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Learning disabilities - Dyslexia Problem
The term learning disability describes children who have learning difficulties in specific areas such as reading, spelling, writing and mathematics. This group of children differs from those having handicaps such as mental retardation, visual or hearing impaired and emotional, behavioural disorders.
' Dys' means difficulty and ' lexia' means words. Dyslexia is a disorder that affects millions of people all over the world. It is one type of specific learning disability that affects a person' s ability to read.
Dyslexia is one of the several distinct learning disabilities. It is a specific language based disorder of constitutional origin, characterised by difficulties in a simple word decoding, usually reflecting insufficient phonological processing abilities.
These difficulties in single word decoding are often unexpected in relation to age and other cognitive and academic abilities. They are not the result of generalized development disability or sensory impairment. Dyslexia is a manifest by variable, difficulty with different forms of language often including problems of reading acquiring proficiency in writing and spelling.
A dyslexic learns at his or her own level and pace, typically exercise in one or more areas. Some of their experiences include difficulties with concentration, perception, memory, verbal skills, abstract reasoning, hand eye coordination, social adjustment, (low self esteem is a commonly observed in behavioural characteristics) poor grades and under achievements.
Often people with dyslexia are considered to be lazy, rebellious, clumsy, unmotivated misfits of low intelligence. These misconceptions without understanding dyslexia lead to person' s rejection, isolation and feelings of inferiority, discouragement and low self-esteem.
Dyslexia is a neurological condition, affects as much as 10% of children in India. Children have difficulty in acquiring language skills, even in environment where they do not lack comfort or stability. Thought to be genetic and hereditary some form of dyslexia can also be caused when hearing problem at an early age, affects a person' s language comprehension skills.
Dyslexic children can usually succeed at the same level as others. Once they are diagnosed they should receive extra support and attention at home and school. Dyslexia also affects adults but those who receive attention early in life often learn how to compensate for the disability by adulthood.
Dyslexic adults however find to continue to have difficulty with language skills through out their lives. But a dyslexia diagnosis is no barrier to success.
Birth trauma, use of medication like Phenobarbitone, head injuries are some of the additional factors leading to dyslexia. In 1994 the National Institute of Health (NIH) released the results of their 14-year longitudinal study and specific research projects. Some of them are:
1. Dyslexia is a visual problem. Therefore vision therapy, eye-tracking exercises and for colour lenses will solve the problem.
2. Dyslexic children see things backward
3. All children who reverse ' b' s' and d' s or p' s and q' s have dyslexia.
4. If a child does not mirror write or reverse letters and numbers he or she does not have dyslexia.
Identifying the dyslexic child:
If the child is a slow learner
1. Has difficulty in concentrating, reading writing, spelling or mathematics.
2. Shows disparity between his actual reading ability and listening or comprehension ability.
3. Is unable to learn things in a sequence and communicate ideas.
4. Has a tendency to transpose word usage to read ' was' as ' saw'
5. and reverse letters like ' p' to ' q' , ' b' for ' d' .
6. Has a strong preference for right or left-handedness, confusing with right and left.
7. Has a difficulty in memorizing, telling and distances and in eye-hand coordination.
Then the child needs treatment.
She or he is dyslexic:
Though as many as 20 genes may be involved in the reading process, two or three genes may account for most of the variation in reading difficulties in dyslexics. If these genes are identified then the children at risk could be screened much earlier.
Dyslexia can be better understood when different region of the brain are studied at different times, such as while resting, reading, sleeping and talking.
Dealing with dyslexia:
1. Professional testing is necessary for the accurate diagnosis of dyslexia.
2. A different examination criterion has to be chalked out.
3. The use of computers and calculators are very beneficial to these children.
4. There are children who need to be identified early and taught in way they can understand and learn which is not of the normal teaching style.
5. Since language is a problem, these children are to be exempted.
6. A dyslexic must have one to one training to first develop basic skills. This allows the student to stay focused.
Parents and teachers and the dyslexic child:
Not many parents are willing to come forward and acknowledge that there is something wrong with their child. This attitude in turn leads to problem for the child. When the child is young they brush it away saying he or she is only a child. When he or she grows up every thing will be all right and there in lies the problem.
Teachers punish a child for not being able to read or spell or do maths and this is often a physical abuse. Parents in their turn put a lot of stress on the child with their high expectations and if the child fails to meet these expectations he or she is consistently chided or abused.
In many cases a child who has been labeled as having a behavioural problem is really suffering from a learning disability. Without testing this may go unrecognized. The parents should help in following ways.
1. Manage his or her time.
2. To put things in its place
3. Help with his or her homework
4. Help him with his or her reading
5. To focus his or her attention.
6. To take right book to school
7. By giving precise clear instruction
8. By not punishing him or her for his or her childishness delay in completing his work etc.
9. By giving him or her constant positive inputs
10. By instructing him or her with more do' s than don' ts
11. By imparting social skills, like interaction, communication, giving respect to elders etc.
The teachers can try to meet the special needs of the children by identifying the areas of special interest and talents and help the child to build on strengths. They can help by:
1. Giving less written class work and home work
2. Testing them orally
3. Giving marks for consent without reducing marks for grammatical and spelling errors
4. Marking less red lines in the notebook
5. Introducing abstract ideas through pictures and objects.
6. Giving precise, clear and short instructions
7. Giving extended time to finish tests.
8. Reading the question paper during the class
9. Maintaining eye contact during the class
10. Not punishing the child for messy work and poor handwriting.
11. Emphasising on quality work rather than quantity
Avoiding punishments for minor misbehaviour in the class.
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