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Growing, developing and learning are the facts of life for all children. Each day children are faced with many new concepts and various challenges. Can you imagine how it feels for a child to face not only new challenges life has, but to face these challenges while living with a learning disability? These challenges are met not just when they begin school either. Students suffer from learning disabilities from the moment they begin learning, not when they start school. Learning disabilities are real and they affect millions of people. 'One such disability that affects over approximately 15 percent of the total American population is dyslexia' ( Nosek 5).

We will discuss the following issues and areas surrounding dyslexia:

_ What is dyslexia?

_ Causes of dyslexia.

_ Two different terms to describe dyslexia.

_ Characteristics of someone with dyslexia.

_ The learning process.

_ Three areas that are affected by the disability.

_ Focusing and behavior.

_ Misconceptions about dyslexia.

_ Seeking help through organizations.

What exactly is dyslexia? 'The word dyslexia is derived from the Greek 'dys' meaning poor or inadequate and 'lexis' meaning language. Dyslexia is a learning disability characterized by problems in expressive or receptive, oral or written language'(Wilkins URL). Simply put, dyslexia means trouble with reading, writing, and spelling. Dyslexia is not stupidity, laziness, lack of interest, or anything to be ashamed of. Dyslexia is not a disease; it has no cure and it will not go away. It knows no age, gender, or class boundaries. 'There is a significant disproportion between the sexes, however. The proportions of male to female dyslexics are 3 to 1. Dyslexia can also be compared to amnesia because it is selective' (Bakker 23). Some experts use the term specific learning disability instead of dyslexia'

Despite much research, nobody knows what causes dyslexia. Current research is focused on such possible causes as genetics, physiology, biochemistry, and structural changes in the brain. 'There are theories that something is wrong with the brain or that certain chemicals are missing. One of the most popular theory is that dyslexia is a structural defect in the brain which involves the central nervous system' (Irlen 98). Numerous studies have been done throughout the years. 'In 1907, the idea was first expressed that the genetic factor was undeniably a reason' (Bakker 27). Research to find causation is still being probed.

There are two terms to describe dyslexia, 'dysphonetic' and 'dyseidetic'. 'Dysphonetic means having difficulty connecting sounds to symbols; it also means they might have a hard time sounding out words. Dyseidetic means to have a good grasp of phonetic concepts, but great difficulty with whole word recognition and spelling still exists' (Wilkins URL). Typical mistakes would be reversals such as the word 'at' spelled 'ta' and mistakes in phonetic spelling of a word like 'phone' spelled 'fon'.

The characteristics of a dyslexic person can be very different from one person to the other, just as the characteristics of students without disabilities are different. These students show a different combination of learning problems. 'Such characteristics are learning style, motor dexterity, time/math, memory/cognition, language/reading skills, behavior and vision. Sometimes the dyslexic youngster has early or late developmental stages, such as crawling, walking or talking' (Grolier's).

Once these children begin school they might appear bright and highly intelligent, but unable to keep up with their peers in reading and writing. They test well orally, but when given a written test on the same subject they can fail miserably. Others might seem dumb or lazy, when in fact their efforts just go unnoticed. These students can feel dumb, which results in a low self-esteem; they try to hide these features with compensations. Some compensations might be that they excel in other areas like art, music, drama, story-telling, designing, engineering, or in sports.

To better understand some of the problems that dyslexic people face in learning to read and write, one needs to look at the four basic steps in the learning process. The four steps include: input, integration, memory, and output.

Input- This involves what information goes into a person from the five senses. These sensory organs send the information to the brain.

Integration- The brain sorts through all the information, puts it in the right order, organizes it, and gets meaning from the message.

Memory- The brain stores the information so it can be used when needed. Memory plays a very important part in what students have to learn in school. The memory and cognition for the dyslexic person can be outstanding. They have excellent long-term memory for things such as movies, experiences, locations and faces.

Output- This is where we use the information to answer questions. This output can be either verbal or motor.

'In any of these four steps, the dyslexic person can experience a great deal of difficulty. Even when the sensory organ receives the message correctly, the message can get garbled in the input and integration stages of learning. Not all dyslexics have problems in the same areas. Trying to identify the exact source of the problem can be difficult sometimes' (Savage 54).

As mentioned earlier, the three areas of learning in which dyslexic's struggle with are reading, spelling/writing and math.

When a dyslexic person reads he/she may experience dizziness, headaches and/or stomach aches. Reading for pleasure is out of the question. 'They may get confused by individual letters and numbers, whole words and especially by sequential information. What is mainly know is that while reading, the person shows repetition, transpositions, additions, omissions, substitutions, and reversal in letters and words' (Wilkins URL). When reading in a small group in the first grade, they rely on other readers to say the words first, then they copy. As they get older they can read well orally, but then cannot recall what was read.

'To an individual with dyslexia, a sentence might look like this:

I w a n t y o u t o s e e h o I t I s f o r s o m o n e t o r e a d t h e p a g e .

Perceptual distortions can include only a slight movement of words, so reading the page is possible although irritating and tiring' (Irlen 100). Words can jump, swirl around, switch and jump of the page almost instantly. Having to read like this all the time, most likely would turn a person off from wanting to read at all.

There are special programs that are aimed to enhance reading. One specific program is called the Orton-Gillingham method. 'The Orton-Gillingham method is sometimes called the VAKT technique. This acronym stands for Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic, and Tactual experience' (Savage 67). This method is an inventive way to help these students read. It is a multi-sensory approach that involves movement and touch; it is a slow, step-by-step process that covers all areas for the reader.

The vision problems that might occur while reading or writing include, seeing movement on paper and on a chalkboard, and having difficulty copying, especially from a distance. Dyslexics might have problems with their vision that a standard eye test will not detect. Some persons are keen-sighted and observant while lacking depth perception and peripheral vision.

There are a few motor dexterity problems that can affect the handwriting. It may be illegible or the style of it may not stay consistent; they can be ambidextrous. One might have trouble with writing in general or copying something off of the board. 'All dyslexics confuse their left and right while ...

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Keywords: dyslexia test, dyslexia symptoms, dyslexia centras, dyslexia font, dyslexia types, dyslexia lietuviskai, dyslexia quiz, dyslexia test for adults

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