Letters that get confused, difficulties in learning the alphabet, frequent errors in reading, even of a few sentences: these are just some of the obstacles that a child with dyslexia faces when he begins to learn those activities, which for his peers are more and more easy and automatic. But what is dyslexia, symptoms and how to recognize it? How to recognize dyslexic child already in preschool age? Let’s find out together.
Dyslexia is one of the neurodevelopmental disorders known as SLD, or Specific Learning Disorders: SLDs involve a series of difficulties in the ability to read, write and do calculations that generally occur in the first years of school.
In the case of dyslexia, this disorder specifically affects reading which is incorrect, inaccurate, very slow and difficult to understand. Although permanent, obstacles to learning can be overcome thanks to certain approaches and methodologies.
It is good to keep in mind that dyslexia is not a disease, but like other ASDs, it is a neurodiversity : but what exactly does it mean?
Neurodiversity is not visible from the outside : it characterizes those who have a different way of processing information and therefore have an emotional, sensorial and cognitive perception with a different environment than the others.
In recognizing this disorder it is essential to make a first distinction between: acquired dyslexia and developmental dyslexia.
This type of dyslexia can also occur in old age and is caused by traumatic or pathological events, including head trauma and stroke, or by aging of the brain cells. Acquired dyslexia therefore involves a loss of reading ability in a subject who previously had normal ability.
It is a dyslexia present from birth and is not linked to any environmental, pathological or socio-educational cause. Learning difficulties are therefore linked to atypical neurological development: intelligence is not damaged in any way and there is no cognitive deficit.
Dyslexia, causes and main characteristics
The difficulties of a dyslexic are not linked to listlessness, little attention or poor ability, but to a different way of perceiving and learning: the child can read and write, but he can do it only by using his energies to the maximum.
However, as in the case of other ASDs, it is difficult to define a precise cause at the origin of dyslexia: it is agreed that this disorder has a hereditary nature and therefore tends to arise with more probability if it is already present in the family unit.
Let’s see together the main deficits or deficiencies that distinguish dyslexia.
1. Deficit in meta-phonological competence which includes the ability to:
- grasp the sequences of sounds
- recognize the sounds within words
- quickly remember object names
- remember sounds, letters and words in sequence
2. Deficit in the visual-perceptual processes that it includes
- feeling that the letters are crowding or moving on the paper
- general difficulty in recognizing visual stimuli
- difficulty in following the line
A feature of dyslexia is comorbidity: this means that it is often linked to other ASDs, such as dysgraphia or dyscalculia, or to other types of disorders (including ispraxias, behavioral disorders, ADHD, anxiety disorders and the like).
For example, very often the dyslexic child tends to report errors in reading even in writing.
Recognize Symptoms of dyslexia:
The symptoms that distinguish dyslexia are therefore:
- difficulty in memorizing the letters of the alphabet and confusing them (in particular, letters with similar visual characteristics, such as “p” and “q” or “d” and “b”, or with similar sounds, such as “v” and “f”);
- inaccuracy and slowness in reading;
- particular difficulty in reading aloud ;
- difficulty in understanding the text;
- difficulty recognizing words with similar sounds;
- particular difficulty in distinguishing nouns from prepositions.
Although dyslexia clearly manifests itself in school age, this disorder is already present: there are warning signs or bells that can indicate a suspicion of dyslexia.
Let’s see together the main ones, which distinguish the years before the start of school :
- delay in learning to speak;
- difficulty learning new words and expanding one’s vocabulary;
- difficulty in pronouncing some words, especially the longer and more complex ones;
- confusion in recognizing the meaning of some words;
- difficulty remembering objects or items in order;
- poor coordination in movements;
- difficulty learning certain skills, such as tying shoes.
It is important to remember that the learning process of children with dyslexia nevertheless has numerous strengths : they reason dynamically and have incredible flexibility of thought, they have a broader and more universal vision of what they learn, they learn very quickly from experience.
Obviously it is not enough for a child to have difficulty in reading to be defined as dyslexic. To diagnose dyslexia it is necessary to contact a specialist structure which, thanks to a multidisciplinary team, will take care of evaluating the child taking into account his specificities and needs.
Although the opinion of teachers is fundamental in identifying a suspected dyslexia, the diagnosis is made exclusively by professionals in the field. Child psychologists, neuropsychiatrists, therapists and pedagogists collaborate together to solve these issues.