Dyslexia is not a disease it is a Specific Learning Difficultywhich means there is no cure, but with carefully planned intervention and support dyslexics can be successful. Dyslexic individuals simply need to be taught in a different way, drawing on their strengths to overcome their weaknesses; ultimately a difficulty with reading and writing.
Dyslexia affects approximately 5 – 10% of the population and girls and boys are nearly affected equally. It lso has a high occurrence with other Specific Learning/Behavioural Difficulties such as Dyspraxia, ADHD, and Sensory Integration Difficulties.
Parents or Educators often first express concerns because of an unexpected difficulty with reading and writing.The child who can be good orally, but just doesn’t ‘get it’ when it comes to the paperwork. The child who can’t hear that two rhyming words sound the same, the child who can't learn their alphabet, the child who can’t follow a sequence of instructions. These are just a few of the common difficulties a dyslexic individual can have.
However, they are just that – individual. This means that you can not diagnose dyslexia according to indicators. A thorough assessment needs to be carried out by a specialist. The assessment will show to what extent the individual is underachieving and what their weaknesses are.
Most dyslexics have a phonological weakness - such as the ability to map sounds with symbols, e.g. letter sounds with letter shapes, or hear the subtle difference between sounds. This is a key skill in acquiring the skills to read and write.
To gain fluent reading and writing you need to have automaticity. Fluent readers automatically know the sound a letter makes, they automatically put letters together, dyslexics struggle to do this leading to disjointed reading and often poor comprehension. It also means they have to work much harder and therefore tire more easily.
They also have a weakness with their auditory sequential memory – the ability to sequence sounds, instructions, numbers etc. In addition to these they may also have other weaknesses which can manifest themselves in a variety of ways, such as handwriting.
Psychologists have different theories as to why Dyslexia occurs. They disagree on which areas of the brain it originates in as well as the symptoms of dyslexia. However, most hold the common belief that dyslexics use a different area of the brain to process information, and they do this more slowly than others. They also agree that dyslexics have a phonological deficit, and that this is the key skill in Literacy Acquisition.