A simple definition of dyslexia is: a problem in learning to read presented by children whose IQ is normal and in whom there are no other physical or psychological problems that could explain these difficulties.
The term dyslexia is used to designate a set of causes, which manifest as difficulty distinguishing and memorizing letters or groups of letters, lack of order and rhythm in placement, poor sentence structure, etc. and that becomes evident both in reading and writing. It is important to detect dyslexia problems in order to contribute to their solution and not increase the problems that these children have in this crucial area of learning in our education system. In practice, it is reflected as an inconvenience that hinders and complicates the learning process, since it is characterized by influencing the ability to read, write (dysgraphia), perform calculations (dyscalculia) and short-term memory.
First, diagnose dyslexia.What is fundamental is the difficulty in learning to read and write correctly in the absence of intellectual or other problems that give an alternative explanation to the problem presented. So, you have to rule out:
- Vision and/or hearing defects
- An IQ below normal
- The existence of a primary emotional disturbance.
- That the problem is due to mere lack of instruction.
- That there are serious health problems that mediate learning.
- That there are no diagnosable brain lesions that may affect the language area.
Something that can guide the diagnosis, in addition to reading-writing difficulties, is the existence of similar difficulties in the family , however, there is a not insignificant percentage of cases in which there does not seem to be a clear family history of dyslexia or another learning difficulty. Phonological difficulties (correct repetition of certain words) and pronunciation difficulties, if there is no clear dyslalia, can lead to dyslexia. Dyslexia is congenital and that means that you are born with it and it is for life. It is not cured since it is not a disease.
What causes dyslexia?
Dyslexia is the effect of multiple causes, which can be grouped between two poles. On the one hand, the neurophysiological factors, due to a slower maturation of the nervous system, and on the other, the psychic conflicts, caused by the pressures and tensions of the environment in which the child develops. These disorders are:
- Poor lateralization : Laterality is the process by which the child develops the preference or dominance of one side of his body over the other. We refer to the hands and feet. If the predominance is on the right side, it is a right-handed subject; if it is on the left side, it is called left-handed; and if lateral dominance has not been achieved on some of the sides, it is called ambidextrous. In general, laterality is not established before the age of 5 or 6 years, although some children already show a lateral predominance from a very young age. Children who present some alteration in the evolution of their laterality, usually have associated organizational disorders in the vision of space and language that come to constitute the axis of the dyslexic problem. The greatest number of dyslexic cases occurs in children who do not have a definite lateral predominance. Laterality influences motor skills, in such a way that a child with ill-defined laterality is usually clumsy when doing manual work and his graphic strokes are often uncoordinated.
Psychomotor disorders: It is very common for dyslexic children, with or without laterality problems, to present some alteration in their psychomotor skills (relationship between motor and psychological functions). It is about psychomotor immaturity, that is, general clumsiness of movements. In dyslexic children, these anomalies do not occur in isolation, but rather accompany the rest of the specific disorders, such as:
- Lack of rhythm: Which is evident both in the performance of movements and in language, with poorly placed pauses, which will become evident in reading and writing.
- Lack of balance: They usually have difficulties maintaining static and dynamic balance. For example, they have trouble staying on one foot, jumping, riding a bike, walking in a line, etc.
Deficient knowledge of the body schema. Closely linked to the determination of laterality and psychomotricity is the knowledge of the body schema and especially the right-left distinction, referring to the body itself. Thus, the right-handed child (usually writes, eats, etc. with the right hand) and the left-handed (writes, eats...with the left) have their right and left hands, respectively, as fundamental points of reference on which to base their Spatial Orientation. Poorly lateralized children, having a deficient body image, lack the precise points of reference for their correct orientation. The body places the subject in space and it is from the body that all the reference points are established through which all activity is organized.
- Perceptual disorders: All spatial perception is based on the fundamental structure of knowledge of the body. The objects are placed taking into account that the position of space is relative, a street does not really have a right or a left, depending on the position where the person is located. Also the concept you have of top-bottom, front-back, referring to yourself, will project it into your knowledge of spatial relationships in general. In the same way, in reading and writing, the child has to base himself on his coordinates up-down, right-left, front-back; and capture them on the sheet of paper and in the direction and shape of each sign represented. The child who does not distinguish between top and bottom will have difficulties in differentiating the letters.
Characteristics of the dyslexic child.The manifestations of dyslexia are very varied and will depend on the intensity of the disorder and the age of the child. The following are frequent:
- The lack of attention. Due to the intellectual effort they have to make to overcome their specific perceptual difficulties, they usually present a high degree of fatigability. For this reason, learning to read and write is arid, uninteresting, finding no attraction in them that demands attention.
- The lack of interest in the study. The lack of attention, together with an unstimulating family and school environment, make them lose interest in school tasks. Thus, their school performance and grades are low.
- Personal maladjustment. The dyslexic child, by not orienting himself well in space and time, finds himself without points of reference or support, consequently presenting insecurity and lack of stability in his reactions. As a compensation mechanism, he has excessive self-confidence and even vanity, which leads him to defend his opinions at all costs.
