Have you noticed your child having difficulty with reading or spelling, finding it hard to remember the tables or the alphabet, writing letters the wrong way around or even having difficulty in tying shoelaces? If your answer to any of these is yes, you might want to assess your child for dyslexia.
This list of symptoms could help you in identifying a case of a dyslexic child early on: -
- Easily distracted, inattentive at most times
- Finds it hard to read
- Has trouble in expressing himself/herself
- Faces trouble with writing
- Has few friends
- Is slow to follow directions
- Mixes the order of letters or numbers while reading or writing
- Tries to avoid reading aloud
- Difficulty in learning the alphabet or memorizing rhymes
Sometimes, identifying a disorder like dyslexia can go a long way in helping the child cope with it and learn to face it head on. Alarming facts says that one or two children in every classroom in the United States have dyslexia. A brain-related disorder, dyslexia usually runs in the family and mainly impacts the reading ability of the child or adult in question.
Reading being so fundamental to the world that we are living in, dyslexia has been researched a lot. Many neurodevelopment disorders like ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and autism have also been identified as being prevalent amongst kids from an early age. What’s radically different today is that, dyslexia can be sniffed out much before a child even begins to read. This has been made possible through extensive research and can be quite a revelation in terms of how parents, academicians and medical experts tackle the issue.
Phonemes (the smallest contrastive linguistic unit which may bring about a change of meaning) create trouble for dyslexic children. Physiological differences in the brain inhibit their ability to process phonemes. For instance, to be able to differentiate the meaning between the words kiss and kill, this ability is required.
The common indicator of dyslexia amongst children till now was when the flipping of ‘b’s’ and ‘d’s’ would go on longer than the average age. However, the issue is a little graver. Kids with dyslexia find it much harder to fathom how the alphabets ‘C’, ‘A’ and ‘T’ create words with meaning. In spoken language, the use of ‘KUH”, ‘AH’ and ‘TUH’, respectively.
What kind of sociological impact must this be having on the minds of children? They have to often deal with angst, depression and a feeling of insufficiency. The fears of failure and to be ridiculed by peers are other associated problems. To understand this better, let’s look at an example. A boy’s parent’s detected dyslexia in him as early as the first grade. By the sixth grade, reading had become a huge struggle for him. Visits to the hospital and getting MRI scans had become routine. He confronted the issue very bravely, sometimes even showing his scan reports to his friends to make them understand what was different about him. But kids will be kids. Not everyone could empathize.
Neuroscientists at MIT are trying to work on a deep-seated shift in addressing dyslexia. Brain precautions taken at kindergarten itself can improve prophecy on how the child will be able to read on the future. Thus, the level of intervention required can be ascertained. MIT is able to do this by isolating a neural pathway, which is a white matter tract in the left hemisphere of the brain. This is called the arcuate fascilus. “It’s an arch-shaped bundle of fibers that connects the frontal language areas of the brain to the areas in the temporal lobe that are important for language,” Elizabeth Norton, a neuroscientist at MIT’s McGovern Institute of Brain Research, explains. Children with high pre-reading grades at the kindergarten level have a bigger arcuate fascilus that is more organized and vice versa for kids with poor scores.
While research is doing its bit in terms of identifying the symptoms very early on, its noteworthy that interventions are most successful when given as early as kindergarten or the first grade. This will help put an affected child on a different growth path as compared to children in whose cases it is discovered much later. Social stigma, children feeling severely lacking and being unable to keep up pace are adverse effects of this disorder. What is also disturbing is that not all schools are willing to be partners to this process of helping such children. Some tout lack of resources, and lack of teachers with skills to deal with this disorder.
Schoolkart urges parents to look at the positive side that if diagnosed early enough, dyslexia can be combated through a one-on-one teaching model; daily additional classes and reading help from the very beginning. Every child is capable of achieving mammoth heights; it’s just that for some of them, such weaknesses have to be nipped in the bud.