David Perlstein, MD, MBA, FAAP
Dr. Perlstein received his Medical Degree from the University of Cincinnati and then completed his internship and residency in pediatrics at The New York Hospital, Cornell medical Center in New York City. After serving an additional year as Chief Pediatric Resident, he worked as a private practitioner and then was appointed Director of Ambulatory Pediatrics at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- What is dyslexia?
- What causes dyslexia? What are the different types of dyslexia?
- What are the signs and symptoms of dyslexia?
- What do parents do if they see these signs and symptoms?
- How is dyslexia diagnosed?
- What type of treatment is available for dyslexia?
- Dyslexia At A Glance
What causes dyslexia? What are the different types of dyslexia?
There are several types of dyslexia that can affect the child's ability to spell as well as read.
"Trauma dyslexia" usually occurs after some form of brain trauma or injury to the area of the brain that controls reading and writing. It is rarely seen in today's school-age population.
A second type of dyslexia is referred to as "primary dyslexia." This type of dyslexia is a dysfunction of, rather than damage to, the left side of the brain (cerebral cortex) and does not change with age. Individuals with this type are rarely able to read above a fourth-grade level and may struggle with reading, spelling, and writing as adults. Primary dyslexia is passed in family lines through their genes (hereditary). It is found more often in boys than in girls.
A third type of dyslexia is referred to as "secondary" or "developmental dyslexia" and is felt to be caused by hormonal development during the early stages of fetal development. Developmental dyslexia diminishes as the child matures. It is also more common in boys.
Dyslexia may affect several different functions. Visual dyslexia is characterized by number and letter reversals and the inability to write symbols in the correct sequence. Auditory dyslexia involves difficulty with sounds of letters or groups of letters. The sounds are perceived as jumbled or not heard correctly. "Dysgraphia" refers to the child's difficulty holding and controlling a pencil so that the correct markings can be made on the paper.
What are the signs and symptoms of dyslexia?
Classroom teachers may not be able to determine if a child has dyslexia. They may detect early signs that suggest further assessment by a psychologist or other health professional in order to actually diagnose the disorder. Letter and number reversals are the most common warning sign. Such reversals are fairly common up to the age of 7 or 8 and usually diminish by that time. If they do not, it may be appropriate to test for dyslexia or other learning problems. Difficulty copying from the board or a book can also suggest problems. There may be a general disorganization of written work. A child may not be able to remember content, even if it involves a favorite video or storybook. Problems with spatial relationships can extend beyond the classroom and be observed on the playground. The child may appear to be uncoordinated and have difficulty with organized sports or games. Difficulty with left and right is common, and often dominance for either hand has not been established. In the early grades, music and dance are often used to enhance academic learning. Children with dyslexia can have difficulty moving to the rhythm of the music.
Auditory problems in dyslexia encompass a variety of functions. Commonly, a child may have difficulty remembering or understanding what he hears. Recalling sequences of things or more than one command at a time can be difficult. Parts of words or parts of whole sentences may be missed, and words can come out sounding funny. The wrong word or a similar word may be used instead. Children struggling with this problem may know what they want to say but have trouble finding the actual words to express their thoughts.
Many subtle signs can be observed in children with dyslexia. Children may become withdrawn and appear to be depressed. They may begin to act out, drawing attention away from their learning difficulty. Problems with self-esteem can arise, and peer and sibling interactions can become strained. These children may lose their interest in school-related activities and appear to be unmotivated or lazy. The emotional symptoms and signs are just as important as the academic and require equal attention.
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