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Understanding Dyslexia: Learning and Brain differences

 

black-boy-readingJohn hates being called to read aloud in his class, he usually has some trouble saying some words even when he recognizes them. School is not really his favourite place to be because all his teachers complain about his writing and spelling. His parents often compare him with his  siblings saying “he is just the lazy one”.  He often gets discouraged thinking he is not as smart as his siblings and other pupils in his class. John would rather work on his drawings and participate in other activities that deal less with writing or reading.

What John, his parents and teachers have not realized is that he has dyslexia.

 

In the previous article of this month’s series on understanding dyslexia, we shared some information about what dyslexia is and some prevailing myths and truths about dyslexia. In this second part, we will emphasize on the description of dyslexia, causes, prevalence, signs and symptoms which accounts for learning and brain differences in people with dyslexia.

DESCRIBING DYSLEXIA

Dyslexia can be described as a brain based learning difficulty which is often hereditary and results in problems with:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Spelling

Also, it is associated with difficulties in concentration, short term memory and organization which are essential skills to facilitate learning that has to do with language. This is why people with dyslexia can be wrongly labelled as being “lazy”, “stupid”, “dumb”, “less intelligent” or “mentally slow/retarded” . Eliminating these wrong notions about dyslexia creates a better understanding of what is really responsible for the perceived learning differences/difficulties experienced by people with dyslexia.

CAUSES OF DYSLEXIA

The major cause of the brain based learning difficulty especially with literacy skills experienced by people who never had any damage to the brain and having adequate intelligence is genetic. As noted earlier, it is a condition that is hereditary; research has shown that it runs in families therefore, a child has a 50% chance of having dyslexia if only one parent has it and a 100% chance if both parents have dyslexia.

People with dyslexia use only the right side of the brain to process language, while people without dyslexia use three areas on the left side of the brain to process language.maxresdefault

Dyslexia is not as a result of laziness, stupidity or poor intelligence, rather, the brains of people with dyslexia are wired differently which accounts for the language difficulties they experience.

 

PREVALENCE OF DYSLEXIA

  • Dyslexia is the most common learning difficulty.
  • It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia.
  • Dyslexia occurs around the world irrespective of tribe, race or socio-economic background.
  • It occurs in both boys and girls.
  • It can be seen in adults too.
  • It varies from person to person.

 

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF DYSLEXIA

The following are some signs and symptoms experienced by people that may have dyslexia.128563473

  1. Difficulties with reading, spelling and writing despite normal intelligence and proper teaching: consistent reading, spelling and writing errors such as putting letters or words in the wrong order for example; ‘was’ for ‘saw’ or sounding ‘dub’ for ‘bud’ or omitting letters when spelling, such as ‘shool’ for ‘school’ could be a sign of dyslexia.
  1. Delay in reaching developmental milestones: this occurs when children are unable to reach certain language and motor development at the expected age. It could be an early sign of dyslexia.
  1. Speech problems: such as sudden loss of speech and difficulty expressing self through spoken language are possible signs of dyslexia.
  1. Directionality difficulties: confusion with directions such as being uncertain about left or right, up/top or down/bottom directions. It is also responsible for letter reversals such as ‘b’ for ‘d’ (not corrected after a long time of correcting and proper teaching). It is also known as mirror writing and could be a sign of dyslexia.
  2. Pronunciation problems: such as being unable to pronounce long words properly.
  3. Difficulty carrying out a sequence of directions: being unable to follow a sequence of directions is a possible sign of dyslexia.

 

girl

Dyslexia should be seen as a different learning ability rather than a learning disability. People with dyslexia within any age range are capable of learning efficiently with a different approach that matches their learning ability.

Beyond all the difficulties experienced by people with dyslexia, are strengths unknown to many and themselves. Some of their strengths and more information about people with dyslexia will be shared in the next part of these series.

Remember to follow @DrMorayoJimoh for more interesting updates on understanding dyslexia throughout this month of November!

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Understanding Dyslexia: Myths and Truths

Are you a parent? A teacher? A school administrator? A special education needs coordinator or consultant? Are you just a lover of children? Do you know anyone who has a child with learning difficulties? Are you interested in enhancing children’s learning ability?

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If you answered yes to any of the questions above, then this month’s series on DYSLEXIA is for you. The theme is Understanding Dyslexia. The aim of this series is to uncover what dyslexia really is in the face of prevailing myths. We will be sharing with you the signs, factors responsible, possible intervention plans and strategies, and other interesting information.

