Health & Wellness

Oct 16, 2012 11:05 AM by Lindsey Gordon (Helena)

Dyslexia Awareness Month: Knowing the signs

October is Dyslexia Awareness Month.

One in ten people display symptoms of dyslexia, but it isn't just about "reading backwards."

"Dyslexia refers to a developmental reading disorder," said Gregory Burns, Ph.D., who works in neuropsychology.

He adds,"When a child or adult is unable to read on a level that is expected given their abilities, their intellectual abilities, then technically, that's a dyslexia."

Dr. Burns has worked with a number of students in the Helena area and through a series of tests, is able to diagnose dyslexia.

"It is not fundamentally a vision problem. What it is, it's a central nervous system processing disorder. Their brains do not efficiently, or effectively, translate the symbols of numbers and letters and then connect it with the auditory. They don't form word recognition very easily, letter and sound recognition is difficult for them," said Dr. Burns.

Some warning signs of dyslexia include:

  • Difficulty learning to speak
  • Trouble learning letters and their sounds
  • Difficulty organizing written and spoken language
  • Difficulty reading quickly enough to comprehend
  • Difficulty spelling

The sooner you discover your child has a problem with reading, the better. The earlier you start employing tools for dealing with dyslexia, the better chance your child has with handling the disorder and being successful.

"So many ways of getting around what the struggle is that it's harder to break those habits," said Charlene Kautzman, who runs the Helena Sylvan Learning Center.

Sometimes, it's even harder for adults to overcome the disorder they've struggled with all their lives.

"They are even more set in their ways and maybe have a harder time trying new things that might help," said Kautzman.

The tools used to help someone cope with dyslexia include using tactile sensation or colored overlays.

Kautzman adds,"We've had some students tell us that the letters quite jumping around when they use those and so that is helping them focus on what they need to read."

"Understanding the context of the sentence, they're not going to make the same mistake with saying 'god' for 'dog,' you know the context of the sentence and the understanding is going to help," she finishes.

If you suspect your child may have a reading disorder, it's important to speak with their teacher and school administration.

Dyslexia has varying degrees of debilitation and it doesn't mean a child or adult cannot be successful.

Dr. Burns finishes, "Some of the most brilliant people through the ages have had reading disorders".