According to the British Dyslexia Association ,Dyslexia is a LEARNING DIFFICULTY that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling. B.D.A describes Dyslexia as mainly characterized by;
Difficulties in phonological awareness, verbal memory and verbal processing speed occurring across the range of intellectual abilities. Furthermore; Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty that mainly affects the development of literacy and language related skills. It is likely to be present at birth and to be life-long in its effects. In addition to these characteristics, the BDA acknowledges the visual and auditory processing difficulties that some individuals with dyslexia experience, and points out that dyslexic readers can show a combination of abilities and difficulties that affect the learning process. Its in the class of ADHD (Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder) and Autism i.e a learning difficulty/disorder.
In Nigeria, dyslexia is a huge mystery thus this write-up. It’s a condition with no agreed known cure or treatment, it is only managed through specialized tutoring or specialized education program as well emotional support which also plays an important role. Many families in Nigeria struggles with how to handle children with dyslexia, others are not even aware that such a condition is in existence, many of such families seek spiritual help from wrong sources. This is indeed a rare and uncommon diagnosis in Nigeria. A care giver is likely to conclude ‘the pikin no know book’ others tag such kids as ‘olodo’ or ‘ogbanje ’etc. Top of it all is the scarceness of special schools and education specialists.
Before i go into the history, causes and recommendations for dyslexia management, I would like to point out individuals who have this condition but ended up great! Very great! They are so many but i would just mention but a few notable names;
Actors & Entertainers:
• Jennifer Aniston
• Orlando Bloom
• Harry Belafonte
• Jim Carrey
• Danny Glover
• Whoopi Goldberg
Inventors & Scientists:
• Pierre Curie, Physicist (1903 Nobel Prize).
• Thomas Edison.
• Albert Einstein
.• Michael Faraday.
Artists, Designers, & Architects:
• Leonardo da Vinci.
• Tommy Hilfiger, Clothing Designer..
• Pablo Picasso.
• Jørn Utzon (architect, designed Sydney Opera house)
Entrepreneurs & Business Leaders:
• Richard Branson,Founder of Virgin Enterprises.
• John T Chambers,CEO of Cisco Systems.
• Henry Ford.
• William Hewlett, Co-Founder, Hewlett-Packard.
• Ted Turner, President, Turner Broadcasting Systems.
• Robert Woodruff, President of Coca-Cola, 1923-1954.
• Robert Benton..
• Walt Disney.
• Steven Spielberg
Writers & Journalists:
• Jeanne Betancourt, (Author of “My Name is Brain Brian”).
• Stephen Cannell, television writer & novelist.
• Elizabeth Daniels Squire(author of mystery novels).
• Jane Elson, children’s author and playwright.
• Sally Gardner, children’s writer and illustrator.
a child with the condition will do even far better than these names, if properly managed and given the right emotional support, but there has to be more awareness and enlightenment about DYSLEXIA.
History of Dyslexia
Despite only a fairly recent move to prominence the understanding of dyslexia began in the late 19th century. Societal interest in people with reading difficulties probably began in 1878 with Adolph Kussmaul, a German neurologist. He had a special interest in adults with reading problems who also had neurological impairment. He noticed that several of his patients could not read properly and regularly used words in the wrong order. He introduced the term ‘word blindness’ to describe their difficulties. In 1887, a German ophthalmologist, Rudolf Berlin, was the first to use the word ‘dyslexia’ in place of word blindness. The condition was described as ‘dyslexia’, from the Greek meaning ‘difficulty with words’.
The first case of developmental dyslexia was reported by Pringle-Morgan in the British Medical Journal on 7 November 1896.
Pringle-Morgan, a general practitioner, and Hinshelwood, an ophthalmologist also writing at the turn of the century, speculated that such difficulties with reading and writing were due to “congenital word blindness,” and for many years the dominant view was that dyslexia was caused by visual processing deficiencies.
In 1925, an American neurologist, Dr. Samuel T. Orton proposed the first theory of how specific reading difficulty arose. He placed a great emphasis on the dominance of one side of the brain. Teaching strategies he developed during his research are still in use today.
