When letters are introduced many children tend to reverse their letters while reading and writing. But did you know that reversing letters is not a sure sign of dyslexia and not all children with dyslexia reverse their letters?
Two years back my little one would often get confused with the b’s and d’s. My husband would often question me, “why does she get confused, is everything fine”. A lot of children get confused in these when they start learning their alphabets. As time passed by, she also got over this.
It is very common for children to get confused with letters. Many get over this but some don’t. These children may have a learning disability. The only time we came so close to learning disabilities was when ‘Taare Zameen Par’ released. The little boy does not understand numbers and is confused with letters is always belittled by his friends and teachers. But the little boy has a hidden talent which no one is aware of. Since one size does not fit all, similarly the same education system cannot be used for everyone.
One of the most common learning disability is Dyslexia. This is a neurobiological brain difference, where the child’s ability to control language is affected to read, write and spell. Children with dyslexia are smart and have trouble with joining the letters to the sounds the letters make.
Causes of dyslexia:
To some extent, the condition is genetic. If a child is struggling to read, chances are that a parent has dyslexia. This condition starts from the differences by the part of the brain which is responsible for processing language. In a dyslexic child, this area does not work properly.
When letters are introduced to children, their phonics are also introduced. The phonics helps a child to make out the sound the letter makes like B produces “buh” sound, M produces “em” sound. Once they are clear with the sounds then they arrange the sounds to form the words … like R-A-T becomes “rat”.
But in children with dyslexia, the part of the brain responsible has a rather hard time figuring out the sounds the letters make. Since they don’t recognise the sounds they are not able to blend the letters. They often land up mixing the spellings and might read “rat” as “tar”.
Difficulties and Strengths of Dyslexia:
Since the signs appear as early as preschool, it is important as a parent or a teacher to know what to look for. Sally Shaywicz, the author of Overcoming Dyslexia, says that there are many signs as well as strengths of dyslexia. Here is what to look out for in the early years through school:
- Has trouble in learning the common nursery rhymes
- Has difficulty in remembering names of the alphabets
- Do not recognise the letters of their own name
- Have difficulty in recognising rhyming words like rat, bat, cat
Kindergarten and Grade First: Here I shall discuss both the difficulties and strengths:
- Errors in reading and no connection to the sounds of the letters. Example, On a page illustrated with a picture of a cat, will say ‘kitten’ instead of the written word ‘cat’
- Do not have an idea that the words can be broken down
- Run away from their reading time as they find reading difficult
- Has problems in reading simple words like nap, cat, map, lap
- Has a problem in connecting the letter with their sounds
- These children are curious
- Very creative with a great imagination
- They have the potential to find how things work
- They understand new concepts
- Love to solve puzzles
- Show an interest in building models like Lego
- They have a good grasp of the stories which are told or read out to them
Grade 2 to High School:
- Reading: These children read in an awkward and slow manner. Since they cannot associate the sound of the letter they land up making guesses when reading unfamiliar words. They avoid reading loudly.
- Speaking: These children hesitate while speaking. They use a lot of “um’s” in their conversation. They often confuse words that sound similar, like ocean and lotion. They take extra time to answer questions and mispronounce unfamiliar or complicated words.
- The Difficulty at School and in Daily Life: They have a hard time remembering names, dates and phone numbers. They often grapple through a test with spelling mistakes and dirty handwriting. They suffer from low self-esteem.
- They have a good idea about conceptualization, reasoning, imagination, abstraction
- They learn best through meaning rather than cramming
- They always see the bigger picture
- Have a higher level of understanding and reading words especially in their area of interest
- They have a good listening vocabulary
- Do well in subjects where reading is not required. Like math, visual arts and computers
Dyslexia In India
As per the Dyslexia Association of India, about 10-15% of school going children suffer from dyslexia. This accounts for almost 35 million children. It is not restricted to the language English but happens in all languages. The fact that our country is multilingualism also affects the difficulty.
Since there is a lack of awareness among parents and teachers, most of the times dyslexia goes undiagnosed in India. To overcome this gap a tool has been developed by National Brain Research Centre (NBRC) keeping in mind the ‘Make in India’ and Skill Development’ policy. The tool known as Dyslexia Assessment in Languages of India (DALI), is a package that contains screening tools for teachers and assessment tools for psychologists. This is for the first time that India has developed assessment and screening tools which are standardized and validated. The tool is available in English, Hindi, Kannada and Marathi. Development of other languages is under process.
Theme Reveal, A – Autism, B – Bronchiolitis, C – Celiac Disease, E – Eating Disorders, F – Fever, G – GERD, H – Hand Foot And Mouth Disease (HFMD), I – Imaginary Friends, J – Juvenile Arthritis, K – Kawasaki Disease, L – Leukaemia, M – Meningitis, N – Neuroblastoma, O – Omphalitis, P – Pica, Q – Q Fever, R – Retinoblastoma, S – SIDS, T – Tetanus, U – Urinary Tract Infection, V – Vomiting, W – Wilms’ Tumour, X – Xeroderma Pigmentosum, Y – Year-Round Allergies, Z – Zika Virus