Dyslexia manifests itself in a more concrete way in the school environment , in the basic subjects of reading and writing. Depending on the age of the child, dyslexia presents certain characteristics that can be grouped into three levels of evolution. So that although the dyslexic child overcomes the difficulties of one level, he finds himself with those of the next. In this way, reeducation will make them appear more and more attenuated or even disappear with rehabilitation. Next we carry out an analysis by age ranges.
The recovery of the dyslexic child
Dyslexia does not manifest itself in the same way or with the same intensity in each child. Therefore, the recovery will be determined by the characteristics of each child and by the family and school environment to which they belong. Early detection is the key to recovery, before the child experiences failure.
Diagnosis and prevention should begin as soon as possible, from the moment the first abnormalities are observed. In this way, many problems of school and personal maladjustment are avoided. Although the intervention is carried out early, the alterations are not completely eliminated, but in most cases it is necessary to overcome the difficulties that arise, so it is advisable to continue with a maintenance treatment.
It is highly recommended to "learn reading and writing again", but adapting the pace to the child's possibilities, always working with the guiding principle of learning without errors, promoting success from the beginning and at each step of the work of "over-learning". It is about doing the correct relearning of reading-writing techniques, making them pleasant and useful for the child, promoting success, instead of the failure that he is used to reaping.
The importance of the method in reading and writing.
“We were not born to read. It's a miracle that humans can do it," writes Maryanne Wolf, a professor of child development at Tufts University. And it is that, despite the fact that reading has revolutionized the culture of our species, the ability of our brain to learn to read does not come as standard, it is not a product of natural selection. What our brain does to learn to read, a completely unnatural activity, is to establish new connections between structures and circuits originally dedicated to other, more basic brain processes, such as vision and speech. But what Maryanne Wolf is trying to show is that we don't read because we change our troglodyte brain, but rather, by reading, the brain continues to change, both psychologically and intellectually. Written language arose as a consequence of the great plasticity of the brain. The ability to establish neural networks, circuits that connect brain areas located at a distance, is what facilitated the emergence of reading and writing. Dyslexia is not a disease, it is not a disorder or a disability in itself. We propose that people who suffer from a literacy problem is because they have not acquired that skill prior to completing the process and obviously they should not "re-educate", they should "teach" that skill. According to these definitions, dyslexia and dysgraphia are not considered a cognitive disability, but a "learning difference": the subject learns to read and write, although adapted and correctly planned pedagogical procedures must be applied.
The cursive font facilitates the process of teaching reading and writing.
Children who use cursive write their ideas more fluently and the perception of words is favored by the continuity of the line. For graphologists, italics describe personality traits of individuals. The use of italics in dyslexia and dysgraphia treatments is recommended because it facilitates the neurological processes that "support learning". “We know that in cursive writing the individual's personality is somehow present. Hence the importance of graphological studies in the different disciplines that have to do with human nature", cursive handwriting "is a succession of ascending and descending features, where the greater or lesser ease of the stroke makes the letter more rounded or inclined and therefore leaves a personal style imprinted, which the child strengthens with his growth and practice”. The student who uses cursive letters, say the pedagogues, writes his ideas fluently and sees the perception of words favored by continuity, while the printed letters, being separated, interrupt the sequence of thought. Many Special Education teachers, for dyslexia and dysgraphia treatments, recommend the use of italics because it facilitates the neurological processes that "support the learning of literacy." Regarding its difficulty, writing "is a psychomotor skill" and as such it needs training and requires practice.
Comprehensive recovery plan for the dyslexic child.
The school-age recovery plan is focused on the language area and on perceptive and manual immaturity. The activities cover the following aspects:
- Mental activity exercises: attention and memory, organizing and ordering elements, observing and distinguishing some objects from others. Example of them: Diverpul
- Perceptual and logic exercises : recognize and group objects according to color, size and shape. Ex: logic blocks
- Gross motor skills exercises in general: for acquiring knowledge of your own body. Ex: Psychomotor team
- Exercises to get to know your own body: point to parts of the body, say them by name, etc.
- Static balance exercises: standing on one foot, standing on tiptoes, etc.
- Dynamic balance exercises: jumping on two feet, jumping on one foot, etc.
- Spatial exercises (bottom-up, front-back, etc.)
Fine and manual psychomotor exercises: chopped, threaded, sewn, cut, activities with the hands and fingers. Exercises
Graphomotor exercises. We understand by graphomotor the graphic movement made by the hand when writing. The basis of graphomotor education is fine motor skills, so activities must be carried out previously to develop the dexterity of the hands and fingers, as well as hand-eye coordination. Exercises
Reading and pre-writing exercises are exercises that help to follow the movement and recognition of the letters, at this level the learning of vowels, consonants and numbers is exercised. Example of booklets
Language exercises: name and define objects, drawings, tell stories. Language Games