What is Dyslexia ??

Dyslexia is a difficulty with language. There have been many definitions of Dyslexia, however the following explanation from the US Orton Society, presents a good summary:

Dyslexia is a neurologically based, often familial, disorder which interferes with the acquisition and processing of language. Varying in degrees of severity, it is manifested by difficulties in receptive and expressive language, including phonological processing, in reading, writing, spelling, handwriting and sometimes in arithmetic.

Dyslexia is observed in individuals of otherwise normal intellectual functioning who have not learned to read and spell despite exposure to adequate teaching.

Common signs of Childhood Dyslexia

  • Family history of reading problems
  • Average or Above Average intelligence
  • No enjoyment of reading as a leisure activity

Dyslexic symptoms may first be exhibited in kindergarten:

  • Delayed speech acquisition
  • Difficulty pronouncing words
  • Difficulty with rhyming
  • Difficulty with sequencing i.e. learning the alphabet, days of the week
  • Unable to follow more than one instruction at a time
  • Delayed fine-motor skills

Dyslexic Symptoms may not be noticed until formal schooling:

  • Difficulty decoding isolated words
  • Delayed acquisition of letter-sounds
  • Consistent reading and spelling errors including letter reversals d for b
  • May have difficulty learning the time
  • May have poor fine-motor co-ordination

Dyslexic symptoms in the older child may include:

  • Reading below grade level
  • Difficulty spelling
  • May avoid reading and writing tasks
  • May use phonetic substitutions such as: pressure for pleasure
  • May substitute words with like meaning i.e.: train  for bike
  • May misread phonetic words i.e.: sut for study
  • May displace stress i.e.: cha-rac-ter for character
  • May use syllable reversals i.e.: meridial for remedial
  • May have difficulty in sequencing and reverse letter-order i.e.: porgam for program
  • Typical spelling errors are good phonetic equivalents of the dictated words i.e.: qwit for quit
  • May read slowly, as if seeing the word for the first time.

How is Dyslexia Diagnosed

The diagnosis of Dyslexia usually begins with an awareness by parents or teachers that a reading / spelling difficulty exists. Parents may observe their child having trouble expressing themselves clearly in speaking i.e. “finding the right words” or in writing and may have difficulty understanding what others say to them. Parents may also observe their child protesting that they don’t want to go to school, perhaps exhibiting somatic complaints such as, stomachache, headache or other symptoms.

Teachers may observe reading and spelling ability below grade level. Kids Children with Dyslexia often feel frustrated and anxious at school. They may feel  embarrassed when unable to answer correctly when the teacher calls on them, and even develop low self esteem as their reading and spelling difficulties become obvious to others as they struggle to improve at the same rate as their peers.

A physician is often the first person to examine the child suspected of having Dyslexia, so that any physical problems can be ruled out. If Dyslexia is still suspected, further evaluation and management strategies by a specialist in psycho-educational diagnosis, is recommended.

Assessment by a Psychologist

Thorough assessment by a qualified psychologist allows the identification of the individuals specific difficulties with Dyslexia and subsequently suggestions of appropriate management strategies. Usually, the Psychologist will utilise a battery of several psycho-educational assessment instruments to identify strengths and weaknesses pertaining to the individuals intellectual, achievement and cognitive abilities.  The assessment of language, memory, and visual and auditory perception  are some such examples of possible cognitive requirements.

Assessment by a Psychologist usually spans over five to six weeks, consisting of one assessment session per week of approximately one hour in length.

Facts about Dyslexia

Approximately 15 – 20 percent of the population has a reading disability.

Dyslexia is the most common cause of reading writing and spelling difficulties

Individuals inherit the genetic links for Dyslexia

Child & Adolescent Depression

The startling facts are:

  • 7 – 9% of children will experience an episode of major depression before the age of 14 and as many as 20% before leaving school.
  • Out of 100,000 adolescents, 2,000-3,000 will have mood disorders out of which 8-10 commit suicide.
  • The life-time prevalence of major depressive disorder in adolescents has been estimated to range from 15 to 20%.
  • The prevalence in childhood of depression is 2%.
  • Depression will change from its current fourth ranked cause of disability and premature deaths world-wide to become second by 2020.
  • Whilst acknowledging that those affected should be treated, the fact is only a small proportion of depressed adolescents are identified, and of those who are identified, many are either inappropriately managed or not managed at all.

The Causes of Childhood and Adolescent Depression

The biological markers that are associated with adult depression are not consistently found in adolescents.  Predisposition to depression is not readily identified, however, most studies have established that having a depressed parent is a major risk factor for depression.  A child of a depressed parent is three times more likely to become depressed.

Increased risk due to a combination of:

  • Genetic predisposition to depression
  • Low family cohesion and expression
  • Economic hardship
  • Family conflict and divorce
  • Emotional unavailability of parents, and
  • The emergence of a youth culture that has encouraged isolation from parents and greater reliance on, and acceptance from, a peer group.


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