Long ago, dyslexia was termed as word blindness. It was also associated with visual impairment. More than it was an educational problem or psychological one, Dyslexia was considered a medical problem that stemmed from damages to brain areas that control language. This introductory article will highlight what dyslexia means and some common myths about dyslexia. You will find out that a child who expresses difficulty reading, or has challenges with sounds or letters of the alphabet is not stupid, lazy or lacking motivation.

What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia as a word can be broken into two parts- Dys and lexia. Dys means “the absence of” while lexia means language. Thus, Dyslexia is commonly regarded as a difficulty with language which may include: reading, spelling, writing and sometimes speaking.

9 Myths about Dyslexiaalphabet

1. Dyslexia is a visual problem: Reversing letters as b’s instead of d’s is one of the signs of dyslexia but not a sufficient cause or sign for a dyslexia diagnosis. Most children while learning how to write, may reverse letters and eventually grow out of it.

2. Dyslexia affects only boys: Dyslexia is prevalent in both boys and girls. The reason boys get the most referrals is because of their behaviour. In expressing frustration regarding a reading difficulty, the teacher notices and makes referrals.

3. Poor performance equals dyslexia: Dyslexia as a learning difficulty does not imply intellectual disability. In fact most students with dyslexia may have an average or above average intelligence.

4. Dyslexics cannot read:  Children with dyslexia may find it difficult to read, but they can learn to read in which case, it takes them greater effort and more time to read.

5. Dyslexia can be outgrown: Dyslexia as we will see later is a difficulty that stems from impairments in brain functioning. As such, children with dyslexia grow on to become adults who read less automatically like those without dyslexia.

6. Dyslexia is caused by a lack of phonics instruction: Teaching a child phonics will not alleviate dyslexia . While they are able to learn phonics,  they experience difficulties applying them.

7. Every child who struggles with reading is dyslexic: Dyslexia is the most common cause of difficulties with reading, but it is by no means the only cause. Dyslexia does not only cause difficulties in reading but also in spelling, speech, and memorization. If a child is dyslexic, there will be other warning signs.

8. People with dyslexia see things backwards: Children with dyslexia do not see things backwards because dyslexia is not a problem with the eyes. Dyslexia may cause people to reverse certain words because of their confusion when discerning between left and right and their difficulties with comprehension.

brain areas

9. Children with dyslexia are just lazy. They should try harder!: Research has shown that those with dyslexia use a different part of their brain when reading and working with language. Dyslexic people show an abnormal pattern of brain function when reading: they show  under-activity in some regions and over-activity in another which, according to researches, accounts for the difficulty they have in extracting meaning from the printed word.

 

 

stupid 2A number of research studies have  provided evidence that people with dyslexia are not poorly taught, lazy, or stupid, rather they  have an inborn brain abnormality that does not have anything to do with their intelligence. When teachers and parents are not aware of these facts, the child is often labelled or branded as being ‘lazy or stupid.’ If children with dyslexia are not diagnosed early enough or do not receive the right type of intervention or classroom accommodations, they often struggle in school.

With the above myths and corresponding truths to debunk them, it is clear that many people including professionals have the wrong idea regarding the cause, symptoms, diagnoses and interventions for  Dyslexia.

 Always remember that every child learns uniquely, Dyslexia isn’t stupidity or laziness!

Welcome to the Dyslexia Awareness month!  Follow @drmorayojimoh for interesting updates.

 

 


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Equip your child for life

???????????????????The school session is gradually coming to an end and summer is just around the corner. Students are putting in their best efforts to make sure they do well to be rewarded with an exciting summer trip. While some children are on the top of their game when it comes to learning and academics, some others may just be struggling to catch up and are slow learners. It is important to understand each child’s needs and peculiarities when it comes to learning. There are different learning styles depending on how each brain learns. Some children are visual in that they quickly assimilate concepts demonstrated in a visual form using pictures, charts, graphs, tables, etc., while some are kinesthetic. This means that they would prefer to touch and feel what is being taught by way of practical classes to assimilate the new information efficiently.

Smart Brain

Regardless of each child’s learning style, there are basic processes involved in learning, reading, writing and any academic task.  The underlying processes responsible for any form of learning to take place are called cognitive processes. The strength of these processes are very critical for learning and academic excellence. These cognitive processes include: Attention, Working Memory, Thinking and reasoning, Sensory integration, Problem solving, Auditory processing, Visual processing, Cognitive flexibility, Processing speed, etc

Learning difficulties, thus, arise when either or some of these skills are weak.

Here’s the good news!

Cognitive Processes and skills can be improved upon!

