What is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a type of learning disability some kids have. Children with dyslexia have difficulty learning to read and spell, even though they are smart enough and are motivated to learn. Characteristic features of dyslexia are difficulties in phonological awareness, verbal memory and processing speed.

The word dyslexia comes from two Greek words: dys, which means abnormal or impaired, and lexis, which refers to language or words. Researchers have found that dyslexia is caused by a difference in the way the dyslexic brain processes information.
The brain is divided into 2 hemispheres. The left hemisphere is in charge of language and ultimately reading. The right side of the brain generally handles spatial activities. Research has found that those with dyslexia rely more on the right side of the brain than those without it.

Signs and Symptoms that may appear in early childhood include:
  • Delayed speech development in comparison with other children of the same age
  • Difficulty learning to read
  • Pronunciation and speech problems, such as not being able to pronounce long words properly and "jumbling" up phrases – for example, saying "hecilopter" instead of "helicopter", "saw" instead of "was", or "beddy tear" instead of "teddy bear".
  • little understanding of rhyming words (like hat, pat, and fat)
  • Impaired ability to learn basics such as the letters of the alphabet, numbers, and days of the week.
  • Difficulty maintaining attention
  • Poor short term memory or memory for sequences
  • Left-right confusion
  • Difficulties with math

Dyslexia often runs in families; studies have identified a number of genes that may predispose an individual to developing it.

There's no cure for dyslexia. The usual course is to modify teaching methods and the educational environment to meet the specific needs of the individual with dyslexia. Emotional support also plays an important role.

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