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Dyslexia: Fact or Fiction?
Megan struggles to read. She is eight years old and everyone in her class seems to read better than her. Megan tries really hard but it never gets easier. She feels silly. Mom thinks Megan has dyslexia.
According to popular belief, dyslexia is a disorder which causes kids to struggle with reading, spelling, writing and studying. Many believe that dyslexia is a neurological disorder in the brain that causes information to be processed and interpreted differently. Some people even believe that dyslexia is genetic.
Road to Reading
Susan du Plessis, director of Edublox Reading and Learning Clinic, says that if the term ‘dyslexia’ is only used to indicate a reading problem, it’s used correctly, but she doesn’t subscribe to the theory that it’s a neurological disorder.
Susan shares this view with many others in both the fields of medicine and education. Many kids are labelled dyslexic from a very early age, long before they’ve even mastered the basic foundations required for reading. Can any child be labelled a ‘poor reader’ if he hasn’t been taught correctly or mastered specific steps on the road to reading?
Let’s look at the sport of ice hockey. Before you kit your child out with the protective gear required by the sport and expect him to make the team, he first needs to learn how to ice skate, both forwards and backwards. He must also learn to turn and stop. Once he has mastered this step, he can move on to learning to control the puck with the stick, to pass and receive a pass, and to shoot. Only when these skills are well practised and achieved, and he also knows the rules of the game, can he possibly make the team.
“It’s exactly the same with reading,” explains Susan. “Without a good foundation and mastering the individual steps, children simply don’t learn to read well.”
Steps to Reading
Learning to read is a process. In order for a child to master this complex task, he or she needs to master the following skills:Language
This vital first step begins at birth. Before any child can learn to read, he or she must have a good grasp of language. It’s the step that fits in at the same level as the ‘learning to skate’ section in our analogy on playing ice hockey. Before any child can learn to read, he must have a good command of language.Cognitive skills
The next step on the road to reading starts when your child is two or three years old. Cognitive skills are mental skills that are used to acquire knowledge. Learning difficulties, like dyslexia, are often linked to weak cognitive skills. Concentration, perception, memory and logical thinking are four important cognitive skills needed for reading.
Susan says that weak cognitive skills can be strengthened and normal cognitive skills can be enhanced to increase ease and performance in learning. “Specific brain-training exercises, as done at Edublox clinics, can strengthen these weaknesses leading to increased performance in reading, spelling and learning,” she states.
Just like the ice hockey player who is proud of his achievement when he finally makes the team, so your child, with some extra help in the right areas, can be a great reader and proud of it too.
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