Learning Disability: Dyslexia

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Yesterday, we discussed learning disabilities in general and the prevalent myths people have about them. We also provided some truths about learning disabilities to combat these misconceptions. We are going to spend the rest of the week talking about specific learning disabilities and how to accommodate them in the workplace. First up, Dyslexia!

Dyslexia is the most commonly known learning disability. This isn't surprising as it is estimated that upwards of 15-20% of the general population display some of the symptoms associated with dyslexia. Yet many people misunderstand the symptoms and causes behind this disorder. 

One of the biggest myths surrounding dyslexic individuals is that they simply read backwards. Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability where people have difficulties acquiring and using written language. Spelling may look jumbled at times but that is because a person with dyslexia may be having problems remembering letter symbols and forming words from memory. In short, the brain does not properly recognize and process certain symbols. As we mentioned in our article on learning disability myths, this is not a vision problem and cannot be corrected through the use of glasses or vision therapy. 

Troubles with word recognition, and reading and writing fluency, can manifest itself in many ways. Some people may develop excellent reading skills at an early part in their life but struggle with complex language skills like grammar and essay writing later. People with dyslexia may confuse letters like 'b' for 'd', but they also may struggle to determine the meaning (idea) of a simple sentence or have difficulty recognizing certain written words. They may also face challenges related to spoken language and not be able to express themselves clearly or recognize the meaning in something said to them. 

Obviously, difficulty with word recognition and language skills can cause a person with dyslexia to struggle in a learning environment. The severity and type of symptoms differs for each individual and thus treatment must also be individualized. Using a multisensory, structured approach can help people with dyslexia learn in a way which involves all their senses in a systematic way. Audio books, text reading computer problems and taped tests are examples of academic accommodations. Tutors and longer time to complete tasks can also be a major help. 

It is important to note that with dyslexia, and other learning disabilities, that the condition isn't associated with a lack of intelligence. People with dyslexia have average or above average intelligence and with proper help can learn to read and write well. 


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