Dyslexia is the most common learning difficulty and affects between 5 to 15 percent of all children, with half of all special education students in a school being dyslexic. Even though the statistics of prevalence are high dyslexia is often ‘hidden’.
The difficulty is hidden, as children with dyslexia are often bright and demonstrate no outward sign until they learn to read. This often causes challenges for the dyslexic child, as their reading difficulties are ‘unexpected’ and are seen as having all the cognitive capability to be good readers. As a result of this perception dyslexic students are often undiagnosed, misdiagnosed or worse, labeled as ‘lazy’. Moreover, in an international school setting, the dyslexic child can often be overlooked due to issues with English as a second language and lack of appropriate assessment tools to distinguish between the two.
As the dyslexic child’s difficulties are often hidden they are not identified early enough. Without early identification and intervention before grade one, a dyslexic child has a 1 in 4 chance of reading at grade level by the end of elementary school. Whereas, the same child who receives structured, cumulative and multisensory instruction in kindergarten or grade one has a 90 to 95% chance of reading fluently by the end of elementary school (National Institute of Health, 2000). Early intervention is key to future academic success. Without early remedial intervention, the dyslexic child may develop lifelong learning blocks and a fear of learning, leading to low self-esteem and depression.
Dyslexia is a neurobiological difference; recent brain imaging research shows that dyslexic children do not use the same areas of the brain when performing reading tasks as their non dyslexic counterparts, and that the areas used when reading are inefficient in processing the elements of language required. The brains ‘wiring’ to the language areas of the brain are inactive; recent Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) studies have given us insightful information into the origin of the dyslexic child’s difficulty to read. Moreover, research has given us insight into the types of instruction that enhance the activation in the areas required for reading. Increasing numbers of studies have shown that a structured, cumulative and multi-sensory program, such as the Orton- Gillingham language program or other interventions based on this method of instruction, can re-organise the brains neural pathways so that the language areas required for reading efficiently increase in activation.
More information on multisensory language programs for dyslexics can be found at: www.dyslexiaida.org.
With so much at stake for the unidentified dyslexic child, awareness of the early warning signs of dyslexia and the best methods of instruction are key for future academic and lifelong achievement for dyslexic learners. Dyslexia doesn’t need to hold your child back. Equipped with the right tools, a dyslexic child can go back to the mainstream education system and be extremely successful.
With the aim of providing dyslexic children with the opportunity and appropriate tools, Dyslexia Thailand has established the only dyslexia programme in the Asia-Pacific region, based at St. Andrews International School Bangkok (Sukhumvit 71). The programmes is taught by highly qualified teachers, trained in Orton-Gillingham, the world number one, proven method of teaching for dyslexia.