• Pamela Douglas

DYSLEXIA IS REAL

Updated: Aug 1, 2021

Dyslexia is real.


Fifteen to twenty percent of the population is researched to have dyslexia.


As a professional dyslexic tutor I observe this demographic of students everyday. Various age groups from first grade to twelfth grade students seek help for this learning difference that tends to affect all areas of academics.


A dyslexic brain has a specific social difference in learning.


The root struggle of dyslexia is language.


In Greek “dys” means difficulty, and “lexia” means language.


Dyslexia is simply difficulty with language.


Research states that dyslexia is hereditary and it is a neurological processing dysfunction due to lack of phonological awareness.


This processing struggle comes from how the brain is created from inception, not from a lack of education or of trying to learn (Shaywitz & Shaywitz, 2008).


Specific to dyslexia, this group of learners can show symptoms of language struggle as early as preschool through adulthood.


It affects individuals with different behavioral indicators and when the struggle becomes unmanageable, parents contact me for help.

Dyslexia is a neurological brain deficit that creates problems in language, specifically reading and spelling. It has been around for ages even before writing systems were in place because of it’s root in brain formation and origin. The term dyslexia was first recognized by a few doctors from Germany, Britain and Scotland who began writing articles about it’s origin in the late 1800’s.

HISTORY OF DYSLEXIA Dr. Hinshelwood, a Scottish optic surgeon, is deemed the founder of the study of dyslexia because he published a series of reports in a medical press describing cases and the hereditary nature. He created the clinical and social awareness necessary to study dyslexia as an important medical issue. Between 1925 and 1948, a neurologist named Dr. Samuel Orton focused on the research of language disabilities. His detailed research during those years created the foundation for discovering the details of the definition of dyslexia. After his death The Orton Dyslexia Society was founded in the United States, and with significant growth became more recently The International Dyslexia Association, which continues in research and awareness today (Guardiola, 2001).


The International Dyslexia Association continually researches about the causes and treatment of dyslexia in association with reading. Certain areas of the brain are associated with reading, and dyslexia is researched as a phonological core deficit and reading fluency deficit. Working memory, rapid memory and fluency are also difficult because of these brain deficits, all affecting reading as the universal struggle.


The way the brain functions in anatomy, chemistry, and interventions has been researched recurrently in association with dyslexia.


Brain imaging has been used to visualize the anatomy and the physiology of brain processing to reveal the dyslexic brain’s difficulty with phonemes and graphemes of language.


This cognitive process takes several steps through the brain, and is not from a single location. If one area in the brain does not function properly, it does not connect with the other areas to make language processing smooth. This dysfunction in brain anatomy causes the difficulty in language and is not a consequence of vision or instruction, it is a processing disorder (The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) & Guinevere ,Ph.D, 2020).


As a professional tutor in Northern California, I focus specifically on this group of learners from mostly upper middle-class demographics. I concentrate on language remediation and changing brain plasticity, assisting these learners in understanding the English language to improve reading, spelling, writing, vocabulary and comprehension.


A curriculum is taught using Dr. Orton’s researched based methods generating substantial stimulating of neurons, and forming new plasticity to improve learning. Overall a dyslexic brain will have difficulty with phonological processing as the researched definition states, “these difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction,” (The International Dyslexia Association (IDA), 2013, p. 3).

All dyslexics are similar in the phonological deficit requiring explicit, systematic, multi-sensory instruction and remediation.


Yet identifying the condition in individuals is complex because the outcome is diverse for all students, depending highly on the severity of the neurological impact. Along with the neurological factors and learning capabilities, behavioral factors need consideration, and “for a full understanding” of dyslexia in an individual, it’s important “to link together biology, cognition, and behavior and consider the impact of cultural factors which can aggravate or ameliorate the condition”

All dyslexics are similar in the phonological deficit requiring explicit, systematic, multi-sensory instruction and remediation. Yet identifying the condition in individuals is complex because the outcome is diverse for all students, depending highly on the severity of the neurological impact.


Along with the neurological factors and learning capabilities, behavioral factors need consideration, and “for a full understanding” of dyslexia in an individual, it’s important “to link together biology, cognition, and behavior and consider the impact of cultural factors which can aggravate or ameliorate the condition” (School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK & Knight, 2018, p[.207).


Working with and observing similar behaviors of this group of learners creates a focus point for teaching systematically to their brain. Yet because much of learning is based on social experiences and the environment, factoring in the present technological generation having an impact on brain formation and the capacity for learning is a significant concentration in the tutoring process.


Taking the social and cultural environment into consideration is an important characteristic of learning. Social learning is extremely influential, and brain plasticity is organized and shaped by experiences and how the brain responds to light, language, movement and emotions.


Since a large amount of technology is now a significant aspect of learning, teaching and motivation need to focus on this social norm. When teaching is motivated by how the brain learns and acquires intellect, then neurons grow and formulate in the brain, establishing plasticity, and shaping each individuals intelligence based external experiences and the environment.


The “more synapses per neuron, increases in brain weight, differences in brain chemistry, the better performance on learning tasks resulting from experience with the enriched environment,” (Twardosz, 2012, p101).


This type of learning and plasticity formation is dependent on experiences and an important facet as a professional educator to take into consideration for teaching the whole individual. To form new neural pathways and plasticity in a dyslexic brain for complete language understanding, a systematic, explicit, multi-sensory teaching must take place.


This is the most important aspect to remediate any dyslexic brain, but each individuals social context and environment must be a significant factor to motivate. References

1. Guardiola1, J. G. (2001). The Evolution of Research on Dyslexia. Retrieved July 30, 2020, from http://ibgwww.colorado.edu/~gayan/ch1.pdf

2. Sarangi, S., Mahapatra, A. P. K., Kundu, A. K., & Mohapatra, S. (2014, April 27). INSIGHT INTO NEURAL PLASTICITY: AN OVERVIEW. Retrieved July 21, 2020, from http://eds.a.ebscohost.com/eds/detail/detail?vid=0&sid=7649e655-5899-4634-a17b-74dd9f84ca31%40sessionmgr4007&bdata=JkF1dGhUeXBlPXNzbyZzaXRlPWVkcy1saXZlJnNjb3BlPXNpdGU%3d#AN=110548379&db=a9h

3. School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK, & Knight, C. (2018, June 20). What is dyslexia? An exploration of the relationship between teachers’ understandings of dyslexia and their training experiences. Retrieved May 27, 2020, from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/dys.1593

4. Shaywitz, S. E., & Shaywitz, B. A. (2008). Paying attention to reading: the neurobiology of reading and dyslexia. Retrieved May 21, 2020, from https://lexia.yale.edu/research-science/ycdc-research/paying-attention-to-reading-the-neurobiology-of-reading-and-dyslexia/

5. The International Dyslexia Association (IDA). (2013). Dyslexia in the Classroom: What Every Teacher Needs to Know. Retrieved July 30, 2020, from https://dyslexiaida.org/

The International Dyslexia Association (IDA), & Guinevere ,Ph.D, F. E. (2020). Dyslexia and the Brain. Retrieved May 21, 2020, from https://dyslexiaida.org/dyslexia-and-the-brain/

6. Twardosz, S. (2012). Effects of Experience on the Brain: The Role of Neuroscience in Early Development and Education. Early Education & Development, 23(1), 96–119. https://doi.org/10.1080/10409289.2011.613735

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