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Dyslexia

What is dyslexia?

  • Dyslexia is a common “specific learning disability”.
  • The child has problems mastering school tasks despite
    • Putting in good effort
    • Having normal intelligence
    • Having adequate stimulation or learning instruction.
  • There is a basic problem in the way the brain works, that of connecting symbols (visual) and their sounds (auditory).
  • Problems include difficulties in
    • Reading
    • Writing
    • Comprehension
    • Spelling
    • Mathematics
  • There are no available statistics for Malaysia but it is estimated that 4% – 8 % of school going children have dyslexia.
  • More boys than girls are affected than girls.

What are the common features of dyslexia?

  1. Among preschoolers, they may have :
    • Delayed speech
    • Difficulties with pronunciation or rhymes
    • Problems writing their names
    • Difficulties in learning shapes or colours
    • Inability to retell events of a story  
  2. Among school going children, they may :
    • Fail to master school work like reading, writing, spelling or mathematics
    • Dislike reading books and avoid reading aloud in class
    • Have a tendency to reverse letters, words or numbers. e.g.:
      • 15 with 51
      • ‘Was’ with ‘saw’
      • ‘b’ with ‘d’
        • Lack coordination like having difficulties tying school shoelace
        • Be confused with time concept such as “yesterday”, “today”, “tomorrow”
        • Have difficulties in understanding, remembering or following instructions
        • Have tendency to misplace or lose school items or homework
    • Have a tendency to reverse letters, words or numbers. e.g.:
      • 15 with 51
      • ‘Was’ with ‘saw’
      • ‘b’ with ‘d’
        • Lack coordination like having difficulties tying school shoelace
        • Be confused with time concept such as “yesterday”, “today”, “tomorrow”
        • Have difficulties in understanding, remembering or following instructions
        • Have tendency to misplace or lose school items or homework

Are there any strengths with being dyslexics?

  • Gifted dyslexics include some famous politicians (e.g. Lee Kuan Yew), performers (e.g. Whoopi Goldberg), artists (e.g. Leonardo da Vinci) and scientists (e.g. Albert Einstein)
  • Some are very imaginative and creative
  • Many are multi-dimensional thinkers
  • They can also be very good with hand skills or sports

What are potential problems with dyslexics?

  • They are often mislabelled as lazy, stupid or slow
  • There is risk to a healthy self image as the child may develop poor self esteem
  • If detection and management are delayed, the child may develop
    • Emotional complications (eg depression)
    • Behavioural problems (eg oppositional, conduct problems)
    • Academic under-achievement (eg school drop-out)

How can children with dyslexia be helped?

A few strategies can be employed. They are :

  1. Helping the child and family cope and build the child’s self confidence
  2. Treatment of other associated problems such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  3. Maximising the child’s learning potential via
    • Speech therapy
    • Computer Assisted Auditory Training
    • Multisensory Approach (Using other senses to aid learning)
      • Touch senses e.g. sand paper tracing
      • Hearing senses e.g. musical rhythms or sound of words or letters
      • Feeling movements of lips
      • Writing letters or words
    • Multisensory Approach (Using other senses to aid learning)
      • Touch senses e.g. sand paper tracing
      • Hearing senses e.g. musical rhythms or sound of words or letters
      • Feeling movements of lips
      • Writing letters or words
  4. Remedial measures
    • Helping the child to master small units of information
    • Repetition during teaching (over-teaching)
    • Using video or audio tapes for learning  
  5. Rehabiltation :
    • Special programs may be available at certain special education centres.

Support groups

Persatuan Dyslexia Malaysia – 349 Jalan Ampang, 50450 Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur / Tel : 03-42651632 Email :  dyslexiamsia@gmail.com 

Semakan Akhir : 20 April 2012
Penulis : Dr. Aminah binti Kassim
Reviewed : Dr. Selvasingam Ratnasingam