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DYSLEXIA

Many people are aware of the term Dyslexia and associate it with reading difficulties. The British Dyslexia Association describes Dyslexia as ‘a learning difference which primarily affects reading and writing skills’.

While difficulties in reading and writing are present in children with Dyslexia, they are by no means the only problems these people can experience. While the phonological components of literacy are often a key area for remediation of Dyslexia many people experience difficulties with visual perception and processing which is also an important area to be addressed.

The British Dyslexia Association notes that ‘Dyslexia is actually about information processing’ and that people with Dyslexia may have ‘difficulty processing and remembering information they see and hear, which can affect learning and the acquisition of literacy skills’.

Dyslexia can also impact on other areas such as social-emotional development and organisational skills.

It is also important to recognise that there are positive aspects to thinking differently and people with Dyslexia can how strengths in areas such as reasoning and in visual and creative fields (British Dyslexia Association).

Based on the definition by The International Dyslexia Association, Dyslexia is described as:

  • neurobiological in origin (caused by genetic or biological factors that influence the development of the brain),
  • being characterised by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition, poor spelling, and decoding abilities (turning symbols into meaningful language),
  • typically resulting from a deficit in the phonological component of language (processing of sounds in words),
  • being unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and provision of effective classroom instruction.

It is important to note that Dyslexia is NOT caused by:

  • Poor parenting
  • Lack of access to reading materials
  • Laziness/Lack of effort
  • Low Intelligence
  • A behaviour problem
  • Difficulties with vision or hearing

DYSGRAPHIA

The International Dyslexia Association describes Dysgraphia as ‘a condition of impaired letter writing by hand’ and indicate that it can impact handwriting, spelling or both.

Dysgraphia can be characterised by:

  • Poor letter formation
  • Difficulties maintaining letter size
  • Incorrect use of lower and upper case letters
  • Inconsistent or poor spacing/alignment/slant of letters
  • Slow writing pace
  • Difficulties with grammar and structure
  • Reluctance to write
  • Spelling difficulties/orthographic coding (related to the storing of letter patterns)

Dysgraphia can be linked to difficulties  with short term memory, sequencing, fine motor skills, and visual perception (including discrimination, memory, and spatial concepts).

People with Dysgraphia often describe difficulties getting their ideas on paper and can find it easier to communicate their ideas verbally.

DYSCALCULIA

The Department of Education UK (2001) described Dyscalculia as “a condition that affects the ability to acquire mathematical skills”.

Meta-analysis conducted by Karagianakkis, Baccaglini-Frank, and Papadatos (2014) indicated that   Mathematical Learning Difficulties generally describes a wide variety of deficits in math skills, relating to arithmetic and mathematical problem solving. Their article proposes four subtypes involved in mathematical difficulties:

  • Core number
  • Memory (retrieval and processing)
  • Reasoning
  • Visual Spatial

Anna Wilson notes that delays in counting, delays in using counting for addition, and difficulties in memorising arithmetic facts have been established by research as symptoms of Dyscalculia. See http://www.aboutdyscalculia.org/symptoms.html for more information.

Judy Hornigold describes these difficulties as being characteristic of Dyscalculia:

  • Has difficulty with the direct retrieval of number facts.
  • Makes counting errors
  • Reliance on immature strategies such as finger counting and makes errors with these
  • Slow speed of processing of numerical information
  • Inability to estimate
  • Has poor knowledge of the worth or value of a number
  • Has poor grasp of procedures and concepts
  • Poor sequential memory for numbers and operations
  • Cannot see patterns in numbers e.g. if 10, 20, 30, 40 then 12, 22, 32, 42
  • Poor grasp of the 10s base of the number system
  • Has trouble moving up and down the number-line or number square

For more information see: judyhornigold.co.uk