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Dyslexia: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

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What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a learning disorder that can affect ability with reading. People with dyslexia usually have trouble reading at a fast pace and also tend to make mistakes. Besides reading, they might also have trouble with spelling, writing, math and understanding comprehension. Dyslexia means that the person has trouble connecting the letter they view with the sounds these letters make, leading them to struggle with reading, writing and spelling (x).

Experts and doctors believe that about 5-10 percent of the total population experience this disorder. In most cases, about 17 percent of people may show symptoms of reading troubles. The sad part is that children with dyslexia don’t outgrow this condition. They tend to have trouble with spelling, are slow readers and also mix up words. Some are diagnosed early while others understand they are dyslexic in their adulthood.

Kids generally don’t have any trouble with their vision and are usually as smart as the next person. However, they might have to put in more effort at school since it takes them longer to read, write, spell and do math (x).

There are different tests and diagnosis available for children and adults. It is quite easy to determine if one is dyslexic. Those having this disorder can use specific teaching approaches and strategies to help manage and build their skills (x).

Types of Dyslexia

Phonological Dyslexia

A person with phonological dyslexia has trouble breaking down words and relating each sub-word to its phonetics. This is also called as auditory dyslexia or dysphonic dyslexia. In this condition, there is no trouble speaking or reproducing different sounds as people speak. Trouble arises when they are unable to identify individual phonetics associated with each word and its syllables (x, x).

Surface Dyslexia

A person with surface dyslexia isn’t able to identify a word by seeing it. This makes it infinitely more difficult for children to remember and learn. It also takes them longer to process the various nuances of a language. They have difficulties in seeing irregular and complete words, which takes them longer to read (x, x).

Rapid Naming Deficit

With this disorder, the affected person would not be able to name a number or a letter immediately when they see it. They generally require some time to process it (x, x).

Double Deficit Dyslexia

With this form of dyslexia, many find it difficult to separate the letters and numbers from the sounds it is associated with in their language (x, x).

Other Learning Disabilities With Dyslexia

Dysgraphia

Dysgraphia affects writing and information processing. This can make writing very tough for children, leading to weak understanding, bad spelling and poor handwriting. They will also find it difficult to properly write and arrange sentences or numbers in a line (x, x).

Dyscalculia

This type of dyslexia involves math and is also called number dyslexia. It is usually associated with language processing difficulties and visual-spatial challenges. They generally find it tough to process and understand what they hear (x, x).

Signs of Dyslexia

Dyslexia usually varies from person to person. The symptoms and signs of dyslexia can differ widely between different age groups.

Signs Before School Age

Preschoolers can face trouble with pronunciation as they struggle to pronounce commonly used words. Kids with verbal dyslexia might also have difficulties learning nursery rhymes or rhyming songs. Children could also have issues with learning colors, shapes and alphabets. They may also not be able to follow directions correctly or even remember them correctly (x, x).

Signs During School Age

School-going children with dyslexia generally find it tough to learn sounds and corresponding pronunciation and names. They tend to get confused between similar sounds and letters. The kids could also find it difficult to remember the spelling of words and have trouble reading. They could also end up writing words backwards or confuse certain alphabets with each other. Since they find it harder to read, dyslexic children may try avoiding reading aloud in front of the class (x, x).

Signs in Teenagers

Dyslexic teenagers could read slowly and may lag behind the average rate of their peers. They are prone to leaving out smaller words and even some parts of longer words out. They might have difficulty understanding and remembering idioms, puns, abbreviations and more. High school students may misspell the same words in different ways in a single assignment. They could also face trouble learning a foreign language (x, x).

Other Symptoms

Besides issues with reading, spelling and doing math, dyslexic kids may also learn to crawl, walk, talk and cycle later than their peers. They may also take longer to learn how to speak and, while learning, may be unable to distinguish between different word-sounds and mispronounce words (x).

There is also a higher chance for dyslexic kids for developing immunological issues like asthma, eczema, hay fever and allergies. Dyslexia could lead to poor hand-eye coordination, leading the child to seem clumsy and awkward. Children with dyslexia usually confuse left and right and, at times, may even reverse letters and numbers. They also find it tough to concentrate since they have to put in more effort to learn the same thing, leading to mental exhaustion (x, x).

Signs of Dyslexia

Causes of Dyslexia

Although the exact cause of dyslexia is not known, experts believe that genes and heredity can be one possible cause.

