Did you know dyslexia is one of the most common causes of reading difficulties in primary school children?

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A combination of a family history of dyslexia and symptoms of problems in spoken language can help identify a vulnerable child. (iStock)
A combination of a family history of dyslexia and symptoms of problems in spoken language can help identify a vulnerable child. (iStock)

Dr Greg Pienaar is a principal at the Bridge Assisted Learning School and holds a doctorate in Psychology. His work has focused mainly on the school-going child regarding therapy or play therapy in private practice. He continues to make a significant contribution to assisted and special needs learning through his articles in Educational and Psychological Journals and papers. 

Neurodiversity consists of many possible learning and thinking differences such as anxiety, ADHD, dyspraxia, and even autism.

However, another significant aspect of neurodiversity that impacts children's lives is that of dyslexia, which may affect a person throughout his or her life. 

Dyslexia is a specific learning variance that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterised by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and poor spelling and decoding abilities.

Some of the characterising features are as follows:

  • Difficulty with phonological processing; 
  • Difficulty with rapid naming;
  • Difficulty with working memory;
  • Difficulty with processing speed.

There are many misconceptions regarding dyslexia. Here are some of the most common:

Myth: Intelligent people cannot have dyslexia or have a learning disability

Fact: Dyslexia and intelligence are NOT connected. Many dyslexic individuals are very bright and creative and have accomplished incredible things as adults.

Myth: Dyslexia is rare.

Fact: Research has shown that dyslexia may affect from 10 to 17% of the population. Some people may have more mild forms, while others may experience it more severely. Dyslexia is one of the most common causes of reading difficulties in primary school children. 

Myth: Dyslexia can be outgrown.

Fact: Dyslexia is a lifelong barrier and will continue into adulthood. Although many people with dyslexia learn to read accurately, they may continue to read deliberately and not intuitively.

Myth: Dyslexia cannot be diagnosed until after Grade three.

Fact: Suitably trained and qualified people can identify the precursors to developing dyslexia from a pre-school level. Difficulty with phonics and word pronunciation is a good warning sign of dyslexia. It is possible to make a more definite diagnosis as soon as the child struggles with learning to read, spell, and write. The sooner a diagnosis is made, the quicker the child can get help.   

Myth: Dyslexia is not genetically based. 

Fact: It is a genetically based neurological difficulty with phoneme awareness and processing skills (the ability to perceive and manipulate speech sounds). A combination of a family history of dyslexia and symptoms of problems in spoken language can help identify a vulnerable child even before he/she begins formal schooling.  

Myth: Any child who reverses letters or numbers has dyslexia.

Fact: Up to a certain point, it is considered normal for children to reverse their letters and numbers and is actually quite common. However, if this does not stop after two years of handwriting instruction, it becomes a red flag for dyslexia.

Myth: Children with dyslexia are just lazy. They should try harder.

Fact: Lack of awareness about the disorder among educators and parents has often resulted in the child being branded as "lazy". What regularly happens is that children with these issues would rather not attempt a task than fail. 

Also read: Dyslexia affects up to 5 kids per class, yet most teachers don’t understand it well

Think of Albert Einstein

He was considered someone who would probably not succeed in life. He had speech challenges, difficulties adjusting to a rigid way of teaching, and even dropped out of school.

His teachers misjudged his potential by claiming to the world that he would fail. However, he stayed passionately curious. That was the drive that made him one of the most influential scientists of all time.

Therefore, nurture your child's talents, help them develop interests, acquire tools for learning and stay motivated. Dyslexia is not new, but our understanding and support will make a huge difference!


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