What is Dyslexia?
“Dyslexia is a reading difficulty in a child or adult who otherwise has good intelligence, strong motivation and adequate schooling……Dyslexia reflects a problem within the language system in the brain” ( Shaywitz, 2003 )
In 1887, the word “dyslexia” was coined by Berlin, a German doctor, from 2 Greek words : Dys ( difficulty ) and Lexia ( the use of words ).
Here’s a few simple facts about dyslexia :
- The most obvious sign of dyslexia is an unexpected difficulty in learning to read. If you have never heard about dyslexia, such children just puzzle you, you wonder why they don’t learn.
- Dyslexia is more than just a reading problem, it is a syndrome ( symptoms that often goes together ) Problems usually include reading, spelling, pronunciation, recall of words for speaking / writing and memorizing sequences.
- Dyslexia is a specific learning disability – it affects only one area of learning. There appears to be a “glitch” in the neural wiring when it first laid down during embryonic development, but this mis-wiring is confined to the specific neural system used for reading. A dyslexic child is different from a “slow learner” ( low IQ ), who finds all kinds of learning difficult.
- Other areas of development are not affected and dyslexics demonstrate average or even higher levels of achievement in activities such as drawing and other visual arts, in music in drama and in sports. They often think in very creative ways and may be good problem solvers.
Studies show that approximately 10% of school-age children experience dyslexic-type difficulties. About 4% have problems that are severe enough to be a real handicap to their learning in a traditional classroom.
Dyslexia is not a “all-or-nothing” condition. A person may be mildly, moderately or severely dyslexic. Another thing to remember is that each dyslexic has his/her own set of symptoms. For example, one dyslexic may read quite well, but find it difficult to learn spelling or to express ideas clearly. Another may struggle with reading, but be very fluent when he speaks.
Each dyslexic has his own personal set of difficulties, but with appropriate help, most of them CAN learn to read and write well enough to become successful students. They CAN complete secondary school and go on to university or other tertiary institution.