Reading Struggles with Dyslexia (part 1)
In America, the struggle of so many to read fluently is a pressing topic of conversation in our homes, schools, the workplace, and even government agencies. Our nation worries about the low literacy rate. Companies are concerned about their workers’ ability to learn. School budgets and limited staff struggle under the weight of federal mandates and the learning challenges of their students. Homeschool moms often question their ability to teach even though there was success with other children. At the heart of the struggle is often the debilitating diagnosis of dyslexia, affecting an estimated 5-15% or more of U.S. children and often called the most frequently occurring learning disability and the most common disorder of childhood.
What is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia, the word that strikes fear and dread in the hearts of thousands of parents each year, is a complicated and controversial diagnosis. A definition used to describe, identify and treat this malady was proposed by the World Federation of Neurology in the 1960s. It states:
“Dyslexia is a disorder manifested by difficulty learning to read despite conventional instruction, adequate intelligence, and socio-culture opportunity.”
This definition seems to focus more on what dyslexia is not rather than what it is. Testing typically include diagnostic tests and questionnaires consisting of a list of symptoms. Parents are given this devastating diagnosis and are routinely told that teaching coping and compensating skills is the ONLY answer. They see this proverbial “pile of bricks” loaded on their child’s back and are told he has to carry it around for the rest of his life. Instead of “labeling” a particular group of symptoms, it is much more productive to look for the root causes of these symptoms and treat the root.
With the right kind of stimulation (different activities and influences from the environment), you can change in the brain’s wiring system. No, this is not brain surgery! The correct stimulation takes the existing brain connections that currently resembling “dirt paths” and causes them to become “super highways” in transporting information from brain to body for better overall function.
What are the symptoms of dyslexia?
Over the past 100 years, dyslexic symptoms have been articulated by researchers, and include deficits in some or many of the following the area: phonological awareness, balance, motor control, visual discrimination, visual and auditory short term memory, and listening skills. Problems are often characterized by reversing or transposing letters, clumsiness, and heightened emotionality. More research appears to have resulted in less understanding and greater confusion. This seems unacceptable and scientifically unsound. The question remains, what is to be made of unexpected reading failure in otherwise average or above functioning students?
Stay tuned for part 2 in this series on Dyslexia