How To Manage Dyslexia In Children

Dr-Olayinka-Atilola-pixDr. Olayinka Atilola, a child and adolescent neuro-psychiatrist, works at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital. Atilola, who is also an academic in Behavioural Medicine, spoke to GERALDINE AKUTU, on causes of dyslexia in children and how parents should manage it.

WHAT is Dyslexia and how common is it in children?

Dyslexia, also known as reading disorder, is a childhood developmental disorder characterised by reading problems despite normal intelligence, good visual-acuity, and adequate schooling. It is a specific disorder of scholastic skill in that the scholastic challenge, which such children have, is with reading and related skills such as spelling and comprehension. Occasionally, writing skills may be affected. Other scholastic skills such arithmetic skills are often preserved.

What causes dyslexia and symptoms?

The cause of dyslexia is not known. However, some genetic factors have been implicated. Children of person who had dyslexia are at higher risk. Some environmental factors such as parental education and teacher quality are thought to aid the genetic factors in producing dyslexia. Some abnormalities of some neurons in the part of the brain, which control language and reading functions have also been implicated. The diagnosis of dyslexia is made when the child’s reading performance is significantly below the level expected on the basis of age, general intelligence, and school placement.

In the early stages, symptoms include difficulties in reciting the alphabet and in giving the correct names of letters. In the later stages, other symptoms include slow reading, long hesitations or “loss of place” in text, reversals of words in sentences or of letters within words and omissions, substitutions, distortions, or additions of words while reading. A common end result is inability to comprehend passages read. This may present in the form of inability to recall facts read and inability to draw conclusions or inferences from material read. Expressive and receptive language disorder shares some similarities and they seem to have the same neuronal origin.

How is it diagnosed?

A neurodevelopment clinician should be able to diagnose dyslexia based on clinical symptoms. Tests commonly used for dyslexia, includes the Wechsler Intelligence Test for Children and the Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing. However, these tests should not be used as the single basis for the diagnosis of dyslexia. It is always better to match the results from such tests with clinical and classroom-based examination.

How can professionals help with Dyslexia?

It is important to state that whatever the intervention has to be done early. This is because intervention done within the first three years or so, when the language areas of the brain are still developing, is the most successful in reducing the long-term impacts of dyslexia. It is also important to know that there are no medicines that can correct dyslexia.

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