Identifying Dyslexia

Dyslexia is a cognitive deficiency in phonological awareness and word identification which is required for successful reading.  
Phonological awareness refers to understanding that the letters of the alphabet correspond to certain sounds and, combined in
certain patterns, form meaningful words. Due to this deficit, those with dyslexia cannot keep up with the information that is
flowing from their eyes to the brain and words and sentences quickly get mixed up making no sense to the reader.  This
neurological disorder arises from a weakness in the processing of language-based information; which causes the brain to
process and interpret data differently. Dyslexia is a biological condition which affects a wide range of people, producing
different symptoms and varying degrees of severity. It occurs despite normal or high intelligence, dyslexia breaks down the
relationship between reading and intelligence.

Individuals with dyslexia have a lower than expected reading capacity where letters are scrambled, words are blurred making
reading difficult, if not impossible. Studies have also shown that people with dyslexia have a deficit in neural functioning.

Common difficulties include:

• Learning to read, write and spell

• Short-term memory impairment

• Mathematics

• Concentration

• Organization thoughts

• Sequencing

Dyslexia is not the result of poor motivation, emotional disturbance, sensory impairment or lack of opportunities, but it may
occur alongside any of these. Dyslexia can also make it difficult for people to express themselves clearly. It can be challenging
for them to use vocabulary and to structure their thoughts during conversation. Others struggle to understand when people
speak to them, not because they can’t hear, but because of their difficulty processing verbal information. The primary
contributing factor to dyslexia is an auditory language deficit. This is particularly true with abstract thoughts and non-literal
language, such as hypothetical expressions, jokes and phrases.

Early Signs of Dyslexia

A child will become aware of movement, sound, taste, smell and sight, and connect these senses with memory and
comprehension. It is combining these senses and developing an awareness of the world that will allow the child to learn and
eventually to read and write.

Some dyslexic children have behavior problems; these usually improve when the right kind of teaching for reading, writing,
spelling and math is provided. A full assessment of children before the age of seven is difficult, except in obvious cases, or
where there are similar problems in other members of the family.

Some traits you may observe at an early age are:

• Bright in some ways with a block in others.

• Unable to remember two or more instructions in sequence.

• Uncertain of left or right.

• Difficulty in dressing. (Ex. Clothes, handling laces and buttons).

• Confusing names of objects.

• Finding it difficult to remember nursery rhymes.

• Learning the alphabet, numbers, days of the week-basic sequential information.

• Late in talking or speaking clearly.


People with dyslexia are unique; each having individuals strengths and weaknesses. Many are creative and have unusual talent
in areas such as art, athletics, architecture, graphics, electronics, mechanics, drama, music, or engineering. Those with
dyslexia often show special talent in areas that require visual, spatial, and motor integration.


The diagnosis of dyslexia usually begins with awareness by parents or teachers that a problem in reading exists. A physician is
often the first to explore the nature of difficulty. The medical practitioner should investigate the cause of the reading problem
by conducting a complete physical examination and obtaining a comprehensive health history. If indicated, the child should be
referred for a neurological examination. If dyslexia is suspected, the physician should refer the child for further evaluation and
treatment by a specialist in the special education field. The major purpose of the diagnostic process is to isolate the specific
difficulties associated with dyslexia and to suggest appropriate educational intervention. Usually the specialist will conduct a
number of assessments that explore the relationship of specific reading problems to the intellectual, achievement, perceptual,
motor, linguistic, and adaptive capabilities of the individual. Based on the results, an intervention plan can be implemented by a
special educator or remedial reading teacher trained in specialized reading techniques.


Treatment for dyslexia centers on highly structured, explicit lessons that teach children how letters sound and words work
together.  Once the child understands that words are composed of sounds, they will start to learn basic phonic rules and
applications. If a dyslexic child is unable to use these lessons to decode single words, they will have difficulty in reading
comprehension and written expression.

Recognizing dyslexia early in life is a key factor in how much the learning disability will affect a person’s development. With
help from a tutor, teacher, speech therapist and other professionals, almost all people with dyslexia can become good readers
and writers.

Incorporating the following strategies into the learning process can help overcome the difficulties of dyslexia:

• Early exposure to oral reading, writing, and drawing.
• Knowledge of basic letter formation, recognition skills and linguistic awareness (relationship between sound and meaning).

• Practice reading different texts types (e.g., books or magazines).

• Multi-sensory, structured language instruction and practice using sight sound and touch when introducing new ideas.

• Modifying classroom procedures to allow for extra time to complete assignments, help with note-taking, oral testing and/or
other means of assessment.

• Using books-on-tapes and assisting technology such as screen readers and voice recognition computer-software.

Teaching Methods

Reading and writing are fundamental skills for daily living. Like all people, those with dyslexia enjoy activities that tap into their
strengths and interest.

The child will need an appropriate amount of special teaching to overcome dyslexia depending on how severely it has affected
their learning. Students need a structured multi-sensory method for teaching different ways of learning. This means using as
many senses as possible at a time to make learning easier. Some examples are looking, listening, saying and doing, in this way
strong channels of learning are used and weaker but essential ones are built up. A new sound is listened to and then spoken;
the letters representing a word are looked at and written down.

Phonological training is teaching reading ability by grouping words according to their sounds.
The treatment of phonological teaching has a positive influence on early reading skills and developmental spelling. It teaches
children recognition of letter names and letter sounds in speech. It is believed children who understand that words can be
segmented into sounds tend to be better readers than those children with poor phonological awareness skills. Early
identification of students with poor phonological awareness will help in the prevention of reading problems.
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