Developmental reading disorder (DRD) is more commonly referred to as dyslexia. It is defined as a disorder manifested by learning to read despite conventional schooling and normal intelligence. This occurs when the brain does not recognize and process certain symbols properly. Dyslexia may affect about 5-10 per cent of population, but it is often under-diagnosed and under-treated.
Dyslexia is most commonly noticed in very young children around the ages of four to seven years. This is the time when children are learning to read. Dyslexia children have a lot of difficulty in reading words or sentences. This is because they have trouble rhyming and separating sounds that make up spoken words. These abilities appear to be critical in the process of learning to read.
A child’s initial reading skill are based on word recognition, which involves being able to separate out the sounds in words and match them with letters and groups of letters. Difficulty in recognizing words may lead to difficulty in reading and understanding sentences. One has to ensure that the child has normal vision and hearing powers, before contemplating a diagnosis of Dyslexia.
True Dyslexia is much broader than simply confusing or transposing letters, for example mistaking ‘b’ and‘d’ (also called mirror writing).
• Difficulty determining the meaning of a simple sentence
• Difficulty learning to recognize written words
• Difficulty rhyming
DRD may occur in combination with writing (developmental writing disorder or math learning (developmental arithmetic disorder) problems. Some children may have easy distractibility due to co-existing attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD, which can occur in about 40 per cent of Dyslexic children).
• The exact cause of Dyslexia remains unknown till date and research in that area is ongoing.
Management: There is no cure for Dyslexia; so, all treatment is aimed at reducing learning disability.
• Early intervention (at an early age is important, as the chances of treatment success are higher, since the language areas in the brain are still developing.
• Dyslexic children can learn to read and write with educational support. They require extra attention in the class, or maybe a separate class can be arranged for them.
• There is also evidence to support the use of a special font in promoting learning to read in Dyslexics.
• It is also important to reduce or totally remove stress and anxiety in children with Dyslexia. Many of these children are bullied by their peers and this should be recognized and prevented. Psychological support, if needed, should be provided.
It is important to note that children with Dyslexia have normal intelligence and in many cases have above-normal intelligence. Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Walt Disney, Winston Churchill and Leonardo da Vinci – all were Dyslexic.