Understanding Dyslexia

It has been suggested that Dyslexia affects up to 10% of the UK population to varying degrees, with 4% being severely affected. The affect of this neuro-logical condition on the individual can have serious social implications, since it can severely affect self-esteem and confidence. Linda Jones from the Kip McGrath Education Centre in Southsea gives an overview of the condition.

We often hear children and adults described as ‘dyslexic’, but what do we mean and are we right? There are many different views on what dyslexia actually is and definitions vary across cultures and professions. In fact there is no right or wrong answer, as there is no accepted definition for dyslexia. In broad terms dyslexia is mainly a language based learning disability. Those affected have problems acquiring and retaining literacy skills such as reading writing and spelling. It is now widely accepted that dyslexia can also affect a number of other areas including memory, organisation, concentration and even balance. This is why processing information can be so difficult for dyslexics.
However, many famous people diagnosed with varying degrees of dyslexia, such as Albert Einstien, Winston Churchill and Richard Branson, were not prevented from becoming highly successful in their chosen fields. Dyslexia does not have to prevent people from achieving. But, because it affects the way people process information it can as a result affect their ability to learn. This processing difficulty can be due to a number of reasons:

  • A marked inefficiency in the working or short-term memory system
  • Problems connecting the letter patterns with the associated sounds
  • Difficulties ordering or sequencing; this may also show itself as clumsiness caused by the brain sending the wrong signals to parts of the body in the wrong order
  • A range of problems connected with visual processing and accessing the memory of visual patterns

‘We are aware that dyslexia is an umbrella term and therefore like to assess each child in order to determine their particular needs. For those who wish to receive support at one of our centres we design individual lesson plans and target areas for development. We also praise children’s strengths and boost their confidence as children can feel very negative about their difficulties in this area.

‘If a child comes to us for tuition we see them either once or twice a week for 80 minute sessions. During this time they will use both written and computer based resources and complete up to six activities. Success is built in and the progress they make is built upon weekly. This is supported by weekly homework as well. It sounds a lot but the children love seeing their skills grow. It is so rewarding to see children become more confident readers and writers.’

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