Numerous forms of specific learning difficulty were being studied during this period but became widely recognised in 1939 when Dr. Alfred Struss and R. Heinz Werner published their findings on children with a wide range of learning difficulties. Their work emphasised the variety of these problems and the importance of individually assessing each child’s particular educational needs.
It was not until the mid-twentieth century that children with specific literacy difficulties began to be no longer considered to be under the jurisdiction of medicine. Educational and psychological research began to accumulate at this time, broadening understanding and refining concepts of child development.
Causes of dyslexia
Although there are several causes of dyslexia, it is generally agreed by researchers (e.g. McCandliss et al and Nobel 2003, Czepita et al 2006, Martins et al 2010) that dyslexia is caused primarily by impairment in the brains ability to translate image received from the eyes or ears into understandable language. It does not result from vision or hearing problems. Dyslexia is not due to mental retardation, brain damage or lack of intelligence. Other causes of dyslexia according to researchers is as a result of slowness or failure of language to lateralize to the left hemisphere. The failure may be due to physiological abnormality, or to the child‘s assumption that he or she will fail or lack motivation. There is also the possibility of neural immaturity; the brain is lateralized, but as a result of slowness in development in the language area of the left hemisphere, the child has difficulty in learning to read. (Kinsborne and Hiscook in Osa-Afina 2003) Some children with dyslexia show no handicap of neurological, intellectual causes. However, researchers (Smith, Kimberling, Pennington and Lub 1993) are of the view that dyslexia has a genetic basis. Studies on twins indicate that there is a heritable component of dyslexia. Also brain abnormalities, possibly heritable may be connected to dyslexia. Autopsies of the brains of right handed individuals with childhood dyslexia have revealed microscopic abnormalities in the area of number and organization of neurons especially on the left side of the brain in what is called the posterior language area of the cortex (Grigorenko 2001, Galaburda and Cestnick 2003). Copyright © IAARR 2012: http://www.afrrevjo.net 262 Indexed African Journals Online: http://www.ajol.info
Apart from the foregoing dyslexia can be caused as a result of factors within the home and school. A number of researchers (e.g. Ikediashi and Iroegbu 1998, Ganzach 2000, Kalogo 2002 and Ikediashi 2010) agree that the family (home) environment and the school to a large extent affect academic performance of children in school. Studies by (Kalogo 2002) have shown that the family oriented variables relate significantly to the behaviour and academic performance of the child. For example, children from middle class families who had better home environments performs better in school work, stay longer in school when compared with children from poor background. Their signs and problem of dyslexia may be better diagnosed and possibly better handled. Similarly, the school and indeed certain aspect of its culture may pre-dispose a child to dyslexia. There are many tensions in school life. The school compels a child to adjust to strange children, unfamiliar teachers etc. The school also compels the child to perform tasks that it may find difficult. Also schools where the teacher is ill trained, lack the necessary basic and instructional techniques to teach may aggravate a child‘s personal struggle with his fear of school. The result is that some of these children may find it very difficult to adjust to the school schedule
i. As regards suggestions for intervention programmes, there is need for the teacher to make judicious use of reinforcement strategies. Reinforcement should be given for efforts as well as achievements. The teacher‘s instructional strategies should elicit self-esteem, love, and responsibility on the part of the child.
ii. The teacher should make optimal use of meaningful learning materials in teaching. This makes for intrinsic motivation in which school becomes more meaningful to the dyslexic than mere rigid regulations. Since the academic demand on a child with dyslexia may be great, there should be frequent breaks in class and homework time. There should also be regular meetings of parents and teachers in order to have a framework for a common forum to discuss and possibly identify problems of pupils as well as help in the mutual process of child‘s training for optimal productivity. .
iii. Appropriate screening and identification test instrument should be made available to schools to help in early identification and referrals to special schools in severe cases
iv. A consortium approach involving specialist in educational psychology, medical neurology special education linguists (e.g speech therapist) etc may make the optimal combination.
v. Workshops on dyslexic children needs to be held among school teachers in Nigeria to help them understood these unique pupils the more and thus modifying their learning needs appropriately
Dyslexia: Causes, Management and Implications… Copyright © IAARR 2012: http://www.afrrevjo.net/263