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Struggling with dyslexia

November 15, 2012
Q. My second-grade son is smart and tries his best in school, but he still struggles with reading, spelling and remembering even his address. Could this mean he has a learning disability?

A. An unexplained inability to process language could well be dyslexia. Dyslexia, a genetic, neurological condition, simply means the brain is wired differently than most brains. The condition, which experts estimate affects up to 20 percent of the population, has nothing to do with intelligence. In fact many of the brightest minds in history were dyslexic: Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, to name a few. The common characteristics of dyslexia include:

Memory difficulties; trouble with spotting patterns, sequencing, rhyming and differentiating letter sounds, frequent omission, addition or reversal of letters in a word, difficulty understanding abstract concepts, speech problems and poor handwriting, ambidexteriy or delayed preference for right or left hand. About half of dyslexic students have ADD/ADHD traits, as well.

To succeed academically, different learners need different instruction. The rote memory tasks and abstract ideas routinely introduced in the classroom would be daunting. What works is individualized one-on-one multisensory instruction. This Orton-Gillingham approach has a 77-year track record of success. Generations of failing students have become A and B students and gone on to college to pursue their dreams, and fulfi ll their potential.

I might encourage you to have your son tested, and, if he is dyslexic, arrange for one-on-one multisensory tutoring. The gold standard for instruction is certifi cation through the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators.

Grosse Pointer Laciura is an instructor at the nonprofit Michigan Dyslexia Institute and a member of MDI's Detroit Metro Center's advisory panel. For more information, check out the Michigan Dyslexia Institute at dys lexia.net or call (248) 658- 0777. The Family Center, a 501(c)(3), non-profi t organization, serves as the community's centralized hub for information, resources and referral for families and professionals. To view more Ask The Experts articles, visit fam ilycenterweb.org. E-mail your questions to mailto:info@familycenterweb. org.To volunteer or contribute, visit familycenterweb.org or call (313) 432-3832, or write 20090 Morningside Drive, Grosse Pointe Woods, MI 48236.

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