By Dr Khushboo Shah Sawant

Dsylexia is a reality which often goes unnoticed, untreated and often leaves the affected person with a low self worth and sometimes even a faced by many failures. In today`s times, where success is often measured according to rank a child achieves in class, their grades and percentages and in the long run by the amount of wealth a person acquires in his lifetime. In such times, if often becomes immensely difficult for children who are not able to cope up with the rest of the crowd to hold their head high and even consider the possibility of success if not academic. And so today we shall cover the topic of dyslexia which is a fairly common disorder in children.

So we begin with the first basic question, what is dyslexia? Dyslexia is a learning disorder or a reading disability, which is mainly a difficulty in reading caused mainly due to problems in identifying speech and sound and how to relate them to letters and words. Dyslexia is a disorder in children who have normal intelligence and vision. They have no obvious physical abnormality and do not have any mental retardation. The cause of dyslexia is known to be inherited and is passed in family history. The main disorder is that it affects the working of the brain making identifying letters and words difficult and also the children are unable to figure out the relation between the letters and the words they form. However children with dyslexia are very much able to succeed in schooling and further with the help of specialized tutoring and specialised study programmes.

We move on to the next obvious question, how does one know if their children are dyslexic? A child does not get dyslexia, but is born with the brain disorder. The signs and symptoms may not be obvious at the beginning. Sometimes dyslexia may go undiagnosed and untreated and may be discovered in adulthood. And so it is very essential on the part of the parents to pay attention during the early years of their children, and be keen observers and watch out for any signs of abnormality in the child. The symptoms may be difficult to identify before the child enters school. However, it is important for parents to watch out in toddlers and pre school kids for simple signs like learning to talk very late, difficulty in learning new words, slow learning of nursery rhymes, and inability of playing simple games like throwing and catching a ball. After the child enters school, and after reading and write begin in their syllabus, the symptoms begin to become obvious and usually the teacher may be one of the first people to notice the disability. As the reading skills of the child are well below the expected level of children of that age, difficulty in hearing and following commands, unable to follow rapid instructions, problem in remembering simple things, not able to remember or follow a sequence of events, difficulty in seeing and hearing similarities and differences in letters and numbers eg. No. 9 and 6 , alphabets N,S, B etc also commonly observed is the child writing in mirror image form. Difficulty in pronouncing new or tough words etc. If such symptoms are unnoticed in childhood they often are discovered in adulthood where the symptoms remain more or less the same, but are more pronounced as they face inability to understand jokes, puns, are unable to manage time, have poor memory, difficulty in mathematical calculations etc.

It is always better if such symptoms are noticed at a younger age and prompt treatment is given so that maximum progress can be made in the child and that he is able to attain his full potential.

As so it is extremely important on the part of the parents to be observant right from the beginning. And if you notice any below average reading or learning skills which are persistent without any other obvious reason, then parents must not hesitate to bring it to the notice of doctors.

If left untreated this condition continues to remain causing many difficulties and complications in the child`s life. It makes learning very difficult, they are unable to keep up with their school mates, and this can lead to social problems like a low self esteem, behavioural problems, anxiety, and aggression. And children are often unable to deal with this and often try to mask their inability by lying, hiding or becoming withdrawn from their peers, teachers and family.

If symptoms are noticed, it should be brought to the notice of a doctor who will check for and rule out any visual, hearing or other brain problems before confirming the diagnosis.

Dyslexia is a lifelong condition with no cure. But if timely detection is done then treatment can be given to cope with the disability and learning to live with it. A child with dyslexia goes through a lot of emotional turbulence which is very difficult for them to cope with. And so the child requires plenty of emotion support and confidence. Dyslexia can be treated with special techniques which involve hearing, vision and touch to improve reading skills. The school teacher may be requested to help the child accordingly. Also special tuitions may prove to be beneficial.

As parents it is firstly very important to watch for timely signals and seek help well in time. Also provide the child tremendous emotional support to deal with their low self esteem. It is advisable for parents to be touch with the school teacher and keep up with the child`s progress. And parents must praise every little improvement the child makes, and encourage them to read more. Also parents must take time off and spend time with the child and sit an read with them, often reading out aloud, and create a comfortable environment at home for the child. As the child grows, parents must explain to the child what dyslexia is and that it is not the child`s failure but the condition that makes reading challenging for them.

With sufficient help and support the children can grow up and flourish as well as the many famous personalities like Albert Einstein, Alexander Graham Bell, and Thomas Edison who were also born with the gift of dyslexia.


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