As a public health nurse and language teacher, I occasionally work with students with dyslexia. Dyslexia is a condition that affects the way the brain processes the written and spoken language. In the U.S., ten to fifteen percent of the school population has dyslexia but only a few cases are detected and receive assistance.
What are the symptoms?
A complete assessment by a health professional is necessary before diagnosing dyslexia. Some children may exhibit one or many symptoms. Here are some common symptoms:
- Is slow to learn sounds and connecting sounds to letters or letter combinations.
- Has difficulty grouping words that begin with the same sound.
- Has trouble recognizing printed letters or words.
- Has difficulty learning to decode unknown words.
- Confuses word order (writes team instead of meat)
- Finds it difficult to think of a word and to proceed to writing it accurately.
- Doesn’t read at expected grade or level.
- Has difficulties learning a foreign language.
- Has difficulties summarizing a story.
How can dyslexia affect health?
If left undetected, dyslexia can have devastating effects on a child’s psychosocial development. It can negatively affect a child’s self-image and generate feelings of inferiority. A dyslexic child may have difficulties making friends, and integrating into schoollife can be a struggle. It can cause tremendous anxiety and anger that can lead to depression. It can also have a serious impact on the child’s family.
The sooner a diagnosis is made, the quicker the child can adapt and move on with confidence. Psychologists can diagnose dyslexia in second or third grade, though some professionals with extensive training can identify the warning signs as early as age five. Dyslexia often runs in families, so it’s important for the psychologist to know if other family members have learning or reading problems.
Can people with dyslexia have successful lives?
Children with dyslexia do not outgrow the condition. However, with the right kind of learning support, interventions and strategies, the children can adapt, read well and understand complex ideas. Early diagnosis and support are key to catching up, though it’s never too late to get help.
People with dyslexia can be very creative and dynamic. They often excel at seeing the big picture and out-of-the-box problem solving. Many adults with dyslexia move on to have successful careers. Director Steven Spielberg, chef Jamie Oliver, physicist Albert Einstein, actress Whoopi Goldberg and scientist Pierre Curie are among a long list of famous people with dyslexia.
Making life easier for people with dyslexia
Christian Boer is a Dutch graphic designer who has created a font that makes reading easier for people, like him, with dyslexia. The typeface is called “Dyslexie” and you can download it for free. The characters in “Dyslexie” make it easier for people with dyslexia to recognize or decode words. I plan on using it in some of my classes.
Below is a short video on the typeface. Please feel free to share it with those who may benefit from it.
For more information on making life easier for people with dyslexia, please read here.