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Dyslexia definition

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Cliff Weitzman
By Cliff Weitzman Dyslexia & Accessibility Advocate, CEO/Founder of Speechify in Bibliophiles on June 27, 2022
Have you ever wanted to know more about dyslexia? If so, read on for a definition of dyslexia, the signs of this learning disorder, and treatment methods.

    Dyslexia affects one in five adults and causes severe learning difficulties. But what is this condition, and how do you treat it?

    Let’s explore the definition of dyslexia and other vital aspects of this disorder.

    What to know about dyslexia

    Dyslexia is a specific learning disorder that originates from neurobiological issues. Sufferers struggle to recognize written words and also have trouble decoding and spelling certain words.

    These problems generally stem from deficits in the phonological components of a language, but usually develop independently of other cognitive abilities and classroom instructions.

    Dyslexia is caused by individual differences in areas of the brain that enable reading. A family history of dyslexia or other learning disabilities (dysgraphia, dyscalculia, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)) are associated with this condition.

    Another thing to remember is that dyslexia doesn’t make people less intelligent than their peers. On the contrary, sufferers can be exceptionally bright.

    Their brains are wired differently, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Dyslexics think out of the box, which can make them more creative than other people.

    Often, they have enhanced problem-solving skills despite their poor spelling, difficulty learning, and struggles with word reading.

    This also brings us to another sign of dyslexia – a mismatch between extraordinary non-reading capabilities and the inability to read and learn as fast as other people. 

    The good news is that dyslexic individuals can overcome these problems with systematic instructions.

    The learning difficulties dyslexia causes

    The biggest problem associated with dyslexia is limited phonological awareness. This skill enables you to perceive and manipulate individual sounds that make up words. Without them, you would have reading difficulties and reduced reading fluency.

    Sufferers may also have trouble rhyming words. In particular, dyslexic children have a hard time rhyming (e.g., cat, bat, rat, mat) and avoid these tasks as they can lower their self-esteem.

    Another problem dyslexics face is separating individual syllables or sounds from each other. For example, some people with this learning disability may struggle to say “Land” without uttering “L.”

    Determining speech sounds can also be challenging for people with developmental dyslexia.

    Professionals often use the word ‘sleigh’ to test for this condition. It’s spelled with six letters but only contains three sounds. If a child or adult consistently uses more than three sounds, they might be dyslexic.

    Besides impaired phonemic awareness, dyslexic individuals can have problems with rapid word and letter recall. This ability is also known as RAN (rapid automatic naming). It enables you to read fluently by identifying words quickly.

    Difficulties with fluent reading and RAN can hinder reading comprehension. The reason is simple – if you struggle to read, you get tired. By the time you finish a section or an entire text, you’ve forgotten what you read.

    As a result, you have to re-read certain sections, which brings us to another challenge of dyslexia – reading slower than your peers. This is a significant issue at any age.

    For students, it stops them from mastering certain subjects as quickly as their classmates and impairs human development. For adults, it prevents them from completing workplace assignments on time.

    Finally, dyslexics can have impaired fine motor skills, especially movements using the small muscles in your wrists and hands. This can negatively affect your performance in various areas:

    • Math
    • Organizational skills
    • Memory
    • Reading ability
    • Phonological processing
    • Study skills
    • Self-esteem
    • Handwriting
    • Everyday activities

    How to help an adult or child learn with dyslexia

    There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to alleviating dyslexia. Everyone’s needs are different, and there are numerous causes of dyslexia. Still, most forms of treatment have a lot in common.

    For instance, dyslexic students should qualify for special education accommodations. As demonstrated by Sally Shaywitz, a professor of pediatrics, dyslexia robs people of time. Accommodations can address the balance.

    This remediation strategy is incredibly supportive. Students of different ages can enjoy numerous benefits:

    • Recording lectures for later revision
    • Quiet workspace
    • Additional time on tests
    • Using audiobooks instead of reading
    • Typing on a tablet or computer rather than writing
    • Relying on apps that turn decoding into games

    There are many other ways to help dyslexic students and adults. Anyone suffering from this impairment should be encouraged to perform the activities they enjoy, like sports and dancing.

    Emotional support is essential too.

    Dyslexia often leads to low self-confidence or embarrassment. Dyslexics also feel frustrated they have trouble doing things others perform effortlessly.

    Consequently, sufferers should discuss their disorder with their parents or doctor to become more resilient. These conversations can demystify the learning disorder and reveal new ways to manage it, both in social circumstances and in school.

    Furthermore, the International Dyslexia Association, New York Educational System, and other relevant organizations recommend dyslexics discuss their specific learning disability with their families and professionals.

    If they struggle to read signs, copy notes, or understand instructions from their coworkers, they shouldn’t be criticized.

    Instead, these people need support to cope with their reading disorders.

    Moreover, if you work with dyslexic individuals, you should acknowledge and celebrate their hard work, even if they make mistakes.

    This is especially important for children. Recognize their reading skills and development (despite minimal background knowledge) and be proud of their efforts.

    Lastly, don’t let them think dyslexia will keep them from living a successful life. Share stories about Whoopi Goldberg, Steven Spielberg, and other famous people who’ve achieved great things despite the disorder.

    Use Speechify’s text to speech tools to help accommodate and support people with dyslexia

    The founder of Speechify, Cliff Weitzman, is also a dyslexic. At school, he was so aware of his reading problem and struggles with fluent word recognition, he would often hide in the bathroom to avoid reading aloud.

    He thought he was dumb, broken, and lazy. But the day he was diagnosed was the happiest day of his life.

    He learned there was a problem that he could fix.

    His father bought him an audiobook that allowed him to understand text without reading it. He also had supportive teachers who helped him manage his condition.

    You can do the same with robust text to speech software – Speechify. The app was specifically designed for dyslexic people, offering numerous features for managing the disorder.

    Primarily, they use a multisensory approach. Combining visual, kinesthetic, and auditory methods, the app can stimulate learning and help you cope with your reading disability.

    Get in touch with us to find out more about Speechify’s text to speech capabilities.

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    Cliff Weitzman

    Cliff Weitzman

    Cliff Weitzman is a dyslexia advocate and the CEO and founder of Speechify, the #1 text-to-speech app in the world, totaling over 100,000 5-star reviews and ranking first place in the App Store for the News & Magazines category. In 2017, Weitzman was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list for his work making the internet more accessible to people with learning disabilities. Cliff Weitzman has been featured in EdSurge, Inc., PC Mag, Entrepreneur, Mashable, among other leading outlets.

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