, as many as one in 10 is estimated to suffer from dyslexia, a constellation of impairments unrelated to intelligence, hearing or vision that make learning to read a struggle. Now, Northwestern University researchers report they have found a biological mechanism that appears to play an important role in the reading process.
It is thought that the earlier a child with dyslexia is diagnosed, the more effective their future treatment will be.
In practice, identifying dyslexia in younger children can be difficult for parents because the signs and symptoms of the condition are often subtle. Many children, including younger children, also develop ways to compensate for their dyslexia, such as relying on their long-term memory more than usual.
Dyslexia is not considered a medical issue and forms no part of medical training. Although dyslexia is recognised under the Equality Act/Disability Discrimination Act, unlike other disabilities diagnosis is not funded by the NHS. A GP would therefore not normally be able to help with funding a diagnostic assessment for dyslexia and would not have knowledge of appropriate assessors.
In a very few cases where undiagnosed dyslexic difficulties may be a significant issue in the case of serious mental health problems, it may sometimes be possible for an assessment to be funded under the NHS.
Parents are key when it comes to spotting dyslexia in their children. The condition is usually present from birth, and 1 in 10 children affected. Early diagnosis means that children can receive the special help they need to overcome the condition. We look at the signs that suggest dyslexia at pre-school, primary school and aged 12 or over.
There is no single test for dyslexia that all experts use, or a single agreed standard for testing. There is not even a definition of dyslexia that is uniformly accepted. The symptoms and characteristics of dyslexia vary significantly from one individual to the next, and the range of difficulties can vary from being quite mild to extremely severe.
Some experts define dyslexia broadly to include a range of common learning difficulties, whereas others use different names and categories to describe the various academic, social, and behavioral issues that may accompany dyslexia.
The International Dyslexia Association defines dyslexia as a neurologically-based, often familial, disorder which interferes with the acquisition and processing of language. Varying in degrees of severity, it is manifested by difficulties in receptive and expressive language, including phonological processing, in reading, writing, spelling, handwriting, and sometimes in arithmetic. Dyslexia is a life long disorder, however, many children with dyslexia respond very well to early intervention and appropriate teaching strategies & modifications in the classroom.
The earlier a child with dyslexia is diagnosed, the more effective their future treatment is likely to be.
In practice, identifying dyslexia in younger children can be difficult for both parents and teachers because the signs and symptoms are often subtle. However, early continuing difficulties with differentiating sounds, particularly at the beginning or end of a word, can be a sign of possible difficulties in future
Dyslexia is a learning disability with several telltale signs or symptoms. While it is not a disease that can be cured, it is most certainly a challenge that can be overcome. My 16-year-old daughter is proof of that. Diagnosing dyslexia is the first step. While this article is not intended to provide a definite answer as to whether or not a child is dyslexic, it will hopefully provide enough information for a parent to determine if further investigation is necessary, ideally with a psychologist who specializes in learning disorders.
If you are reading this because you think you may have dyslexia, you may be feeling a little apprehensive about what it means for you. Has your child just had a diagnosis and you recognise their issues in yourself, or have you recognised your difficulties through reading sites such as this one? However you came to think this, you are probably worrying about what to do with this knowledge, whether to find answers to your questions or just leave them be. I hope you find this blog is useful; it is not an academic analysis of dyslexia and its implications, it is a personal reflection of dealing with dyslexia as a teacher and as a parent...