Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyscalcula and related Dys-abilities
At one point, psychologists were creating more and more terms for these kinds of disabilities. Even Dysgraphia (problems with handwriting) can be divided into several categories. But recently, books seem to be lumping them together under the one term: Dyslexia.
Dyslexia: The Patchwork Quilt of abilities and disabilities
Similarly, if we could test ten thousand students who have been diagnosed with dyslexia, I don’t believe we would find any two students with exactly the same levels and kinds of problems. Dyslexia is not one problem, one difference in the brain but a complex combination of problems.
Here is a beginning list – but each of these could be further divided.
- inability to distinguish one letter from another
- inability to accurately copy the letters
- inability to remember the shape of each letter
- inability to associate letters and sounds
- poor fine motor skills for copying letters and words
- inability to blend letter sounds
- inability to remember the sequence of letters in a word -poor spelling
- inability to read words in the proper sequence
- inability to remember and understand the words they read
- inability to grasp the meaning of a sentence
- inability to understand abstract words and concepts
- poor memory
- poor sense of time – poor time management
- poor sense of direction including telling left and right
- poor coordination
- poor organization
- inability to understand and follow instructions
- poor vocabulary
- in math: inability to understand basic concepts like “multiply”
- inablitiy to understand word problems in math
- inability to remember math facts like multiplication tables
- inability to remember sequence of step to solve a problem
I remember when my son, Tony, was tested. The tester was puzzled because when they showed him a simple drawing of a house for several seconds, he could reproduce it accurately. When they showed him diagrams such as a triangle inside a square inside a circle, he also did well. But he was not able to copy a letter of the alphabet. He could remember pictures he could recognize and give a name to but letters apparently seemed to be random meaningless lines… and he was in third grade.
Tony could not remember names and shapes of letters or words, he couldn’t remember people’s names, and he couldn’t learn his spelling words, so you might conclude tha he had a poor memory. Actually, Tony’s memory in other areas was excellent, especially when related to science.
He couldn’t remember if he should borrow (in subtraction) from the left side or the right side, but he could find his way around Boston better that I could.
His math abilities were also strange. He loved math. He could close his eyes and give you the correct answer to a problem but he could not do the calculations on paper. Sometimes teachers paired him up with a student who could read but not understand math. The other boy read the problem to Tony who explained what it meant and what they had to do to solve it and often he knew what the answer should be, but the other boy needed to do the calculations.
You probably know most of the areas where you are weak, but to have more detailed information, you would need to be tested by a neurologist.
Problems in the classroom
Can’t Read Aloud: Most students who are dyslexic, even if they are are able to read, hate reading aloud. They are self-conscious about making what appear to be simple mistakes like reading “saw” instead of “was.”
Can’t Spell: Most students who are dyslexic, even if they learn to read, will continue to be poor spellers, although some do improve with practice. Most will also continue to have poor handwriting, although this, too, can be improved.
Can’t Take Notes: Most students who are dyslexic will have problems taking notes in class. If they do take notes, they often cannot read their own handwriting. They may learn more by careful listening without attempting to write anything down.
Hate Essay Questions: Most students who are dyslexic do poorly on essay questions, often needing to simplify their ideas so they can write them more easily. They also have difficulty writing term papers.
Can’t Read Long Assignments: Most students who are dyslexic may be able to read short assignments but cannot read a novel that has been assigned. The first homework Tony read for himself was a one-page assignment in chemistry. He told me that big words are easier to read than little ones. I think that listening in class made the information familiar and easier to read.
Probems solving Word Problems in Math: Most dyslexic students have problems with word problems because they involve reading, visualizing the proble, and abstract concepts as well as computation.