Dyslexia is the leading source of learning disability in the United States. Although this disorder can create problems for children under traditional methods of education, therapies help children with dyslexia learn to read more easily, perform well in school and lead successful and satisfying lives.
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What is Dyslexia?
According to the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, dyslexia affects 15 to 20 percent of the U.S. population. Children starting to read are using a number of skills as they learn to associate letters with words. At first this process is difficult and requires concentration, but with time the steps become automatic. The brains of people with dyslexia have an information processing problem which prevents them from making these associations easily, so reading is always an effort. Although there is no cure for dyslexia, therapies and coping strategies can help children and adults become better readers and discover different ways to learn.
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People with dyslexia often learn better by adopting a multisensory approach which includes other forms of visual learning as well hearing- and touch-based education. MayoClinic.com cites five areas reading specialists emphasize with their dyslexic clients. Phonemic awareness is the ability to break words down into individual sounds. Phonics associates those sounds with specific letters or letter combinations. Oral reading adds an auditory component to learning which helps students retain information. Finally, they work with students to build their vocabularies and improve reading comprehension.
Although the information-processing problem which causes dyslexia cannot be cured at this time, when children learn to work around the problem they can become exceptional students. The children become less frustrated with school, and as their attitudes improve so does their motivation. Their self-esteem rises as they come to understand that they are not "stupid"; they simply learn differently than other students do. The earlier students get help, the better. The International Dyslexia Association reports that children who get phonological training in kindergarten or first grade have fewer problems learning to read at their grade level than dyslexic students who don't get help until the third grade.
Dyslexia is not a problem of word reversal or letter order. These problems are common with all students learning to read. It is not a sign of low intelligence. MayoClinic.com reports that children with dyslexia usually have normal intelligence unless it occurs with other neurological problems. Many people with dyslexia can learn to read at their grade levels and succeed in school, and dyslexia is not an obstacle to personal or professional success.
Parents are an essential part of the support structure for children with dyslexia. They need to read to their children and help them understand the value of learning this difficult skill. They need to provide emotional support when their children feel frustrated or not valued. Children should be encouraged to find additional successes in other areas such as art or sports. Parents should work with the school to ensure the child is getting the help needed.