Dyslexia is the most common learning disability in Canada and is defined by the International Dyslexia Association as neurological in origin. Dyslexia is characterized by difficulties with fluent and accurate word recognition and also by poor spelling and decoding abilities.These difficulties emerge early in life and typically result from a phonological deficit that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities — which is to say that a child may learn to speak at a very quick pace only to experience a sudden halt at the reading level. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension as well as a reduced reading experience that can impede the vocabulary growth and the accumulation of background knowledge.
According to the experts at Toronto’s Simone Friedman SLS, someone with dyslexia has trouble reading and writing even though he or she has the necessary motivation and intelligence required to learn to read. Many people with dyslexia have average or above average intelligence but their brains simply have a difficult time receiving, remembering, organizing, or using information.
Although people with dyslexia often experience trouble understanding words they themselves read, they can usually understand the same words when they are read back to them aloud by another person. Researchers are unsure of the exact causes of dyslexia, but they think the problem affects the way the brain processes information. Some experts also believe that genetics play a part, as well, as dyslexia tends to run in families (even though no specific dyslexia gene has been found).A person with dyslexia may experience difficulty:
- Identifying words
- Recognizing the sounds that make up words
- Understanding and remembering what is read
- Translating printed words into spoken words
- Organizing or sequencing thoughts
- Rhyming words
- Learning the alphabet and numbers during preschool and kindergarten
For example, a person with dyslexia might reverse or misread letters or words, such as confusing the letter “b” with “d” or read the number “6” as “9.” He or she can read the word “was” as “saw” or can change the order of words in a sentence, causing further difficulty.Because of these difficulties, a person with dyslexia usually reads slowly and tends to hesitate more often than expected, which can cause serious delays in reading comprehension.Dyslexia is not a vision problem —the eyes do not see the wrong words, but instead the brain has trouble processing the visual information.
While there is no single test to diagnose dyslexia, speech language pathologists can administer a number of standardized tests to evaluate a child’s intelligence, language, behavior and academic skills — and to diagnose the condition.
At the Simone Friedman SLS clinic, the following areas are assessed and addressed in a multi-sensory direct instruction treatment program:
- Letter Recognition
- Word Attack / Word Identification
- Sound / Letter Correspondence
- Phonological Awareness
- Orthographic Awareness
- Continuous Text Reading Skills
If you wish to have your child diagnosed, assessed, or treated, consider contacting a speech language therapy clinic near you. Remember that proactive decision-making is key to early success!