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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?

boy

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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Neurofeedback as an alternative treatment for children with ADHD

Hyperactive, distractible and restless are words that describe young David (not real name), a 6 year old boy who was unable to learn as much as his peers and didn’t like school’

adhd

Drugs are believed to be the main solution to many physical illnesses and psychological disorders, whereas recent advancement in technology has proved otherwise. Just like David, many children who have maladaptive behavioral tendencies resulting from genetic or biological complications and have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) may benefit  not only from medications which are likely to give side effects but a new innovative treatment solution called neurofeedback.

Neurofeedback manages the symptoms of ADHD in line with the principle of the biological causal factors of the disorder. Lubar (1991), reported that children with ADHD have abnormal brain wave activity, showing a predominance of slow waves (theta) as opposed to fast waves (sensorimotor rhythm, beta). Children with ADHD find it difficult to sit still and pay attention. They could also be impulsive and hyperactive. Therefore, the aim of neurofeedback training would be to train those aspects of the brain eliciting slow waves and help them achieve focused attention and concentration.

neurofeedback

Training and altering the brain wave pattern is a delicate process and needs to be handled by a certified practitioner. In a typical session, sensors are placed on the scalp to monitor and train brain wave activity at specific points on the brain while a feedback is given back to the child though video games, animations and auditory cues via the computer. The child’s performance on the video game is premised on meeting predetermined thresholds of brain activity. David’s central cortex and the pre-frontal cortex were mostly trained to increase sensorimotor rhythm (SMR) which will enable him stay focused, alert and able to learn. Thus, as clients continue in the therapy sessions, they are able to reduce their slow wave activity and/or increase their fast wave activity even after the completion.

A 2005 study by Monastra, Lynn, Linden, Lubar, Gruzelier, and LaVaque reported that children with ADHD who underwent neurofeedback therapy experienced better behavioral control, an increase in attention level, improved intelligence quotients and academic performance, when compared to another group who did not undergo this therapy procedure.

David received a total of 52 sessions though a significant improvement was noticed after the 40th session. David was able to focus, concentrate, stay calm and complete his school homeworks independently and enthusiastically.

The long term results of neurofeedback therapies are remarkable. With no side effects whatsoever, the changes made to the brain wave patterns are permanent and will help such children lead normal lives and equally give them the opportunity to learn as much as other children can. Great potentials exist with this treatment modality in helping not just children with behavioral disorders but those with learning difficulties.

REFERENCES

Lubar, J. F. (1991). Discourse on the development of EEG diagnostics and biofeedback treatment for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorders.Biofeedback and Self-Regulation, 16, 201-225.

Monastra, V. J., Lynn, S., Linden, M., Lubar, J.F., Gruzelier, J., & LaVaque, T. J. (2005). Electroencephalographic Biofeedback in the Treatment of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, Vol. 30(2) 2, 95-114