In our previous blog, we looked at eight misconceptions people have about dyslexia. Today we shall focus on defining and understanding what exactly is Dyslexia.
Take a moment to read the following.
How was that? Frustrating? Slow? What were those sentences about? This is a simulation of the “experience of dyslexia” designed by Swedish web developer Victor Widell, to make you decode each word. The stimulation aims to give you an idea of what it might feel like when one has to experience such laborious pace every time they read, write or comprehend information.
The most common misconception people have is that dyslexics see things backward, like seeing “b” as “d” and vice versa or they might think people with dyslexia see “saw” as “was.” The truth is people with dyslexia see things the same way as everyone else; their brains are just wired to handle information differently. Dyslexia is caused by a phonological processing problem and has no relation to intelligence. In short, people affected by it have trouble not with understanding language but with manipulating it. Dyslexics simply have a harder time processing the individual sounds that make up spoken words and they have more challenging time mapping the sound (phoneme) to the written letter (grapheme).
This not only impacts mapping correctly and identifying the phoneme to the grapheme, but also the storage and retrieval of language based information. Everyone experiences moments of “it’s on the tip of my tongue,” but a dyslexic individual experience this with significantly more frequency. This has a significant impact on the fluency of reading and why a dyslexic person requires more time: the processing of language is inefficient and can be mentally draining. Furthermore struggling in performing daily actions or failing to cope up with their peer’s can affect one’s self-esteem, the stress of dealing with schoolwork can make kids with dyslexia lose the motivation to keep trying and hinder social and emotional development.
Such challenges are more widespread than commonly imagined. Dyslexia affects up to one in ten people and can vary from mild to severe, with every individual’s experience differing from another. One person might have mild dyslexia while the next person might be affected profoundly because of it. Dyslexia also runs in families. It is common to see one family member who has trouble with spelling, while another family member has severe difficulty decoding even one syllable words. It is important to recognize that dyslexia is not just an individual problem, but it also affects the people around them -Having a child with a learning problem impacts the entire family. Parent, brothers, sisters, as well as teachers, become involved as they must adjust their attitude and help.
The actual effects of dyslexia go well beyond having difficulty with words or spelling as it permeates many important actions of the daily life which can be very frustrating. Please be assured that there should be no shame in being dyslexic. Studies show that individuals with dyslexia process information in a different area of the brain than do non-dyslexics and has nothing to do with intelligence.
Below are two online assessment tests you can take if you are concerned that you, a member of your family or a student you are working with might be dyslexic.
- This is a link to a short online assessment test by International Dyslexia Association. If you check more than seven, then you should consider seeking consultation from a specialist or a formal diagnostic assessment from a qualified examiner.
- This is a more detailed and a more comprehensive screening evaluation by Davis Dyslexia Association International. The survey has 5 pages with 41 questions in all that will give you a profile of learning strengths and weaknesses, including a measure of severity of symptoms.
If you are interested in finding out more about dyslexia, watch out for this space for more information and join us in our journey of Relearning Dyslexia as we aim to raise awareness for all those who have been struggling with this invisible learning difference.