According to the International Dyslexia Association (IDA), 15-20 percent of the population may have symptoms of dyslexia, including slow or inaccurate reading, weak spelling and poor writing. It is a neurological condition caused by a different wiring of the brain.
Although children with dyslexia have a learning disability, they are not any less or more intelligent than the general population. In fact, some well-known people, including Thomas Edison, Stephen Spielberg and F. Scott Fitzgerald were among those with dyslexia, according to the International Dyslexia Association.
Research finds that dyslexia can be hereditary. It appears to be linked to certain genes that affect how the brain processes reading and language, as well as risk factors in the environment, according to the Mayo Clinic.
In addition to family history, other risk factors include premature birth or low birth weight; exposure during pregnancy to nicotine, drugs, alcohol or infection that might alter brain development in the fetus; and individual differences in the parts of the brain that enable reading.
Watching for symptoms
While it’s difficult to recognize in preschool children, there are some early clues to dyslexia. Signs that young children may be at risk for dyslexia include delays in talking; problems forming words correctly; issue with naming colors, numbers and letters; and challenges with nursery rhymes or rhyming games.
Once a child enters school, it may be easier to notice symptoms of dyslexia. Often a child’s teacher may be the first to see the indicators that a child has a learning disability. Symptoms of dyslexia include: reading level below the expected level for his or her age; processing or comprehension issues; difficulty finding the right word; problems with remembering sequences; challenges in sounding out written words; issues with spelling, and avoiding activities that involve reading.
Assessing for dyslexia
Fisher-Titus Medical Center’s Pediatric Therapy Department is offering Dyslexia assessments for individuals (at least six years of age and English speaking) suspected of having dyslexia or another language-based learning disability.
The comprehensive diagnostic testing is completed by a certified speech-language pathologist and assesses reading, writing, spelling, comprehension, memory and more.
Physician referrals can be written for a “dyslexia assessment.” Physicians and patients can call the Fisher-Titus Rehabilitation Department for more information or to schedule an appointment at 419-660-2700. Currently, appointments are being scheduled for June.
While dyslexia is a life-long condition, once diagnosed the proper learning techniques and interventions can be used to help a child learn to succeed in life.
Kaitlynn Wooten, M.S., CCC-SLP is a speech-language pathologist in the rehabilitation department at Fisher-Titus Medical Center.