can appear in differing levels of intensity, affecting the reading
achievement of some individuals more than others can. It is usually
identified during childhood, but it continues to affect individuals
throughout their lives.
the condition is
Until about three decades back, many researchers believed that the
root of the problem lay in visual difficulties. Psychologists and experts
believed that dyslexic children saw letters backward or in reverse order,
such as reading “saw” as “was”, reading “d” as “b” or
“p” as “q” and so on. Recent studies however tend to dismiss the
theory and experts now claim that dyslexic children are no more prone to
reverse letters while reading and writing than are other children.
focus has now shifted towards problems distinguishing the various sounds,
or phonemes, that make up
speech. Experts say that
evidence has shown about 20 per cent of the children experience some
difficulty in distinguishing the individual sounds of spoken words.
However, most of those children benefit from specialized instruction to
treat reading problems early. Only one to two per cent of the children
continues to exhibit reading difficulties after they receive such
There can be many symptoms that may point to dyslexia.
They are usually detected in a child in the early school years.
of the most glaring pointers include: extremely poor reading skills owing
to no apparent cause, a tendency to read and write words and letters in
reversed sequences, transposing letters in a word (such as writing
“salpsh” for “splash” or “wrdol” for “world”, similar
reversals of words and letters when reading aloud and in day to day conversation, and illegible handwriting.
can have manifestations such as behavioral problems, hyperactivity,
nightmares, inability to follow a string of instructions, fear of some
motor activities (like swimming), fear of interacting in a group and so
The cause of the disorder still remains unknown. Some studies have
pointed to anomalies in the respective functioning of the left and right
hemispheres of the brain as a possible cause, but a conclusive explanation
is yet to be arrived at.
Some researchers have suggested that dyslexia is more common in some
families than others, leading to the belief there may be a genetic basis
for dyslexia, but there has been no conclusive proof or evidence.
Some researchers strongly argue that a diagnosis of dyslexia
should be made only in children who continue to struggle with reading,
even after they have received good grounding in reading and writing at the
kindergarten and early primary levels of schooling. A child may not respond well
in group instructional settings, but may pick up well in one-to-one or
small group settings. This alone would not warrant a diagnosis of
dyslexia. Such a diagnosis is appropriate only if the problem remains even
after the child has received intensive tutorial instruction to correct
Dyslexia is best treated by a sustained course of proper instruction
in reading. It has been found that one-to-one tutorial has been effective
in many a child.
the case of Indian children, tuition in addition to regular school
academics may not be the answer to the problem. For, most dyslexic
children are not suited for structured learning and the concept of tuition
(as it exists in India) is nothing but more of the same thing. Rather than
help the child, it may put him off studies. He or she may begin to hate
studies, and any activity related to reading or writing, even if it is
watching television or participating in children’s activities.
Counseling, play therapy, kinesiology and other alternate therapies help
to a very large extent.
is believed that boys are more affected by dyslexia than girls. However,
recent research has suggested that boys probably only tend to show
symptoms earlier. When it came to studying the proportion of boys to girls
in actual manifestation, the ratio between the two was equal.
Only a small minority of dyslexics remains non-readers into adulthood.
However, many continue to read and spell poorly throughout their lifetime.
Another notable point is that they frequently perform above average on
non-verbal tests of intelligence.
is not an insurmountable problem. With right support and handling,
children may be helped to overcome the difficulty and iron out
difficulties to a large extent. In many cases, it has been found that they
have exceptional talent for some other art or activity. Many children have
taken to computers like ducks to water. The right-left confusion or visual
difficulties are sorted out when the children use both hands on the
keyboard. Since there is no adult or peer to judge them and with there
being no exercise having to form letters, many dyslexic children are
comfortable using computers. However, letting the child use a computer is
only one input towards handling dyslexics.
understanding, not ridiculing, intensive small group or one-to-one
tutorial instruction, sports and an art form given in the right doses and
with sustained persistence, go a long way in helping dyslexic children
overcome their problem easily come out to discover their talent, skill and
genius wherever it lies.
Like in any other
incomprehensible situation (as the children feel it), dyslexic children
are confused and scared and their self-confidence is at a very low level.
Parents and teachers should do every bit that they can to help increase a
child’s self-confidence and its feeling of self-worth. This is where pursuit of an art and a sport help additionally. The
self-expression in an art ups a child’s sense of self-worthiness. And
sports help in building the child’s self-confidence.
for awareness and sensitizing oneself:
It is rather a pity
that most of us adults and parents are not even aware that such a problem
exists. When the children are consistently poor in reading and writing,
and language skills, we tend to label them as being lazy. If the condition
is left ignored or unattended, children, especially teens, tend to drop
out of school, being unable to cope with academic pressure, comparison of
marks, poor performance and the attending fears and insecurities. Their fears are real; their nightmares are real. Please, let us
make an effort to understand them and empathize with them.
parents, we should sensitize ourselves to changes, fears and insecurities
in our children. Many teachers too are unaware about the condition called
dyslexia and tend to label the children as lazy. Worse, they negate any
support and help from parents by labeling parents too.
is no denying the fact that every child goes through some amount of
confusion and reversals. It is only us parents and the teacher that
handles the child that can be sensitive to the frequency of the confusion
and act accordingly.