What is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia, also known as Reading Disorder, is a learning disorder that causes individuals difficulty with reading individual words or sentences and pronouncing words. Individuals with dyslexia can also struggle with other skills related to reading, such as reading comprehension, spelling, and writing. The disorder is typically identified in early childhood, when children begin to learn letter sounds and other pre-reading and reading skills, but issues with reading can remain through adulthood if left untreated.
At its core, dyslexia is a disorder of phonological awareness (the ability to recognize and manipulate the sound properties of spoken words) and more specifically phonemic awareness (the ability to recognize and manipulate individual phonemes (sounds) in spoken words). Dyslexia is caused by particular ways that the brain develops and processes information causing a chain reaction of events that occur at the neurological level. The individual with dyslexia has difficulty understanding the speech sounds in a word, understanding how individual letters represent a sound, and being able to put the sounds together to read or say the word. This process is also known as phonological awareness and it is the primary difficulty that characterizes dyslexia. There are specific regions of the brain that control these processes, but the brain of an individual with dyslexia functions differently in those areas.
Individuals with dyslexia can be talented or even gifted in other areas and subjects and oftentimes have special skills and abilities in the arts, sciences, math, computers, technology, music, business, sales, and sports. Nowadays, teachers and academic staff are better educated on identifying and providing assistance for children with dyslexia, but as recent as a few decades ago, children with dyslexia were considered to have intellectual problems, behavioral issues, or were called lazy by teachers, academic staff, and/or parents/caretakers. Children with dyslexia were not screened properly and were not provided the appropriate interventions, causing them to fall behind in other subjects.
Fortunately, research on dyslexia has made great advancements, contributing to improved assessment methods, the provision of accommodations in the classroom, and alternative methods of teaching children with dyslexia how to not only learn to read, but also to enjoy reading. Current research shows that with the right treatment substantial improvements can be made in improving reading and reading efficiency. At PNA we use the most current research to both accurately assess and effectively and successfully treat dyslexia.