A new school year has begun and with it often comes new issues besides Covid-19, such as stomach flue and headaches. Learning problems often appear with parents and teachers wondering what is going on with the child. They may think he or she is not trying hard enough, knows what is going on all around them and cannot focus on what is front of them. Learning issues such as ADD, ADHD, and dyslexia often are the culprit.

Dyslexia is a learning disorder that involves difficulty reading and writing due to problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words (decoding). Dyslexia involves the ways that the brain processes graphic symbols and the sounds of words. It commonly affects word recognition, spelling and the ability to match letters to sounds.

Also called a reading disability, dyslexia affects areas of the brain that process language. Dyslexia causes people to reverse letters and numbers and to see words backwards. This makes it hard to recognize short, familiar words or to sound out longer words.

Dyslexia is common. Some experts believe that 5-10% of people have it and perhaps as high as 17%.

The disorder is present at birth and cannot be prevented or cured, but it can be managed with special instruction and support. Early intervention to address reading problems is important.

Dyslexia is a neurological issue and is hereditary, passed down in the genes. So, if one of the parents struggled with reading, it’s more likely the child will too. It may skip a generation, but before you conclude that it’s not in the family, think carefully. Dyslexia is not a form of autism, although disorientation is a factor in both conditions.

Anxiety is the most frequent emotional symptom of dyslexics. They become fearful because of the constant frustration and confusion and the constant anxiety can lead to depression for the child.

Dyslexia tends to appear more frequently in early childhood as they may learn to crawl, walk, talk and ride a bicycle later than their peers. Dyslexia symptoms can arise when young people start learning more complex skills, such as difficulty in reading fluency, sentence structure and in-depth writing. On paper he or she may reverse numbers and letters without realizing it.

A person with dyslexia may be less coordinated than their peers. For example, catching a ball may be difficult, and they may confuse left and right. Reduced eye-hand coordination can also be another symptom, and they have a hard time trying to concentrate. After a few minutes of struggling to read or write they are mentally exhausted.

Also, compared to the general population, a higher number of dyslexic children have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – approximately 30%.

Dyslexia affects each person differently, and most people find ways to accommodate their learning differences and thrive. Receiving a early diagnosis and support early in life can have long-term benefits.

Managing children with dyslexia may involve an evaluation of the child’s needs and developing a targeted program for the child. Learning tools can be adapted for the child with guidance and support, such as allowing more time to take a test or the chance to test orally. Have them work in a quiet space with ear plugs or noise canceling headphones and keep distractions at a minimum. Organize notes visually, using highlighters or a color coding system. Employ time management strategies such as breaking up projects into smaller parts and drafting an online before starting a task.

Dyslexic children are often very smart, they just need the right key to unlock the door for their success.

Famous people with dyslexia are actors Tom Cruise and Orlando Bloom, entrepreneurs Richard Branson and Walt Disney, comedian Jim Carrey and producer Steven Spielberg.

“I don’t have a dis---ability, I have a different ability,” said Robert M. Hansel.

Overfield is an advocate for the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Park County. (307)250-2978.

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