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What exactly is dyslexia?

        Health | Neurological Conditions

Dyslexia Symptoms

Dyslexia affects a wide range of people. It can manifest itself in many ways from person to person. Some common signs to look for in younger children are:

  • May have difficulty pronouncing words
  • May not be able to make the connection between letters and sounds
  • May have difficulty learning the alphabet, numbers, or other important sequential lists such as the days of the week
  • May have difficulty in telling time

Older, middle-school-aged children can exhibit some of the following symptoms:

  • May have difficulty with spelling, often misspelling the same word in several different ways
  • May reverse number and letter sequences or transpose math symbols
  • May dislike or avoid reading aloud
  • May have difficulty writing
  • May be reading at a level much lower than his or her actual grade level
  • May have difficulty remembering

It is not uncommon for dyslexia to be diagnosed in high school or college students or even in adults. Some signs to look for at these ages are:

  • May have difficulty with time management
  • May have trouble spelling words correctly
  • May rely on oral language skills more than on writing or may avoid writing altogether
  • May not be able to comprehend abstract concepts
  • May have difficulty answering open-ended questions on tests or in interviews
  • May have trouble with planning and organization skills
  • May have difficulty summarizing or outlining thoughts

Individuals may show signs of any of these or a number of other possible symptoms. Just because someone exhibits a few of these, however, does not mean that they have dyslexia. A person must undergo a series of tests before proper diagnosis can occur. A qualified educational consultant, therapist or other specialist will administer a battery of tests that might assess spelling, math, drawing, sequencing, visual acuity and scanning ability and overall intelligence.

One common sentiment that many children with dyslexia report is a feeling of inadequacy -- feeling "dumb." It is important to note that people who are quite intelligent can be dyslexic. In fact, many people who have dyslexia excel in areas that do not require good language skills. There are a number of notable people in the fields of science, entertainment, sports and politics who are dyslexic (see sidebar).

Learning disorders such as dyslexia are considered life-long disorders, meaning that they never go away. One treatment that has seen a good amount of success relies on a structured, multi-sensory approach to teaching. Studies suggest that the learning process for dyslexics is enhanced when auditory, visual and tactile senses can be combined in one learning experience. This approach, developed by combining the methods of Dr. Samuel Torrey Orton with those of Anna Gillingham, has been used for more than 50 years. Early detection and intervention is preferred so that young dyslexics can learn to compensate for their disability by the time they reach adulthood. However, that does not mean that older dyslexics cannot benefit from other forms of training. No matter what age, if you suspect that you may have a learning disorder, and it is impeding your school or work performance, it's a good idea to get tested.

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