Your child not doing well at school? Is unable to read and makes a lot of spelling errors? It is time that you consider this to be a sign of dyslexia
“We have screamed at him and even tried to talk to him. Nothing is working, my child is very intelligent and is very talkative otherwise. He loves school. When it comes to his writing and reading work I fail to understand what to do,” exclaimed a distressed parent. Many cases such as these can be seen nowadays. The condition may be due to dyslexia, a developmental reading disorder in which the brain fails to recognise or understand certain symbols. The causes for dyslexia cannot be specifically pinpointed at.
According to Natasha Palaparthy, a remedial consultant, Reach Out Development Centre, “dyslexia is basically a reading disability in which the child struggles to read with a flow and may also make a lot of mistakes when it comes to writing.” Dr S Jayanthi, child psychologist says, “In childhood, most children reverse alphabets and numbers such as d and b. This usually sets right by the time the child is in UKG or class I. If it still continues then this could be due to dyslexia.” Apart from reversal of symbols, dyslexic children may show certain other symptoms. “You may notice that while playing with a bat and ball they may be trying to hit the ball in one direction but it goes in the other direction. Children with dyslexia may appear intelligent but are unable to read and write even though they are orally quite sound,” says Dr Jayanthi. The causes of dyslexia could be anything from genetic problems to birth trauma.
One may wonder that if many children may not be good at reading and writing how can someone identify that the child is suffering from dyslexia. Dr Jayanthi says, “Usually children are lazy so they may make mistakes while writing, but the difference is that a dyslexic child may want to study and do well but is genuinely unable to do so. The anxiety can be seen in their face.” She adds that such children when they read may use their fingers and also may skip words. “One could take for example the word LEADER, the child may stop at the word lead. They substitute words with words that are familiar to them.”
Like most disorders the diagnosis of dyslexia is done through a detailed analysis. Dr Jayanthi says, “A detailed case work of the child is done which also includes an analysis of his/her notebooks to notice a particular pattern of writing. The child is then tested for various forms of reading and writing disorders such as dyslexia (reading), dyscalculia (maths) and dysgraphia (writing).”
Natasha says, “Once it is identified that the child is dyslexic, they are put onto a remedial learning programme that goes along with their regular academic programme. The child is provided with special reading material and other materials or they maybe taught with the help of phonetics. Natasha explains that the remedial learning methods may make use of visual and auditory means. “Learning is done by using all areas of the child. For example, if a child is told about an apple he or she may not be able to recognise it. But if a child is shown an apple and then told it’s sounds, he or she will understand and also remember.”
Usually when it comes to such developmental problems, people are concerned about the child fitting in society and in their school. Dr Jayanthi says that it usually isn’t a problem if a child has a good or average IQ and is undergoing remedial treatment. The problem usually occurs when the child has a borderline IQ. With awareness about dyslexia growing schools, teachers and society are now more accepting about the situation. “Parents and people should understand that dyslexia is not a disease and a cure thus cannot be there. A child through these remedial measures is taught how to cope with the situation. They are taught to work around their problem.”
With the increase in available information, parents are now more open and understanding about the problem. Natasha mentions, “Now that parents have understood that dyslexia is not associated with any mental disability they have become more receptive. Various school boards also are providing a lot of help for children with learning disabilities.We keep telling parents and teachers that they should never make the children feel less than the other. Even a little change has to be encouraged.” She mentions that although it is never too late to provide help, the earlier it is done it is better.