Research has shown that cognitive or brain training has the capacity to strengthen neural connections in the brain. The neurons are brain cells necessary for processing information from the five senses and also responsible for the above mentioned cognitive processes. When the brain is being trained consistently, those aspects are fortified and efficient processing of information results, however, when they are left dormant, they are pruned. Yes pruned! Research shows that we lose the functionality of aspects of the brain that are not in use. The popular saying in this regard is “You either USE it or LOSE it”.


brainware safariYou can equip your child or student for life; by giving him/her access to cognitive enhancement software that will serve to train the brain for optimal performance and academic success.  One major brain training computer program that has garnered a lot of research and interest from education professionals in the United States is BrainWare Safari. Developed by Learning Enhancement Corporation in Chicago, BrainWare Safari is an interactive software that incorporates 35 years of scientific research and approaches to cognitive development into a video game format. Its comprises of 20 exercises and 168 progressively challenging levels that improve cognitive processes as attention, memory, thinking, visual and auditory processing, and sensory integration.  Some of the benefits of BrainWare Safari include:

  • Improved cognitive ability by an average of 4 years in just 12 weeks of CONSISTENT use
  • Boosts academic performance by an average of 1 year 
  • Equips with problem solving skills
  • Increased Confidence
  • Passion for learning and success
  • Striking a balance between learning and fun
  • Home and School Use
  • Parental monitoring of child’s progress.

Brainware use

For more information on purchasing BrainWare Safari and how it works to help children and students, or you, Please click HERE

….. Bringing out the best in children.


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Understanding Autism

Have you ever wondered what exactly autism is? Do you know someone who you think might be autistic? Would you like to understand and relate better with him or her? Are there any available treatments for autism?

Most people have heard of Autistic disorder, more commonly known as Autism, and may have a vague idea of some behaviours to expect from an autistic person. A typical example would be Dustin Hoffman’s award winning portrayal in the 1988 hit movie “Rain Man”. What this article aims to do is not just to give more information about autism, but to elicit a deeper understanding of the disorder so that one can relate better with such people.

According to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV (DSM-IV), autism should be diagnosed when a person has at least six or more symptoms from the 3 major symptom areas which are Social interactions, Communication and Repetitive and rigid behaviours. It is also noted that these Symptoms should be apparent before 3 years of age. Autism is found 4 times more often in boys than girls. Now to explore these areas and how one can cope with people expressing these symptoms. 

Autistic people have problems with social interactions so you’d find that they don’t express themselves the way A child alone in a school playgroundnormal people do in their speech and gestures and they don’t keep eye contact. They prefer to keep to themselves and seem to lack empathy. This makes it difficult for them to make friends and in fact it doesn’t often seem like they are interested in doing so. Having an autistic child in a normal school setting my not be the best option as they do not enjoy crowds and that much attention either. As they do form attachments to caregivers, it would be preferable for their caregivers to teach them and spend time with them in their homes, a place where they are used to already. Caregivers also have to understand what behaviours to expect and realize it is not their fault that the child seems indifferent or does not want to play with them. It could be frustrating but autistic people need patience, along with the presence and attention of the caregiver.

They also have language problems. Either their sentences are incomplete or they keep repeating the same word over and over. They rarely gesture when they speak so particular attention would have to be paid when they are trying to communicate. Again this requires a lot of patience and understanding. One can try to probe them when they think they have an idea of what the autistic person is trying to say. However they should not be hurried or forced to speak faster or clearer because it would not help the situation.

94387630Finally, they’d have one or more repetitive behaviour patterns. A common one is having specific items that they stick to, like seating on the same chair and the same spot, using the same cup each day and playing with the same toys. They also stick to a strict routine each day, doing the same activities in the same pattern, and have compulsions, such as arranging items in a particular order. It may seem weird but one should not interfere as it may make them very anxious. They have limited interests due to their strict daily pattern so finding what would keep them happy would not be difficult. However, it may be difficult to watch them do repetitive body movements such as turning their heads or flapping their hands again and again. This does not mean there’s a problem as they reward themselves internally for such behaviour. One should just observe to make sure they do not harm themselves in the process.

It is important to treat autistic people not like they have a disorder or like they are weird, as they still have feelings, but as a different type of people. However, there is a possibility of improving their condition and making them closer to normal.

 

Neurofeedback and Autism

kent_eeg_4

Neurofeedback is one of the treatments that could help improve an autistic persons condition. It is the monitoring and normalizing of the persons brainwave activities through an electroencephalographic (EEG) brain scan. Of the few and limited treatments for autism, in a small number of studies, improvements in speech and social interaction have been found after people with autism used neurofeedback compared to those who didn’t. So it is definitely a treatment one can give a chance in order to improve an autistic persons quality of life. (For more information on neurofeedback visit http://www.mobilehealthconsult.org/?page_id=724 )

April is Autism awareness month, spread the knowledge about autism!