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What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is not reading words backwards or writing letters backwards. That is a common misconception.

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) defines dyslexia as a brain-based type of learning disability that specifically impairs a person�????�???�??�?�¢??s ability to read. Individuals with dyslexia typically read at levels significantly lower than expected despite having normal intelligence. Although the disorder varies from person to person, common characteristics among people with dyslexia are difficulty with phonological processing (the manipulation of sounds), spelling, and/or rapid visual-verbal responding. Dyslexia can be inherited in some families, and recent studies have identified a number of genes that may predispose an individual to developing dyslexia.

Many individuals with dyslexia have difficulty with word retrieval, working memory, and written language. Since every individual is unique, common patterns exist, but no two children show the same symptoms exactly. Most children with dyslexia are bright, many are gifted, and can compensate to a certain point until their level of confusion surpasses typical teaching methodology. Nevertheless, most children with dyslexia struggle to recognize sounds that letters make, do not sequence the sounds in a meaningful way, and have to be taught to read in a systematized, multi-sensory, structured way with a reading system based on teaching the phonology (sound system) of our language.

How is dyslexia diagnosed?

A thorough evaluation must be conducted by a psychologist, neuropsychologist, speech-language pathologist, or a specialist trained in the administration of individual, standardized tests, or a team comprised of two or three of these professionals. This comprehensive evaluation must include three parts to provide a thorough picture of the child�???�??�?�¢??s learning strengths and weaknesses: a cognitive battery, an achievement battery, and an oral language battery The cognitive battery must include psychological processing testing to assess how the child reasons and analyzes (verbally and nonverbally), and how he or she has acquired facts and general knowledge. The cognitive portion of the evaluation should also assess long-term, short-term, and working memory.

An achievement battery includes assessment of reading (decoding, comprehension, reading vocabulary) and should include timed and untimed tests. The battery should also include assessments for math computation assessment and math problem-solving. The achievement battery must include written language skills assessments such as spelling, sentence structure, story writing, etc.

The oral language battery, a very necessary component to a comprehensive evaluation, is often not administered, but provides more detailed information that provides insight into the underlying language skills that can support or hinder achievement in reading. An oral language battery should include assessment of receptive and expressive language knowledge and processing. Specific components of the oral language battery assesses semantic knowledge and use of words (vocabulary, sentence, and conversational discourse), knowledge and use of syntax (word order) and grammar (word function) in sentences, and the child�???�??�?�¢??s understanding of phonology (the rules the guide the way sounds are sequenced in the language).

A comprehensive evaluation is like putting the pieces of a puzzle together; all the pieces must be linked to make the correct diagnosis and to understand how to plan a course of teaching specific to the child.

Where can I get testing?

We recommend The Summit School.  The Summit School Testing

Where can I get tutoring?

What is dyscalculia?

Dyscalculia is a broad term for severe difficulties in math that describes a learning profile that includes a difficulty learning basic arithmetic facts or retrieving them once they are learned, a developmental delay in the learning of arithmetical procedures, and poor comprehension of numeral magnitude (Butterworth, 2005; Butterworth & Reigosa, 2007; Geary, 1990; Geary, 1993; Jordan et al., 2003). It includes math problems ranging from inability to understand the meaning of numbers to inability to apply math principles to solve problems. Dyscalculia involves inability to understand the meaning of numbers which means the quantities they represent. Students with dyscalculia cannot understand basic operations of addition and subtraction. They may not understand complex problems such as multiplication, division, and more abstract problems. Because they do not understand math concepts, they do not remember and cannot build on them to master more complex problems. As with other types of learning disabilities, dyscalculia is believed to involve the language and visual processing centers of the brain. Evidence suggests learning disabilities such as dyscalculia may be inherited or can be caused by problems with brain development. There is some association between dyslexia and dyscalculia in children and adults.

What is dysgraphia?

Dysgraphia is a neurological disorder characterized by writing disabilities. Specifically, the disorder causes a person�¢??s writing to be distorted or incorrect. In children, the disorder generally emerges when they are first introduced to writing. They make inappropriately sized and spaced letters, or write wrong or misspelled words, despite thorough instruction. Children with the disorder may have other learning disabilities; however, they usually have no social or other academic problems. Cases of dysgraphia in adults generally occur after some trauma. In addition to poor handwriting, dysgraphia is characterized by wrong or odd spelling, and production of words that are not correct (i.e., using �¢??boy�¢?? for �¢??child�¢??).

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved on October 14, 2013

Does dyslexia run in families?

Yes, research indicates that there are specific genes associated with dyslexia. Because no two people are alike, and because dyslexia is not a syndrome, the symptoms displayed by a parent could look very different for the child. When parents know that dyslexia or reading difficulties are present in the family, they should monitor their childrenâ??s progress carefully, starting at age two when children begin to develop spoken language, with continued careful diligence during the preschool years and early elementary school grades when pre-reading and writing skills are introduced.

What are executive function challenges?

Children who have executive function challenges have a difficult time adapting to the teaching styles and rules of different teachers, conceptualizing, planning and implementing a research report (and even a simple book report), and performing tasks that have multiple layers (such as spontaneous writing and the need to integrate knowledge in spelling, capitalization/punctuation, sentence structure and handwriting). Often, children with executive function difficulties become very frustrated because â??they canâ??t do schoolâ?? despite their ability to understand the concepts taught in the moment they are taught.

There are specific â??hallmarksâ?? of executive function challenges. Some or several of the following list may be evident in a child or an adult:

  • Difficulty with working memory
  • Easily distracted by external or internal stimuli
  • Perseveration of response sets
  • Difficulty with initiating activity
  • Difficulty with maintaining effort
  • Difficulty with recognizing and/or utilizing feedback
  • Difficulty modulating activity without cues
  • Poor self-awareness of deficits
  • Anxiety issues despite seemingly grade level skills

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