Dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyspraxia, dyscalculia. These are examples of learning difficulties.
Some are seen often, while others are more obscure. However, all fall under a spectrum of impairments that people all over the world live with.
According to the Dyslexia Center of Utah, one in five students suffer from a language based debility. Nearly the same amount of men and women have dyslexia.
Dyslexia is actually a general term, covering anything that involves difficulty with reading or interpreting words, numbers, and other symbols.
Dyslexia does not affect general intelligence, but makes learning in a traditional system more of a challenge.
Symptoms of dyslexia vary between people, ages, and years in school. According to Yale University, preschool children with dyslexia have trouble memorizing nursery rhymes, difficulty with recognizing letters, struggle with recognizing verbal patterns such as “cat, bat, rat,” as well as other symptoms.
During the second grade and on, symptoms of dyslexia include slow and awkward reading, using lots of verbal pauses such as “um,” messy handwriting and low self-esteem, and has trouble listing items. Though it may not seem like it, there are strengths associated with dyslexia.
Big picture thinking is a skill that takes a long period of time for children to develop. Dyslexic children and adults develop the skill early on. Dyslexic individuals have a notable strength of resilience and an ability to adapt. After having to adapt for so many years, the ability to acclimate becomes second nature.
In an article on the Huffington Post website, a teen with dyslexia recalls the first grade, when she realized she was dyslexic. She discusses being bullied by her peers, being told that she was stupid and could read. She continued to feel ashamed and silly as she learned to read.
In another article posted on the Davis Dyslexia webpage, a high school principle describes his child”s fight with dyslexia. He discusses the blows to his son”s self-esteem as he battled with reading and writing.
In another article on the Huffington Post, a mom talks about her daughter”s struggle. In kindergarten, her daughter was diagnosed with ADHD and had warning signs of dyslexia. She was an easy target for bullying during her first few years of school.
These stories all show patterns that those with dyslexia experience. Bullying from peers is common. Feeling inadequate and stupid is common. Struggling as one tries to read and understand is common. Living with dyslexia is difficult in more areas than simply reading.
Dyslexia, or any learning impairment, is not a joke. It is not meant to be treated as a disability or as an excuse. It is a difficulty that individuals have to handle every day.
There are skills that can be learned to handle dyslexia, such as learning techniques geared toward whatever trouble areas are experienced. For those with dyslexia and for those living with dyslexic individuals, patience is key.
Dyslexia is a learning impairment, not a reflection of one”s general knowledge. Know that, despite impairments, every person has the potential for greatness.
Mary Phipps can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org