Dyslexia explained

October is Dyslexia Awareness Month, so we speak to a leading educator working to help children with their classroom challenges


It’s estimated that one in 10 people globally have dyslexia, including millions of school children all over the world. It’s a language-based learning difficulty that’s widely misunderstood and often wrongly associated with a lack of intelligence. In fact, Einstein was dyslexic and had an estimated IQ of 160, while half of NASA’s employees suffer from the condition.

But what if your child is diagnosed here in the UAE? We spoke to dyslexia specialists, Lexicon, about their ground-breaking early-intervention programmes that are enabling thousands of kids in Dubai to regain their confidence and learn alongside their peers.

“The biggest challenge for children (and adults!) with dyslexia is a lack of understanding of what dyslexia is,” says Dr.Rudolf Stockling, senior educational psychologist and clinical director at Lexicon. “While much progress has been made in diminishing the stigma of dyslexia, this has not been associated with an increased insight into the nature of the disorder. What people know by now is that dyslexia is not something to be ashamed of, but many parents and teachers don’t really understand that individuals with dyslexia need a different approach to teaching and, because of this, many students do not receive the support that would allow them to become good readers and writers.”

So what do schools here need to be doing to support dyslexic children in their care? “Dyslexia and dysgraphia (specific writing disability) are neurologically-based learning disabilities that need very targeted interventions,” says Dr. Stockling. “Many children who have been diagnosed with dyslexia receive some form of support in schools but, unfortunately, this is often provided by teachers who have not been specifically trained for it.

“Students with dyslexia need a specific type of simultaneous multisensory intervention that teaches them a systematic way of decoding letters into words to become proficient readers.”

Lexicon Reading Center provides this intervention as an integral part of a school’s learning support system and runs workshops for teachers and parents to increase the awareness of dyslexia, dyscalculia (maths disability) and dysgraphia in the UAE. They have developed a model of intervention where trained dyslexia specialists support schools as part of their inclusion programmes.

We now also now that early intervention is key, as Dr Stockling says, “The earlier children get help, the less likely it is they’ll suffer a long-term disadvantage. Because of the neurological basis of dyslexia and dysgraphia, individuals do not outgrow them but early intervention will, however, help them to become fully literate learners, meaning many of the side-effects of learning disabilities such low self-esteem and social isolation will never rear their ugly heads.”

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