Hereditary

Many experts believe that dyslexia is associated with genes, especially considering that the disorder is related to processing language and reading. Since reading trouble runs in families, doctors believe a genetic link may be present. A person is more likely to be dyslexic if a close family member has it (x, x).

Risk Factors

  • Family history: A child is more likely to be affected by this disorder it there is a family history of dyslexia or any other learning disorder (x, x).
  • Birth: Birth could play a role in getting affected by dyslexia. Premature birth and low birth weight could lead to a child being impacted with dyslexia as well (x, x).
  • Lifestyle: Exposure to nicotine, drugs and alcohol during pregnancy could also lead a child being born dyslexic. Certain infections during pregnancy could also lead to this (x, x).

Complications

  • Trouble learning: Since reading is a compulsory and basic skill in schools, a dyslexic child could find it difficult to keep up with their friends, even if they are just as smart. They may also have issues with phonological awareness, which refers to identifying the difference in speech sounds, leading to difficulties understanding things (x, x, x).
  • Social problems: Persons with dyslexia could also face social issues in addition to reading and math. They may suffer from anxiety, aggression, low self-esteem and withdrawal. Dyslexia could also lead to behavioral problems (x, x).
  • Long-term complications: The inability of a child to effectively read and understand a piece of text could stand it their way of success. This could have educational, social and economic consequences (x, x).
  • ADHD: Kids with dyslexia also have a higher chance of having attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. It is true the other way around as well. ADHD makes it tough to pay attention for longer periods and can cause hyperactivity and impulsive behavior, making treatment difficult (x, x).

Diagnosing Dyslexia

There is no one single test that can diagnose dyslexia and confirm the same. Many factors need to be considered before dyslexia can be diagnosed with certainty. However, there are some tests that could play a role in effectively diagnosing this disorder (x, x).

Reading & Academic Skills

A dyslexic kid could be given a set of educational tests where the quality of the reading skills for that age is analyzed by an expert. This is usually done in a friendly and informal environment so as to put the child at ease (x, x).

Questionnaires

The doctor can have a questionnaire which family members and teachers might need to fill out. There would also be a child-friendly version of the same. In addition to this, your child may be given some tests to understand their language and reading skills. The questionnaire would be analyzed in light of their skills (x, x).

Vision, Hearing & Neurological Tests

These tests could help the doctors understand if dyslexia or any other disorder is affecting the child’s reading ability (x).

Psychological Testing

In this type of testing, the doctor may ask questions to understand the child’s mental health better. This will help them analyze if anxiety, social problems, other learning disabilities or depression is affecting your child’s growth (x, x).

Medical History and Home Life

Since dyslexia can be linked to genes, questions may be asked about your home life and about the medical history of close family members. This can shed a light on your child’s issue (x).

Managing Dyslexia

Although there is no proper cure for dyslexia, a child or adult can benefit greatly from special support. This includes special educational techniques and early treatment for the same.

Educational Techniques

Overcoming dyslexia is not as difficult as one would think with these educational techniques. One-to-one educative sessions with a specialist tutor, a phonics-based reading program, a multi-sensory approach to learning and special arrangements at school could all help. A phonics-based reading program will help the child develop a link between the word and its phonetics. A multi-sensory approach will use different senses like listening, speaking, visual aids and more. If the school can authorize oral exams instead of written ones, the child’s understanding and knowledge can still be tested, and they will not be at a disadvantage either (x, x).

Early Treatment

If a child is dyslexic, the dyslexia treatment should ideally start right away. Early treatment is the most effective and pays off the best. Counseling will help the child deal with the negative effects of low self-esteem. This will also offer them support and guidance at a time when they feel lost. Ongoing evaluations can help both children and adults in developing their understanding strategies and figure out where they need more help (x, x).

The Bottom Line

Dyslexia refers to a learning disorder that could affect one’s ability to read, spell, understand rhyming words and do math. Dyslexic people usually find it tough to associate the word they see with the phonetics of that word, making it hard to read long texts. Signs of dyslexia could vary with age. Common symptoms include the inability to read at a good pace, mispronouncing words, misspelling words, reversing words, finding it tough to memorize rhyming words and confusing left from right.

There is no known cause for dyslexia. It is believed that it could be linked to genes and could be hereditary. Family history, lifestyle, having alcohol or drugs during pregnancy could also lead to a child’s dyslexia. Early treatment is the most effective way to treat and manage dyslexia.

About the author

Sukriti Taneja


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