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From the sheet:
What is dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability. Dyslexia refers to a cluster of symptoms, which result in people having difficulties with specific language skills, particularly reading. Students with dyslexia usually experience difficulties with other language skills such as spelling, writing, and pronouncing words. Dyslexia affects individuals throughout their lives; however its impact can change at different stages in a person’s life. It is referred to as a learning disability because dyslexia can make it very difficult for a student to succeed academically in the typical instructional environment, and in its more severe forms, will qualify a student for special education, special accommodations, or extra support services.
For the entire fact sheet, visit http://www.interdys.org/ewebeditpro5/upload/DyslexiaBasicsREVMay2012.pdf
Additionally, the sheet informs us that the causes of dyslexia are not completely clear, but research indicates that the brain of a dyslexic person develops and functions differently from that of a normal reader. It also appears that dyslexic people may have difficulty identifying individual speech sounds within a word, and/or learning how letters represent those sounds. These variables have nothing to do with intelligence or desire to learn and can be addressed with appropriate teaching.
How prevalent is dyslexia? According to the fact sheet, about 13-14% of the nation’s students have a handicapping condition; one half of all students who qualify for special education (6-7 %) are classified as having a learning disability (LD). And 85 % of those students have a primary learning disability in reading and language processing. But bear in mind that many more people — perhaps as many as 15-20% of the population as a whole — have some of the symptoms of dyslexia.
The impact of dyslexia is different for each individual and can be more or less severe. Some individuals manage to learn early reading and spelling tasks, but may later experience debilitating problems when more complex language skills are required. People with dyslexia can also have problems with spoken language. Additionally, self-esteem issues can develop, adding stress and discouragement to the mix.
Treating dyslexia: IDA feels that there is no benefit to delaying intervention, as many schools are wont to do. Parents should know that at any point they have the right to request a comprehensive evaluation under the IDEA law, whether or not the student is currently receiving “teach-first-then see” RTI instruction. Comprehensive evaluation includes intellectual and academic achievement testing, as well as an assessment of critical underlying language skills (listening and expressive language skills, phonological awareness, and rapid naming skills).
Signs of dyslexia include difficulties in
- Learning to speak
- Learning letters and their sounds
- Organizing written and spoken language
- Memorizing number facts
- Reading quickly enough to comprehend
- Persisting with and comprehending longer reading assessments
- Learning a foreign language
- Correctly doing math operations
Note that not all students with these difficulties have dyslexia. Formal testing is the only way to confirm a diagnosis.
Treatment involves instruction from a teacher, tutor or therapist specially trained in a multisensory, structured language approach. Instruction should be systematic and explicit, involving several senses (seeing, hearing, touching) at the same time. For many dyslexic students, one-on-one instruction is most effective. Schools can offer accommodations such as extra time to complete tasks, help with note-taking, and modified work assignments. Books on tape, text-reading technologies and word-processing computer programs are useful.
A person with dyslexia has certain specific rights. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 2004 (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) define the rights of students with dyslexia. Students are legally entitled to special services to help them overcome and accommodate their learning problems.
IDA offers suggested readings:
(1) “Basic facts about dyslexia and other reading problems” by L.C. Moats and K. E. Dakin (2008), Baltimore, International Dyslexia Association. (2) “Overcoming dyslexia: A new and complete science-based program for reading problems at any level” by Sally Shaywitz, New York, Knopf.
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