Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D
Information regarding many of dyslexia is mainly extracted from Stephen M. Kosslyn and Oliver Koeuig (1990). Wet Mind: The New Cognitive Neuroscience, New York, The Free Press (pp.185-207)
October is Learning Disabilities Month, a time to celebrate achievements of learning disabled individuals and expand our awareness of the causes and effects of learning disabilities. One major learning disability is, "reading disability," also referred to as, "dyslexia " The word dyslexia is made of two Greek words, "dys," meaning, hard or poor, and "lexis," that is, speech or words. Therefore, dyslexia refers to a marked difficulty in reading and/or understanding that which one reads. For example, a dyslexic person may misread the word, "dyslexia," as "lysdexia." The reading pattern of a dyslexic is characterized by omissions, distortions, or substitutions of letters or words. Dyslexics read slowly and haltingly as they struggle with the task of reading.
A mentally retarded person also has difficulty in reading and comprehension, but that is because of mental retardation. That is not dyslexia. Dyslexia is diagnosed when mental retardation, inadequate schooling, poor vision, or a hearing defect cannot explain a person's reading problem. It is estimated that one in five children have difficulty in reading, but, only about 2 to 8% have true dyslexia. There are several variations of Dyslexia. In this article, I will list a few.
In Literal Dyslexia, also referred to as, "Letter Blindness," a person has difficulty in identifying letters, matching upper case letters with lowercase, naming letters, or matching sounds with the corresponding letters. In Word Dyslexia, a person may read individual letters of the word but not the word itself, or read a word, but, not understand the meaning of the word. Some dyslexics may read words partially. For example, a person may read the word, "lice," as, "ice" or as, "like." The person may realize that these are incorrect, but cannot read those words correctly. Some dyslexics do better by moving their finger along the outline of a word or, by tracing the letters in the air.
In Phonological Dyslexia, a person has difficulty in converting letters to their sounds. They can read words that are already familiar to them, but have trouble reading unfamiliar or novel words. They also have difficulty in reading a nonword such as, "tord." They may misread this nonword as a real word that looks similar. They sometime also misread actual words as other ones that look similar. The word, "shut" may pose this particular problem, much to a listener's dismay.
In Neglect Dyslexia, a person neglects either the left or the right side of words, a problem particularly highlighted in reading long words. For example, if asked to read, "strowt," he or she may read it as, "owt." Given a word such as, "alphabetically," persons with this particular form of dyslexia will miss some of the first few letters. For example, they may read it simply as, "betically." There may be a problem with compound words. For example, a compound word such as, "cowboy' may be read partially, as, "cow" or "boy."
In Semantic Dyslexia, a person distorts the meaning of a word or incorrectly reads a word because of the confusion in the meaning of the given word. People with semantic dyslexia may say an antonym, synonym, or a subordinate of a word instead of the word proper. For example, they may misread, "dog," as "cat" or "fox." They may misread, "twist" as "twisted" or "buy" as "bought." Some have trouble reading function words such as, "of," "an," "not,'' and "and."
In Spelling Dyslexia, a person may have a problem reading all types of words and sometimes have trouble identifying individual letters. Their reading is extremely slow and hesitant, particularly on long words. While a normal reader takes about 30 milliseconds for reading each additional letter, a spelling dyslexic may take about a second to do the same. Some dyslexics tend to read words, one letter at a time, even if those are short and familiar.
In Dyslexia Without Dysgraphia, a person has problem in reading but not in writing. Sometimes, it is referred to as, "Pure Dyslexia." Some have trouble doing written arithmetic because they have to read the text and the numbers, but the same people may not have any problem in doing spoken arithmetic. Dyslexia Without Dysgraphia may never be identified, because, to confuse the matters, a person may have a nearly normal oral language and, his or her writing and oral spelling may be virtually unimpaired.
In Dyslexia With Dysgraphia, also referred to as, "Deep Dyslexia," a person has a problem in writing letters and words, grasping word-meanings, integrating the sounds of letters, and in pronouncing unfamiliar, and sometimes, even familiar words. People in this category face the biggest challenge and need our closest attention for educational and career planning.
Therefore, we can conclude that instead of dyslexia, there are "dyslexias," and all dyslexias are not created equal. A careful analysis must be carried out to help a reader, as early in the game, as possible.
**This article was written around 1996. Readers may update their information by reviewing current information on dyslexia.
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1996, Mind Publications