Signs of dyslexia in kids and adults point to a common learning disability that affects reading and writing skills — and once identified, it can be helped.
"I, myself, was always recognized as the 'slow one' in the family. It was quite true, and I knew it and accepted it. Writing and spelling were always terribly difficult for me.”
The woman who gave this description of being “slow” was not someone who struggled with low intelligence. In fact, the quote is from famed author and playwright Agatha Christie, known for her prolific writing talents.
The symptoms she described had nothing to do with her intellectual abilities. Instead she was listing symptoms of dyslexia she first experienced in her youth.
Dyslexia is a learning disability that has affected many successful and brilliant people, according to a CNN report. Other famous dyslexics include the 2009 Nobel Prize in Medicine winner, biologist Carol Greider, actor and producer Henry Winkler, and Ingvar Kamprad, the entrepreneur and founder of Ikea.
Unfortunately, many people with signs of dyslexia are unaware that their problems, or those of their offspring, are due to a language-based learning disability and not a lack of intelligence. They may struggle with self-esteem issues and try to hide their reading difficulties.
If you or your offspring have signs of dyslexia, it’s important to know you aren’t alone. The International Dyslexia Association points out dyslexia affects 15 to 20 percent of the population.
The good news is, once dyslexia is identified, dyslexic people at any age can improve their language abilities with specific learning techniques.
What causes the signs of dyslexia?
Dyslexia refers to a cluster of symptoms centered around difficulties with language skills, especially reading. People with dyslexia often have trouble writing and pronouncing certain words, too. They may have problems identifying the separate speech sounds within a word or learning how letters represent those sounds.
The exact cause of dyslexia isn’t known. However, studies have shown it has a neurobiological basis. That means the brains of dyslexics are “wired” a little differently than non-dyslexics — they simply don’t process language-based learning the way non-dyslexics do, according to the International Dyslexia Association. Dyslexia tends to “run” in families, so genes may play a role in who develops the condition.
Signs of dyslexia in children
The Learning Disabilities Association of America points out signs that may indicate dyslexia in children:
- Reading extremely slowly and painfully
- Confusing the order of letters
- Difficulty with reading comprehension
- Trouble recalling known words
- Difficulty with handwriting
Teachers do not always recognize the signs of dyslexia in students and, unfortunately, dyslexic children are sometimes assumed to be lazy or slow learners. So, it’s crucial parents contact their child’s school, a child psychologist, or their youngster’s pediatrician if their offspring is having difficulty or slowness in learning to read, the International Dyslexia Association explains.
If children who have dyslexia are diagnosed as early as kindergarten and first grade, and get reading instruction geared to their needs, research shows they will have significantly fewer problems learning to read at grade level than youngsters who are not identified as dyslexic and helped until third grade or later.
Evaluation techniques can determine whether your child has dyslexia, and you can ask for referrals to programs, often through your school system, that can help your youngster. Research has documented a specific teaching technique called structured literacy, which involves a system of word “decoding” strategies using phonology (the sound structure of words), that effectively helps most students with dyslexia improve their reading and comprehension skills.
Signs of dyslexia in adults shouldn’t be ignored
Because dyslexia is so common, there’s no doubt many adults with the learning disability have never been diagnosed. Some, although intelligent and creative, may never learn to read or write on a level on par with their abilities. The result is a type of hidden disability, resulting in a lack of self-confidence, possible underemployment, and difficulty pursuing higher education.
If you are an adult who reads slowly, recalls having trouble learning to read as a child, and you realize you omit, transpose, or add letters when you read or write, you might have dyslexia. Other signs of dyslexia in adults include feeling uncomfortable reading out loud, finding it difficult to pronounce uncommon multi-syllable words when you read, and avoiding courses or jobs that involve extensive reading.
If many of these problems sound familiar, the International Dyslexia Association recommends seeking consultation with a dyslexia specialist or a formal diagnostic assessment from a qualified examiner. Bottom line: People with dyslexia can learn strategies at any age to improve reading and writing skills.
April 01, 2020
Janet O’Dell, RN