Learning Disability: Dyslexia
It is the objective of this paper to identify the causes, effects, treatments, and future trends of learning disability. Since there are several disorders that are considered as under the realm of learning disability, this paper focused on one particular disability, which is Dyslexia. In relation to this, the succeeding paragraphs determine the definition, causation, characteristics, diagnosis, and prognosis of Dyslexia. Furthermore, therapy techniques that involve activities held together with the parents as well as education teachers. Lastly, the impact on second language learners and other future trends will also be examined.
Learning Disability is defined as “a disorder in basic psychological processes involved in understanding or using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or use mathematical calculations” (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2006). People should become aware with this type of disorder in order for it to be properly address. It is important to fully understand this kind of problem especially for parents so that they could be able to detect if their children are suffering from such and to immediately give the needed attention and treatment. There are many disorders that are considered to be learning disabilities and one of which is dyslexia.
Definition of Dyslexia
The word Dyslexia is pronounced as dis-lek-see-uh. It is defined as a learning disorder that occurs in some children, which impairs their capability to read and spell. What appears to be as D-O-G to most people would be perceived as O-D-G to individuals with dyslexia. This is not a basis to measure whether a child is intelligent or not but it is rather a disorder of the brain. Contrary to what others believe that dyslexic individuals are not smart, numerous clever and gifted people were diagnosed with this learning disability (Kids Health For Kids, 2008).
Dyslexia has been defined in various ways. This exemplified in the 1968 World Federation of Neurologists that defined dyslexia 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” (MedicineNet, 2008). Based on the U.S. National Institutes of Health, dyslexia is a kind of learning disability, which can impede an individual’s ability to read, write, spell, and even to speak. Dyslexia is considered to be the most prevalent learning disability suffered by children and continues during ones’ life time (MedicineNet, 2008).
Furthermore, Dyslexia, is a kind of brain impairment that individuals suffer from. This condition is the disability to interpret written images into detailed language. In connection to this, dyslexia as a learning disability infects at least five children in grade school. Young individuals who have this learning disorder mostly show normal skills in communication. However, those students who are suffering from such have a hard time to comprehend vocal and written language (Mayo Clinic, 2007).
The United States of America, classified this condition in their related federal legal statutes that deals with special education as a “specific learning disability” or a “specific reading disability” (Allington, 2006). Basically, the above-mentioned discussions exemplified the difficulties dyslexic individuals have to go through especially when it comes to reading (Allington, 2006).
Causes of Dyslexia
In reality, there is no clear reason as to why Dyslexia occurs. However, there have been numerous studies taking place in order to find out the causes of this learning disability. As such, some possible reasons are emerging as to why Dyslexia is experience by some individuals. Some of the causes are inherited factors and hearing problems at a young age (Bradford, n.d.).
In some researches, Dyslexia is believe to be inherent in the family and is also often time accompanied by left-handedness that is also found somewhere in the family. However, this does not mean that dyslexic parents will necessarily have dyslexic children neither is it true that left-handedness will automatically result to dyslexia. Despite this, dyslexia is found in a third and a half children who have dyslexic history in their family and more than half of its family members are left-handed (Bradford, n.d.).
The recent advances in technology have improved brain scanning in the recent years, which have been essential in studying the brains of dyslexic individuals. In a study, groups of cells that should be at the surface of the brain have been detected to be beneath the surface of the brain of a dyslexic person. These cells should have move at the brain’s surface as the brain was developing in the foetus but this did not happen. These groups of cells are referred to as “ectopic” cells that are similar to ectopic pregnancy wherein the egg does not reach the womb but rather it is fertilized in the Fallopian tube. The ectopic cells are mainly situated at the left and front parts of the brain. Those parts of the brain are essential for the skills of reading and writing. Moreover, another finding in this study shows that the magno-cellular part of the brain that is responsible for an individual’s ability to perceived moving images appears to be smaller in the brains of people with dyslexia. Thus, this makes reading difficult for them (Bradford, n.d.).
The use of electroencephalogram (EEG), wherein small electrodes with wires are placed on a person’s head shows that the right side of the brain of dyslexic children is the one that functions for language related activities. Unlike non-dyslexic individuals, the left side of the brain should be one working for language activities. This could be the reason as to why dyslexic people have to work six times harder in order to accomplish language work especially the ones in written form (Bradford, n.d.).
Hearing problems at a young age is also another possible cause of dyslexia. A child who experience frequent colds and throat infections during the first years of ones’ life could caused the ear blockage that affects the sense of hearing. This ailment is sometimes referred to as “glue ear” or “conductive hearing loss”. If this condition is not detected in its early stages then it would result to a disorder because the brain does not create a connection in the sounds it hears. Being the case, learning sounds and word that is essential in the ability of a child to deal with language and text is affected. Hearing problems could also result in the deficiency of phonemic awareness. As a result, having such kind of problem could bring lifelong disorders like dyslexia, if it is not address immediately (Bradford, n.d.).
Characteristics of Dyslexia
The main characteristic of this disorder is the significant difference between the intelligence of a person and his or her ability to read that is not caused by any physical, emotional, or cultural reasons. In simple terms, this means that an individual could be dyslexic if he or she is smart enough to read but failed to do so (Reynolds, n.d.).
There are several common characteristics of this learning disorder. First, the family background of the individual has a history of reading problems. Second, it occurs more dominantly in males with an 8:1 ration. Third, a dyslexic person mostly has an average or even above average IQ and commonly proficient in math. Fourth, an individual with this disorder does not find pleasure in reading as a leisure activity. Fifth, the person has problems with the reversal of letter and word. Sixth, there are problems with regard to coordination and left/right dominance that has developed through time. Seventh, the person has a hard time in auditory language activities such as word finding, fluency, meaning, or sequence. Eight, the person has a hard time in transferring information from what is seen to what is heard and vice versa. Ninth, specific reading problems are also observed like difficulties in: pronouncing words, identifying similarities and differences in words as well as letter sound (Reynolds, n.d.).
