Dyslexia is something that has perplexed scientists, educators and parents for quite some time. Due to the various nature of what dyslexia entails, there is no way to be precise in diagnoses or prescription. Instead, numerous studies and resources help shed light on a condition that affects many learners.
According to the Mayo Clinic, dyslexia is “a learning disorder characterized by difficulty reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words.” Dyslexia takes on various forms and can inhibit a child’s learning. Some cases are life-long, while others, if treated, can be corrected at a young age. Many studies point to dyslexia as an inherited condition but are unable to predict how it will manifest in a child’s learning.
Many parents begin investigating dyslexia when their child has trouble speaking. In order to speak, cognitive and fine motor skills need to be developed. According to many doctors, short utterances can begin as early as a few months, but at eighteen months, a child’s vocabulary develops more rapidly. Heather Boerner, owner of Chatty Child Speech Therapy in New York City, says, “Every child’s developmental trajectory is different.” While some children develop slower than others, it’s hard to say they have dyslexia as girls tend to mature faster than boys. The key to detecting dyslexia is for parents to be aware of their child’s speech patterns and attempts at communication.
In school, teachers can look for more concrete symptoms of dyslexia. Children who stumble with sounding out new words may be at risk. Other children will read over longer words and say shorter words they are familiar with instead. Children with a form of dyslexia may demonstrate difficulty spelling, comprehending quick instructions, or learning a second language. Teachers must continual observe children as they progress through school because dyslexia symptoms may come and go for periods of time.
There are many ways to manage dyslexia and abundant resources that provide tools for learners. Some include a combination of the following: decoding activities, time management skills, speech therapy, rhyming activities, reading tutoring. Speech pathologists, psychologists, and audiologists can help assess a child’s dyslexia through various tests. Susan Barton, an internationally recognized expert in dyslexia, has created a system to help dyslexic children, teens, and adults improve spelling, reading, and writing skills. The system is a “simultaneously multisensory structured explicit and systematic phonics approach that teaches students how to read and spell by sounding out instead of memorizing.” Reading and spelling are taught by breaking down syllables. Color-coded letter tiles are used to visually stimulate student learning. Barton’s system is one of many researched-based programs that can assist all kinds of dyslexic students, whether they attend public or private school, or are taught at home.
Currently there is no exact cure for dyslexia. If discovered at an early age, parents and teachers can instill good study habits and corrective measures that foster a child’s literacy. Most children with dyslexia are able to function in school with aids, tutoring, or a specialized education program. In addition, dyslexic children require a support system that maintains their sense of normalcy and proactively contributes to their learning habits. With a strong support system in place, learners with dyslexia are able to meet their personal and academic goals.