Dyslexia

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Reading in the society is valued highly and even though a majority of children in most learning institutions do so with relative ease, a minority of these children experience specific difficulty in learning and are often referred to as dyslexic (Snowling, 2001). Such children exhibit certain reading abnormalities to be labeled as dyslexic. They experience reading difficulties, spelling problems and manipulation of numbers becomes difficult. When asked to read what they have written, the oral version is usually correct. For example while reading they confuse letters that are similar in shape or sounds. For instance for words, they may confuse horse and house whereas for letters they may confuse letter d and b. These words therefore prove to be very difficult for a dyslexic child to learn.

Writing also is no mean task for the dyslexic child. These children fail to keep up in line while writing resulting in very clumsy writing. The words are often shortened and repeated or appear in the wrong places. Letters tend to be fused up while writing creating difficulty for the reader as they appear to be so close together. The content of the writing with these children is often very rich but with numerous spelling mistakes. Unfortunately these children also experience comprehension difficulties, this is a result of their poor decoding. However, this  difficulty in comprehension is secondary and if the dyslexic child was relieved the task of decoding for example by reading it out to them then their comprehension would be like that of a normal child. Lundeberg &Hoien maintain that a dyslexic child also have very low listening command which in turn affects the difficulty in comprehension( Lundeberg &Hoien, 2000).

Their oral language is however normal as compared to that of other children. However scholars have provided evidence asserting that poor comprehenders often have pitiable oral language because of their inability to decode information properly. This can be true of dyslexic children. In regard to writing whether cursive or printing the dyslexic child often experiences difficulty. While printing they tend to mix the upper and lower cases with irregular arrangement and slanting. They have difficulty in writing within the margins and on the lines as appropriate. Their writing is often very clumsy, illegible and extremely immature.

Important to note, is that awful teaching, neglectful parents and difficult life at home may be the reason to many reading problems with many children but this is not the reason many children have dyslexia. With the emphasis on the society on literacy, the educators must be keen to identify the students with such a difference so that this difference does not translate into a disability making it more difficult for the student.

Assessment

The subjects of this assessment are a pair of 13year old twin sisters who exhibit different degrees of dyslexia. The variance in the degree of dyslexia may be due to environmental factors that the two have been exposed to. The assessment criterion highly depends on the age of the child and whether the child is school going or an adult. The assessment tool here will depend on the age of the twins since it is the only information provided.  The results of the assessment will be evaluated separately because the twins also vary in their degree of dyslexia.

Traditionally, dyslexia was diagnosed through testing someone and later studying their results through sympotamology. However the method was wanting because it is possible that dyslexia results from physiological conditions such as vision or even hearing. Dyslexia cannot be classified as a disease but rather as a condition and in its assessment it is important to acknowledge the various strategies used in its diagnosis.

In this particular case therefore the twins are not exhibiting all the symptoms but rather some of the symptoms that suggest they might be suffer be suffering from the disorder. The fact that they exhibit symptoms not characteristic of other students suggests that they suffer from the condition.

Twin 1: She had irregular writing.

– Very clumsy.

-Spelling mistakes that ended in mixing up letters.

Twin 2: Confused words

-Poor numeral span.

-Reversing sounds.

–  Mispronouncing digraphs such as ‘ch’ and ‘sh’

– Excellent spelling skills that show she could correctly spell the words even though they were wrongly written.

Intervention

Various methods were used in helping the twins overcome the problem of dyslexia. The fact that they exhibited different degrees of the disorder meant that the assessment criterion was different for each one of them. For the first twin:

  1. An alphabetic arc was used to assist her in learning numbers and the alphabet. The alphabetic arc can be put in different colors for different numbers to emphasize them.
  2. Management of the child’s handwriting was also done. A handwriting programme is necessary to assist the dyslexic child improve on her handwriting.
  3. Practice by the child to instill what is already learnt is also important. The child was encouraged to constantly memorize what they have learned in order to encourage it to move into the long term memory.

The second twin was also put on intervention measures regarding her specific problem. These were:

  1. Discouraging independent work by the child but instead encouraging the parent to assist the child in her work to instill better writing skills.
  2. The alphabetic arc was also encouraged to help the girl master the different numerals.
  3. Personalizing work was also applied for instance the child was encouraged to use color to put more emphasis on words she had difficulty in differentiating.
  4. The reversing of words often results from difficulties in decoding and therefore phonological training was encouraged. This will encourage several regions of the brain to be active resulting in better phonological skills.

The outcome was that the first twin was able to improve her hand writing and write more consistently compared to before. The intensive practice was able to make her writing fall a bit on the lines as opposed to before when her writing always seemed to be irregular and completely illegible. The alphabetic arc also proved to be an important tool in masterly of the letters since the spelling improved tremendously. Even though the spelling was still wanting the student had a remarkable change. In the way she was spelling her words. Her clumsy handwriting translated to clearer handwriting an indication that the extensive training was fruitful. The constant practice was also proving to be important.

The second twin also recorded a tremendous difference in her writing. The parent at home was encouraged to be part of her work and instead discourage her from working independently. The parent admitted to having noticed a positive difference in her work as her numeral span improved. However phonological training is by far the most effective since within a week the twin was not reversing words as much as before. The student’s font was changed to point attention to the difference in words that she previously confused.

Personalizing her work also resulted in a positive outcome since different colors were used to put more emphasis on the words that were difficult to distinguish. In her case the alphabetic arc also helped in assisting her highlight the difference between letters with similar shape. It is therefore necessary to device these interventions as a teaching method for students with dyslexia.

Teaching plan:

The teaching plans main focus will be on how it is taught and what is taught. The initial step will be to teach the child the phonemes: let the child learn how to listen tom a single word and then break it down into its various sounds. Alternatively let them learn how to take a single sound and combine it to make a complete word. This usually is the easiest skill to learn even before the teacher introduces printing. Snowling also acknowledges the role op morphology and asserts that a teacher should expand the child’s vocabulary as well as their ability to learn and spell words correctly. She says that research has revealed that dyslexic children should be encouraged to combine all their senses that is, auditory, kinesthetic, visual and tactile (Snowling, 2000).

Dyslexic children also have problems intuiting the written language. The teacher’s role is to explicitly explain the rules to them. It is however important to explain one rule at a single time, let the child fully comprehend it both in spelling and in writing then introduce them to second rule. By the time of their identification, dyslexic children happen to be confused regarding the written word so it is important to establish a solid foundation by going back to the basics (Ott, 2006).

As a teacher it is good to acknowledge the age group within which a dyslexic child lies, this way you will be able to apply the most appropriate method in helping the child perform. Usually an orientation through counseling is encouraged. This is particular for children above nine years of age. This is due to the fact that they are already going through a lot of frustration trying to write, read and spell well like the other children in their age. An orientation through counseling will enable them perceive themselves more clearly and give an insight to their condition (Braun & Davis).

More importantly it is necessary for the parent to avoid labeling the students. Referring to students as dyslexic may only make it more difficult for them to improve. Do not criticize the students especially when you realize they are taking time to learn but instead express your patient with them. Using your own methods for instance in mastery of symbols, because initially they may not learn the concept as their own but need to repeat it over and aver again (Braun, 1997). In conclusion every student with dyslexia is capable of improving. The teacher’s role in helping them improve surpasses that of the parent.

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