The characteristics of dyslexia are not only limited to what have been previously discussed. There are also other characteristics that might pertain to this learning disorder.
Diagnostic of Dyslexia
Dyslexia is a learning disability that is difficult to diagnose. Psychologist and other health professional have to consider many factors in order to identify this disorder (MedicineNet, 2008). Diagnosis begins with the awareness of the parents or teachers of the child regarding the existing reading problem. A physician first explores the nature of the disorder. Then, a medical practitioner would further investigate the reason as to why the reading problem occurs by performing a complete physical examination as well as conducting an extensive interview about the patient’s health history. The child could also be advised to undergo a neurological examination if necessary (Reynolds, n.d.).
If the preliminary findings indicate that the patient might be suffering from dyslexia, the physician would refer the child to a specialist wherein more evaluation and treatment would be conducted through a psycho-educational diagnosis. The diagnostic process has the main purpose of isolating the specific problems connected with dyslexia as well as to recommend the necessary educational intervention. Most of the time, the diagnostician will conduct a battery of assessment instruments, which will examine the relation of specific reading problems to the capabilities of the individual in terms of intellect, achievement, perception, motor as well as linguistic in order to validate whether a person is indeed suffering from dyslexia or not (Reynolds, n.d.).
The prognosis for individuals with dyslexia is very good due to the fact that many successful people are diagnosed with this disorder. The performance of each dyslexic person in his or her everyday life is based upon the distinct problem that each of them has (Health Encyclopedia, 2007).
Prognosis for this disorder is even better when it is diagnosed during its early stages. The support coming from family, friends, and teachers in order to help a dyslexic person to develop a strong self-image is an essential factor towards addressing this problem. Moreover, quality remedial program is also necessary to attain the greatest progress possible (Health Encyclopedia, 2007).
Dyslexia is a lifelong learning disability. Despite this fact, most children with this learning disorder excel in the academic and professional realms. The point of view for each dyslexic child is dependent upon the severity of the disorder as well as how early it was diagnosed and the kind and quality of the treatment that was made (Aetna InteliHealth, 2006).
The National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development have conducted a number of studies and researches regarding children and students with reading difficulties. According to the studies made, it found out that the most effective method to be applied to the disorder of these children is the multi-sensory method of teaching. This kind of teaching method helps the children to learn how to use all of their senses (Dyslexia Teacher, n.d.).
The five sensory organ of a child is further developed by means of materials that aid in their progress. In terms of their sense of hearing, the child is trained to listen to what that the teacher would say. Looking at images, colors, and diagrams that motivates learning enhances the sense of sight. In line with this, the eyesight is further developed as the children are taught how to read and identify information that is found in the instructor’s board (Dyslexia Teacher, n.d.).
Another technique used is the confidence building of dyslexic individuals. This is due to the fact that children suffering from dyslexia often experience failure in their homes and schools as well as in the company of their friends, which is why it is essential to enhance their self-worth. The participation of parents and guardian is very vital in order for this technique to be effective. They should look at dyslexic children in a different light. Despite the age and difficulties experience by these children who have dyslexia, it is best to treat them as normal individuals (Dyslexia Teacher, n.d.).
Moreover, parental involvement is indeed very important and this is proven by a new teaching curriculum for dyslexic children, which is called as home school reading program. The parents can conduct this program to their children in order to help them develop their learning ability. This kind of home school teaching program has four major divisions, namely: 1) “S.P.I.R.E,” 2) “Writing Road to Reading,” 3) “Reading Reflex” and 4) “Speed Reading 4 Kids” (Cook, 2008).
Second Language Learners
Dyslexic children who need to learn a new language is also given due attention by means of a bilingual special education. Bilingual special education provides the opportunity for children to enhance their language skills despite their disorder. It is designed to specifically attend to students with disabilities such as deafness, blindness and mental disabilities like dyslexia.
The developers of bilingual special education programs put into consideration three factors in order to properly help a dyslexic student with this kind of program. These factors are: the degree of disability, the level of proficiency in terms of the English language and the native language, as well as the intelligence of the student. The results of these factors would measure the capacity of the student and thus, aid in determining the kind of instruction and the educational placement that is needed (Baca, 1991). Nevertheless, this program is proven to be effective to attend to the needs of children with various disabilities and this includes reading disorder or dyslexia.
Modern technology also has an essential role in addressing learning disorders like dyslexia. Computer technology aids in improving and developing the writing skills of dyslexic children. In line with this, using computers aid in lessening spelling and handwriting problems. This technological approach also makes teachers, parents and guardians properly address the needs of the student and make them more expressive towards other people. Moreover, this kind of technology helps individuals with dyslexia to regain composure, enhance their self-worth, and avoid more disappoints in their learning process (Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, 2008).
Being the case, further advances in computer technology, which is currently observable also entails more development in addressing the problem of dyslexia. Teaching professionals and even parents could take advantage of this technology in order to further attend to the needs of dyslexic children. Future trends would also be guided with this kind of technology not only in teaching strategies but also in further researches regarding this disorder.
Even though dyslexia is considered as one of the most prevalent learning disorders that young individuals suffer from, the continuous research and development in this area have also been beneficial in order to address this particular disability. With the proper application of special teaching strategies, dyslexia could be easily managed in order to assist the growth of individuals that have this learning disability.
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