Dyslexia is a specific learning disability of neurobiological origin. It is characterized by difficulty in the secure and/or fluent recognition of words and by low ability in spelling and decoding.
These difficulties may be accompanied by a deficit in the phonological component of language, unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience, thus poor vocabulary and general knowledge.
It is important to rule out auditory, visual or emotional difficulties.
How do we know a child is dyslexic?
To diagnose dyslexia in a patient it is necessary to perform a neuropsychological assessment that includes information on excluding factors such as intellectual level, sociocultural opportunity, adequate education, as well as specific symptomatology: decoding, fluency, phonological skills, verbal memory and spelling.
It is very important to assess other areas that may be affected in order to plan an adequate treatment, such as academic performance in mathematics to observe commitment or discrepancy in reading and writing skills.
In order to establish an early diagnosis it is necessary that the child is older than 7 or 8 years old to differentiate whether it is a delay or a disorder.
Dyslexia treatment and patient evolution
Although the cognitive deficit caused by dyslexia will persist throughout life, its consequences and expectations will vary significantly. Therefore, any intervention by the speech therapist aimed at improving reading ability, finding alternative strategies for the evaluation of learning and respect for intelligence and areas of undisputed talent, will have a decisive impact on the quality of life and social integration of the dyslexic.
Importance of early diagnosis of dyslexia
Early intervention in metalinguistic skills is very important, especially with phonological training programs. It is advisable to work with children who are at risk of establishing dyslexia, not to wait for it to become established. Emotional aspects will be less significant if frustrations derived from poor reading ability can be avoided.
Dyslexia prevention is possible
Preventive intervention can be carried out by stimulating cognitive abilities and pre-reading skills that directly influence the learning of reading and writing. University studies support that 25% of children will present difficulties in learning to read and write, of which only 5% to 10% are considered dyslexic.
If phonological and letter recognition learning is facilitated early, before the onset of reading, it is possible to decrease the level of risk for reading difficulties, prevent many children who would otherwise have difficulty, and decrease later compromise in the reading skills of dyslexic children (Ball & Blachman, 1991).