How Does Dyslexia Affect Learning?

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The right time to ask how does dyslexia affect learning is when you begin to see the early signs of it like with forming words when struggling with school-like tasks and of course once a struggle shows up in school.  Dyslexia is a learning disability that is hampering a child’s progress, robbing them of their will to learn, and creating significant frustration while their self-esteem is taking a big hit. Does it affect learning? Absolutely!

Dyslexia is not reading letters in reverse…that is a myth.

It is a brain dysfunction that hinders what should be automatic, retrieving and combining sounds which should become words. We all agree that the foundation for reading is the spoken language. For a person struggling with dyslexia, there are sounds that just are not clear and crisp.  The brain region that processes automatic reading such that you see letters and then know the word, just isn’t correctly clicking on the received information.  What is automatic for a normally functioning brain instead becomes a deciphering process requiring greater time and energy when dyslexia is involved.  Dyslexic children and adults alike are not dumb.  They are just processing through different ‘brain’ channels that take a bit more time, that’s all.

Generally it is understood that children diagnosed with dyslexia do not grow out of it.  This is a life-long condition.  The earlier it is discovered the earlier the educational environment and teaching methods can be established to help. If dyslexia is discovered, at least by the third grade, then catching up is possible. And because we all know how important reading is to success in school and success in life, we will do our children a disservice if we don’t advocate for them when they are behind other kids when it comes to reading.

So here are some questions you may be wondering about:

  • Does dyslexia affect intelligence?
  • Is dyslexia an eyesight problem?
  • Can dyslexia be overcome?
  • Can my child just catch up on their own?

What your child is confronted with has nothing to do with them figuring out difficult concepts. That is not the problem. The problem lies in how the dyslexic- brain recognizes word sounds from the visual to what it should sound like. It is, therefore, a language-based disability that affects understanding the written word. Language is a key factor in understanding this condition.

Brain Studies Are Food for Thought

New science is emerging as dyslexia and other brain challenges are studied. For instance in this article authored by Martha Burns, Ph. D., titled “Language-Based Learning Disabilities and Auditory Processing Disorders” she makes this point, “Significantly, in children with language-based learning disabilities (including dyslexia) and children with aspects of language learning disabilities—poor auditory working memory and rapid naming—language and reading problems appear to be related to specific differences in brain oscillation patterns in the areas of the brain important for learning language.”

Bill Spooner's Dyslexia Mindmap

Bill Spooner’s Dyslexia Mindmap

And in a recent study conducted at Northwestern University the mapping of the brain as related to speech and language has surfaced differences in what was previously understood.   In the summary of this study, published June 25, 2015, and authored by Marla Paul what has surfaced is that language does not originate in just the Wernicke’s region of the brain.  She states “The new research shows word comprehension is actually located in a different brain neighborhood — the left anterior temporal lobe, a more forward location than Wernicke’s.  And sentence comprehension turns out to be distributed widely throughout the language network, not in a single area as previously thought.” (Read more here: http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2015/06/redrawing-language-map-of-the-brain.html#sthash.E3P6H5zs.dpuf)

Why is this significant? I read some time ago that medical science discoveries can take 17 years to go from discovery to implementation into the health needs of patients.  Time will tell, but one salient point is that having a good understanding of brain function will facilitate better treatments and will improve teaching strategies and educational supports.

What’s a Good Parent to Do?

Peace and Balance Can Be Upset Until Solutons Are Found for Dyslexia

Peace and Balance Can Be Upset Until Solutions Are Found for Dyslexia

Work closely with your child’s teachers.  Then…help your child to develop the following skills (adapted from NCIB site) as these will establish greater ability for accessing the written word by reading and accomplishing writing assignments:

  • Develop the ability to “sound out” words by helping to learn each alphabet letter and its sound. SKILL: Connecting letters to sounds (phonics)
  • Develop the process of making sense out of a sentence by “decoding” through the process of sounding out words. SKILL: Decoding text
  • Develop “word recognition” by establishing words that are known at a glance, “sight” words. Of course, this will help them read faster.  A dyslexic learner may need to see a familiar word up to 40 times before it becomes one they don’t have to sound out.  SKILL: Establish “sight” words.
  • Accomplish the ability to read with fluency as it is critically necessary to reading comprehension. A fluent reader can sound out unfamiliar words and recognizes most words by sight. SKILL: Read fluently.
  • Develop the ability to recall specific details and summarize what has just been read. A dyslexic reader will falter at sounding out individual words so of course this makes understanding and relating the material to what is already known harder to accomplish. SKILL: Establish comprehension of text.

Okay, I get it, this is going to take time, isn’t it!  And I KNOW time is one of our most precious commodities!  But I think you can see how important locking in these skills are going to be and it isn’t going to happen just in the school environment.  Re-enforcing these skills at home when reading and doing homework with them will significantly improve them.  So, yes, let’s do the hard work with them now so their lives can be less frustrating later and as they traverse their adult lives.

We understand now that this isn’t about a child’s eyesight, or being lazy, or that there is a lack of intelligence.  No, indeed not!

Dyslexia is a brain disorder that affects how this student or young adult’s brain processes the written or spoken language.  It affects more than reading!  It usually also affects abilities for writing composition, spelling, and speech.  It is a brain disorder that most certainly can be overcome but not on their own.  Educational supports and teaching strategies are critical to helping them gain access to their abilities.  A parent should know that dyslexia is considered to be a learning disability.  And any learning disability is going to make learning in school and homework tough.  There are resources, allot of them, to help you and your children.

Steve Jobs a famously successful person was also dyslexic!

Steve Jobs a famously successful person was also dyslexic!

We’ve only scratched the surface here.  I plan to review some of the resources that you can access that will assist you in caring and advocating for your special person!

If you have any questions Contact Me Here!  or leave me a comment below.

Drop Us a Comment! Or Share Your Story. We Will All Benefit From Your Generosity.

Drop Us a Comment! Or Share Your Story. We Will All Benefit From Your Generosity.