Dyslexia is a learning disorder that occurs in people who have difficulty reading due to problems they have in identifying speech sounds and relating them to letters and words in written form. Sometimes called a ‘reading disability‘, dyslexia is caused by areas of the brain that are involved in processing language. People suffering from this condition have normal intelligence and can succeed in school when offered specialized tutoring and support. While there is no cure for dyslexia its negative effects can be minimized by early assessment in children and intervention with support measures that help them to learn skills to overcome reading difficulties.
There is currently no treatment for the underlying brain condition that causes dyslexia and for suffers it remains a lifelong problem. Therapy for dyslexia relies on specific educational methods and techniques which help a person overcome the problem. The sooner that intervention begins for children with dyslexia the better the outcomes and psychological testing is used to identify potential sufferers.
Teachers use techniques to help dyslexia sufferers to improve their reading skills that involve hearing, touch and vision: this allows the child to use all their senses when learning – for example, they might trace the shape of letters while hearing a word spoken to help them process the meaning of the word. This type of treatment helps the child to:
• Learn to recognize the sound elements (phonemes) that make up a word
• Understand how letters and strings of letters represent sounds and then words (phonics)
• Understand what they are reading
• Build accuracy and expression by reading aloud to help their fluency
• Build a vocabulary of words that they recognize and understand
The success of therapy for dyslexia depends on early intervention and children who get help in kindergarten or early schooling will often improve their reading skills sufficiently to be able to succeed in grade school and high school. Children that don’t get help until grade school or later have more difficulty learning the skills they require to overcome dyslexia and may begin to lag academically and, in the worst case, never catch up with their peers. While children with severe dyslexia will never read as easily as those that do not have the condition, they can learn skills that will help them improve their reading and comprehension and develop strategies that will improve their performance in education and in the quality of their lives overall.