“Come on class, turn to chapter 2,page 15,para 3, line 6 and Indraneil you start reading.”
This was it for Pratham the third grader as he recounted his never ending tug of war with words. He just hated them. No one ever understood him, his parents thought him to be playing, his friends mocked him and the teacher always sent him out. A shout by the teacher brought him back to the real world.
What they never understood was that Pratham was indeed helpless… he was suffering and needed help. He suffered from Dyslexia, a disorder among children associated with reading and writing difficulties. And this suffering was indeed very, very real.
Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with word recognition,poor spelling and difficulties in decoding meanings.Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge."
Dyslexia is the most common learning disability in children and persists throughout life. The severity of dyslexia can vary from mild to severe. The sooner dyslexia is treated, the more favorable the outcome. However, it is never too late for people with dyslexia to learn to improve their language skills.
Dyslexia is believed to be caused by both genetic and environmental factors. Some cases run in families. It often occurs in people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and is associated with similar difficulties with numbers.It may begin in adulthood as the result of a traumatic brain injury, stroke, or dementia. The underlying mechanisms of dyslexia are problems within the brain's language processing. Dyslexia is diagnosed through a series of tests of memory, spelling, vision, and reading skills. Dyslexia is separate from reading difficulties caused by hearing or vision problems or by insufficient teaching.
Dyslexia is quite common, affecting 20 percent of the population and representing 80– 90 percent of all those with learning disabilities. There are significant differences in brain connectivity between dyslexic and typical reading children, which provides a neurological basis for why reading fluently is a struggle for those with dyslexia.
Reading is a complex phenomenon which requires our brains to connect letters to sounds, put those sounds in the right order, and pull the words together into sentences and paragraphs we can read and comprehend. This is where the problem begins...People with dyslexia have trouble matching the letters they see on the page with the sounds those letters and combinations of letters make. And this makes all further steps harder.
Dyslexic children and adults struggle to read fluently, spell words correctly and learn a second language, among other challenges.
However, it is important to note that these difficulties have no connection to the overall intelligence of the child. In fact, dyslexia is an unexpected difficulty in reading in an individual who has the intelligence to be a much better reader. While people with dyslexia are slow readers, they often, paradoxically, are very fast and creative thinkers with strong reasoning abilities.
A huge problem that people with dyslexia or any disability in general is the stigma around it. The stigma makes them feel worse convincing them that they are a misfit in this so called perfect world. This needs to change and it is within us to initiate the change. And to do that we need to first accept ourselves as we are. Realize that maybe you are different and stand out but that is what makes you beautiful.
With any obstacle or challenge you face, it's important to identify and accept that there could be an issue there in the first place. The problem then becomes a bit psychological.
Harshada, a third grader diagnosed with dyslexia was embarrassed to talk about it. In a public setting or event, she often heard things like, "Oh, Harshada is going for extra classes because she's a slow learner, I sympathise with her"; “poor child look what has happened to her”. As a result, she came up with various excuses when she actually had to attend these extra classes.
“All that matters is how you see yourself”. Look at this as a different method or way of processing information and not as a hindrance. Looking at it as an obstacle causes a lot of unnecessary issues. Yes, you may not be the best at reading, writing, forming sentences or learning certain things but you have many other talents at your disposal.
Very often, darsheel would omit letters and words from sentences, and was having to deal with poor handwriting, inability to understand concepts, and other such problems. At the time, what was strange to him and others around was the fact that it didn't affect him in other aspects of my life. He loved sport, painting, dancing, meeting new people etc., and all those elements were going great. The issue was only in the classroom.
A look back at history tells us that a vast majority of dyslexics have succeeded tremendously in life. The likes of Albert Einstein, Richard Branson, Tom Cruise, Muhammad Ali and Jennifer Aniston to name a few; and we all know how well these individuals have done!
Dyslexics can be mentally retarded', 'there is no cure for dyslexia', 'people with dyslexia won't succeed in life', 'no one in my family has this issue, so my child can't be dyslexic' Unfortunately these are just some of the myths about dyslexia.While we've come a long way in today's world with regard to helping people with learning difficulties, there are still so many misconceptions about it. There is a belief among some that if you're dyslexic, you fall behind in the pecking order - be it at school, college or on the job. This is nothing but rubbish. BUT the fact is “Dyslexia is NOT a disease and it's most certainly not something that's prevalent because of a lack of intelligence.”
Dealing with dyslexia can be emotionally draining and exhausting without the right approach and support.
Consider this case:
Paul and Rohan are fifth graders diagnosed with dyslexia who get extra time for their term papers.
Both approached this in two completely different ways. Paul never told anyone about it. Whereas Rohan was open a honest and accepting about the issues he faced and was happy to get extra time and also didn't mind talking about it in his circle. Paul decided to hide and keep it quiet. Mostly he would try and finish along with the rest of his classmates and not even utilize the extra time that was given.
Although he understood that it was for his good, hiding it from others and difficulties in accepting it took a toll on him emotionally. During one of the exams, he used up the full extra 15 minutes. But Once it was over, he waited until everyone had left the building and only then stepped out to go home.
Rohan was the exact opposite. He was quite open and relaxed and, each time he completed a paper, he went and spoke to all his friends.
This is where Paul needs to realise that dyslexia is nothing to be embarrassed about. Okay, we may not be great when it comes to spelling or understanding certain concepts, but we do have other skill sets so let's make the most of those.
A last heartfelt note to the parents and youngsters of today, don't let the mention of the word dyslexia pull you down. "Dyslexia is not a difficulty or a disability my friend, it's a gift!” So seek help,dream big,follow your heart and not care about what others feel, work for yourself and only yourself and surely amazing things will happen.