Learning means acquiring new or modifying or enhancing existing skills, values, knowledge, preference or behaviour by means of synchronising information. Learning is a process where what is already known is built up on and given a shape.
Human learning occurs as part of personal development, school, training or education. The study that states how learning occurs is included in neuropsychology, learning theory and educational psychology. It may be possible that learning occurs due to classical conditioning or habituation, and with or without conscious awareness.
As opined by Levete (2007), learning difficulty affects the way a person learns. It may not be just pertaining to school but could be from any area of life. It affects the way a person understands information provided and how they communicate their own thoughts and feelings. The difficulties may involve understanding complex or new information, learning new skills, independent coping of situations and occurrences, etc.
Learning difficulty is a general term that is used for varied conditions with diversified symptoms and severities. Dyslexia is a well recognised name, while the lesser known ones include Asperger’s Syndrome, Dyspraxia, etc.
Dyslexia is associated with the difficulty pertaining to learning to read fluently with accurate comprehension even though the individual possesses normal intelligence. Difficulty with phonological awareness and decoding, rapid naming, speed processing, auditory short term memory, language skills, orthographic coding, verbal comprehension are included in this.
The three proposed cognitive subtypes of Dyslexia includes auditory, attentional and visual. According to research literature, Dyslexia is considered to be a receptive language based learning difficulty and also affects the expressive language skills of individuals, (Reid 2007).
SIGNS OF DYSLEXIA
Pre School Years
· Poor language of expression
· Poor skills of rhyming
· Delayed or problematic speech
· Disinterest and difficulty in learning letters
Early School Years
· Poor awareness of phonetics
· Poor word skills
· Problem in copying
· Careless spelling
· Poor knowledge of sound-letter
Middle School Years
· Poor decoding skills
· Poor word knowledge
· Slow reading
· Phonetic or non phonetic spelling
Adolescence and Adult Years
· Slow writing
· Poor fluency in reading
· Poor organisation
· Poor work expression
KEY CHARACTERISTICS OF DYSLEXIA:
A brain based type of learning difficulty that specifically affects an individual’s ability to read is Dyslexia. These individuals typically possess the ability to read at a significantly lower level of expectation even though they possess normal intelligence. As suggested by Moragne (1997), although Dyslexia varies from individual to individual, its common characteristics include phonological processing, difficulty with spelling and rapid responding both visual and verbal.
Some early symptoms that can be later diagnosed as Dyslexia include letter reversal, mirror writing, delay in speech and easy distraction by noises in the surrounding.
The later age symptoms includes poor spelling ability, difficulty identifying or creating rhyming words, phonological awareness, segmentising words into individual sounds, blending of sounds to form words, etc. Some other symptoms are inability to guess whole words, and the tendency to add or omit words or letters while reading or writing.
Symptoms in teenagers and adults include difficulty in memorizing, summarizing stories, learning foreign language and in reading aloud.
Individual who are affected by Dyslexia can be identified by writing skills, reading accuracy and fluency that by no means match the level of intelligence they possess, (Marshall, 2004).
While reading the following signs may help in identifying Dyslexia in an individual:
· Repetition or omission of words or whole lines
· Laboured or hesitant reading
· Reliance on context or phonics
· Difficulty in decoding shorter words
· Difficulty reading multi syllabic words
· Confusion between visibly similar words or alphabets
· Complain regarding words being blurred or moving.
While writing the following symptoms may help in identifying Dyslexia in an individual:
· Confusion between upper and lower case
· Difficulty in taking notes or copying
· Poor spelling which is often resulting in inability to read what has been written
· Slow, laborious and inconsistent writing
· Disparity in written and spoken abilities
· Poor handwriting and untidy work
Studies reveal that the children born to parents with Dyslexia have a heightened risk of literacy impairment. However, families share not only the genes but also the environment, thus making it difficult to disentangle the contribution of genes in comparison to environmental factors on reading behaviour.
Functional brain imaging studies conducted during reading indicate that individuals affected with Dyslexia typically show less activity than controls in the left hemisphere temporo - pariental region. However, the casual status of brain differences pertaining to Dyslexia are debatable as the development of the brain shows considerable plasticity and both its function and structure are shaped by usage.
Schools and the environment at home contributes to the risk of a child developing Dyslexia. A strong social gradient is observed regarding reading disorder. It has been often noted that poor readers belong to large families. In scenarios where the parents have a literacy problem, less than optimal reading related experience is obtained at home.
The deficits in low level visual or auditory processing have been implicated by various theories. The result of research are missed and typically only a section of the people with Dyslexia are affected.
Prior to the twentieth century, children with learning difficulties were often considered as unteachable. In the beginning of the twentieth century it was recognised that children with learning difficulties and previously considered uneducable could in fact learn but at their own pace. Notable in the quest for new learning strategies were the work of Bessie Stillman and Anna Gillingham who published the first teaching method which was directed specifically to help children with reading difficulties including Dyslexia, (Snowling 2000).
There are numerous techniques that can be adopted to teach Dyslexic children. Not all affected with Dyslexia will respond to the same techniques so it is of utmost importance to customise the strategies as per the particular child’s need.
There are a number of teaching aids, programs, etc that can be used with a child suffering from Dyslexia. It has to be chosen on the basis of how positive the one aiding the child is and how far is the improvement on the child’s confidence which will enhance its success rate, (Abraham, 2004).
Tuitions provided should be multi-sensory in nature. They should involve listening, speaking, touching, looking with as much variation as possible. Shaywitz (2003)suggested that by means of this it can be determined whether the child is a visual learner, that is a person who learns best by seeing, an auditory learner, that is a person who learns best by listening or a kinaesthetic learner, that is a person who learns best by feeling or doing.
As opined by Farrell (2006), iff a student has Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLDs) and has approached the Disability Team for support, a full assessment of their academic support requirements and a detailed report pertaining to specific recommendations will have to be sent to the nominated disability contact in the school or the facility.
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