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Health Watch/Katie Kolb

Dyslexia nothing to be ashamed of

August 4, 2011
The Daily Mining Gazette

In third grade children read fluently. I did not. An 8 year old enjoys going places and doing things, any activity that involves being with others.

They love school, playing with friend s and belonging. They don't like being singled out as different - but I was different. What was different about me then and still today is that I have dyslexia. Dyslexia is an impairment in your brain's ability to translate written images received from your eyes into meaningful language. More than 40 million Americans are dyslexic. It is the most common cause of reading, spelling and writing difficulty.

We who are dyslexic are an interesting group including such personalities as Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Tom Cruise, Cher, Charles Schwab and many more. As you can see from this list, in most cases people who are diagnosed with dyslexia have average to above average intelligence, but reading skills are significantly lower. Most people with dyslexia usually try to hide their disability. I normally don't tell people that I am dyslexic, but I'm writing about it today hoping to inform at least one family of a child who is struggling with reading that there is help and hope.

You can live a successful life with dyslexia, but you first have to identify the symptoms, get tested for the condition and then understand your rights as a person with a disability.

So, what are the symptoms? No two people with dyslexia are exactly alike, however, if someone is struggling with spelling, is a slow reader who has difficulty with sounding out unknown words and getting their thoughts down on paper in an acceptable form, it is worth getting the person tested for dyslexia. The dyslexic will appear bright, even highly intelligent with a high IQ and be articulate, but cannot read, write or spell. Left undiagnosed ,the dyslexic child will begin to feel dumb, have poor self esteem, become easily frustrated and emotional about school.

A parent of a dyslexic child will wonder how their talented child with so many positive attributes cannot read. The child may be talented in art, music, sports, mechanics and/or designing and will learn best through hands-on experience, demonstrations and observation. I was so lucky to have a supportive family and parents who recognized the problem early in my life.

I was first tested at 8 years old and began treatment. My parents provided a tutor for me specially trained in instructing dyslexic children in the Orton-Gillingham method of reading which includes the use of phonics. Medicines and counseling are usually not used to treat dyslexia. The earlier recognized and addressed the better.

Federal law requires that public schools create an Individualized Education Program that's tailored to the child's needs. Talk with your child's school to create a treatment team made up of you the parent, the teacher and other school personnel such as special education teachers. Accommodations must be made to allow the dyslexic child to succeed. These accommodations may include books on tape, a reader for tests or whatever else is necessary.

It is important to know that dyslexia is a lifelong condition. Even though early treatment during childhood will help, your child will always have to make an extra effort to read. The use of voice recognition software and other technology now available can help those who are dyslexic have a successful life and career.

Editor's note: Katie Kolb is the clinical information systems tech at Aspirus Keweenaw Home Health &?Hospice.



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