Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Does my child have Dyslexia?

I get many calls from parents who want to know if their child has Dyslexia.. Is there a cause for worry.. Does she need Remedial Education.. Is there anything they are missing.. etc..
Many proactive teachers also ask me the same question.

I am happy to see so many people wanting to know more about Dyslexia.. This can save a misdiagnosis as a slow learner or something else. So for all of us here I am writing down a list of Symptoms to look out for.

  • Reading
  • Slow and hesitant reading.
    • Tires easily with reading or complains of sore eyes
    • Sounding out when reading
    • Failure to recognize familiar irregular words, e.g. “whose”, “right”, “hour”
    • Reading words as anagrams, e.g. “was” as “saw”, “on” as “no”
    • Confusion between “b” and “d” and sometimes” “p”
    • Repeatedly getting stuck on the same words throughout a passage
    • Difficulty understanding overall content
    • Dislikes reading
    • Omission or addition of words or lines
    • Poor standard of reading in comparison with oral ability
  • Writing
    • Slow at learning to spell
    • Letters and numbers often reversed
    • Spelling tends to be bizarre
    • Incorrectly formed or written letters
    • Failure to write “p” and “g” or “q” sitting down on line
    • Confusion between “b” and “d” and sometimes” “p”
    • Difficulty in keeping writing on lines of page
    • Confusion between “b” and “d” or always writing them as capitals
    • Order of letters within a word frequently incorrect
    • Great difficulty in spelling common words.
    • Words spelt in different ways in same piece of writing
    • Difficulty in reading back what he/she has written
    • A dislike or avoidance of writing
    • Difficulty in copying from book or blackboard
    • Poor standard of written work in comparison with oral ability or drawing
  • Other
    • Confusion between right and left
    • Difficulty tying shoelaces or remembering which foot to put each shoe on
    • Difficulty doing up buttons into correct buttonholes
    • Difficulty in carrying out more than one instruction at a time
    • Difficulty in remembering what day/month it is
    • Difficulty in remembering anything in sequential order, e.g. stories, songs, rhymes, months of ear etc.
    • Difficulty in learning to tell the time, learning times tables or number sequences
    • Easily distracted, Poor concentration on reading or writing tasks
    • Generally lacking in confidence
    • A bright child who wants to learn and understand how things work

Remember not all of them can exist in one child at the same time. There may be some other co-morid conditions as well. These are just are minimum to raise the flag. You must consult a Child Psychologist or an Educational Assessment Centre to understand more after this.

If you live in Bangalore we could do an educational assessment to find out if your child has any learning difficulties and if yes then what help and how much help he needs.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Aspergers.. An interesting challenge!

Its been raining children this Summer!
And boy! I am enjoying every bit of it. Most people are blessed with a child once or twice in their lifetime but I am blessed with one every day :-) sometimes even more :-) And such exceptional ones!!

Last week I met two children with a diagnosis of Aspergers. Since they live very far I have extended a home program for remedial but I wish I would have got a chance to work with them.

In the last couple of years, however, Ive got an opportunity to briefly work with a couple of children diagnosed with Aspergers.It was an interesting experience.. I also watched "My name is Khan" the movie. I think the movie has helped to bring about some awareness in the public of this condition. I thorughly enjoyed the movie as much as I enjoyed working with the children.

I have attached below a brief writeup of what Aspergers is.. However I have seen children with Dyslexia also having some if not all of these traits but they are 'ok' on the social interaction front... But I ve worked with children with a diagnosis of Autism/Aspergers using a remedial program that focusses on imprving perception. There seems to be a reat deal of improvement in the areas of hyper sensitivity, social interaction, speech clarity and sitting tolerance.
Since all these conditions have so much overlap, the labels that we come up with after an intial assessment must be dealt with a lot of caution..

Ive seen so many changes over a period of 2-6 months in children that the intial diagnosis seems to be just a pointer and not the final truth!

Ok for those of you who want to know more ...

What is Aspergers Syndrome?

Asperger’s Syndrome was named after Dr Hans Asperger, a Viennese paediatrician who described it in a 1944 paper. It remained mostly unknown to the English speaking world, until it was picked up by Lorna Wing in an influential review and series of case reports in 1981. “Asperger’s Syndrome” was made “official” in 1994 when it was included in the DSM manual used by psychologists to classify mental conditions.

Current thinking places Asperger’s Syndrome on the “autistic spectrum”. It is believed that individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome tend to have an IQ ranging from average to genius, and there is much speculation that the likes of Albert Einstein and many other philosophers, scientists and genius musicians had Asperger’s Syndrome.
The main characteristics of Asperger’s Syndrome are often (but not always) a deep focus on a specialist subject or area, a difficulty in understanding human interactions and human social codes (almost like being an alien trying to understand a strange species) and a difficulty with changing environments which need to be learned and adjusted to.

People with Asperger’s Syndrome tend to have a normal to high intelligence, often coupled with a special skill or ability (e.g. extraordinary mathematical or linguistic abilities).

In addition, people with Asperger’s Syndrome are sometimes hypersensitive to stimuli such as light, noise and pain, and their motor skills may be less developed than the norm (e.g. they tend to play less sports).
Many of them are partially face-blind (have a problem remembering faces). They have to invest a lot of energy in understanding interactions and would often need to consciously plan their social behaviour in advance, including when they walk down a busy pedestrian road, and have to avoid running into people.

That intuition – the innate ability to translate human body-language and non-verbal cues is simply not there for them. People with Asperger Syndrome often describe their experience as that of “being on the wrong planet”. They have to learn how humans interact and simulate it. It isn’t a natural trait for them as it is for everyone else.

Asperger’s Syndrome is characterised by a neuro-biological difference from the norm, which means Aspergians process information differently. This is an important point to understand. Asperger’s Syndrome is not a mental illness or a disorder: it is simply a neurological variation from the norm. It is inherited genetically and very often will run in families.

Sourced and adapted from the Asprgia website: An alternative, positive, and sometimes comic view of Asperger’s http://www.aspergia.com

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