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Dyslexia Learning Disability

"Dyslexia" means “poor language,” and dyslexia is a particular type of learning disability. This article provides an overview of the learning disability called dyslexia. Keep reading to learn  more about the definition of dyslexia and how it can affect the education of children and teens who have it.

A learning disability - also called a learning disorder or a learning difference - is an issue that affects how a person understands, remembers, and/or reacts to new information. Another way of putting this is that they may have problems with getting information to their brains, processing that information, or communicating about that information. Because these three activities are at the heart of learning, a learning disability can profoundly affect a child’s educational efforts. Learning disabilities are defined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Although the way that dyslexia is described may lead to the idea that it is related to visual impairment, the origins are actually neurological. The neurological origins mean that dyslexia is a persistent issue and one that does not improve on its own. And although it is referred to as a singular issue, dyslexia actually represents a group of related symptoms that result in language issues, primarily in reading, although writing, speaking, and spelling may also be impacted.

A person who has dyslexia may have language problems having to do with decoding words, accuracy in word recognition, reading fluently, and spelling. A person with dyslexia could be highly intelligent, but the learning disability might likely keep him or her from operating to his or her full capacity. Because language is so fundamental to many school activities and learning processes, the problems of dyslexia can underpin problems that spread to other areas. Immediately following dyslexia may be issues with reading comprehension and limited time spent in reading. But, with a domino-like effect, these difficulties can result in a limited vocabulary and a comparatively reduced body of knowledge compared to those of an avid reader. In addition, because the child has to work very hard for very little gain, he or she can become frustrated with education, which can seem like an ongoing stream of nearly impossible tasks. This provides an impetus to identify dyslexia early.

Other reading issues can appear similar to dyslexia, and there have been interpretations of dyslexia in which the term was applied more broadly than it now is. A child with a vision problem can certainly have persistent difficulties reading. Usually lenses that correct the vision properly will address this problem, although if it has been going on for some time, a child may have some catching up to do. Another reading issue that is persistent is the difficulty exhibited by a child who simply has not had sufficient opportunity to read and/or practice decoding. This can be addressed with extra practice. In addition, a child who is bored, distracted, or doesn’t like the book can seem to be having a reading problem that is actually centered somewhere else. In this case a change of context or material may prove helpful.

Because dyslexia has some commonalities with other learning disabilities, it can sometimes be confused for one of the other members of the learning disability family. Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, or AD(H)D, can cause a child to have difficulty in focusing and be inattentive, as well as be hyperactive and impulsive. The first two behaviors can certainly make learning to read difficult and result in some similar outcomes as dyslexia.

Learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, need to be properly identified and evaluated by an education professional. Children with learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, are assisted in a specially designed program through an individualized education plan (IEP). Such a plan might involve special assistance, the use of tested techniques, and accommodations to provide a child with alternate means of acquiring the same learning, when appropriate.