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What is dyslexia and how to recognize it

October 15, 2018

It is a disorder that in Italy puts in difficulty about 3.5% of the population. Together with dysgraphia, dysorthography and dyscalculia, dyslexia is part of the category of specific learning disorders (DSA). Neurobiological disorder, dyslexia can occur in individuals with adequate cognitive capacity, in the absence of neurological disorders and sensory deficits. With Dr. Marcella Mauro, psychologist and coordinator of the Neuropsychology of Learning clinic of Humanitas Medical Care in via Domodossola in Milan, we have tried to understand what it is and how to recognize it.


Symptoms of dyslexia

Dyslexia can be suspected when children, both in writing and in reading, reverse numbers and letters or replace f with v, m with n, a with e, p with q. The omission of letters, words or numbers within the sentence can also be a wake-up call.

Probably suffer from dyslexia those who are slow or incorrect in reading or fatigue in understanding the text. But also those who find it difficult to learn alphanumeric lists and often confuse left and right.

At the motor level, symptoms such as being ambidextrous or the difficulty in performing certain activities such as stringing up could indicate the presence of this disorder. Excellence in subjects such as music, drawing and sports are also usually frequent in children with learning disabilities.


How and when does dyslexia occur?

Specifically, dyslexia manifests itself with a difficulty in the correctness or speed of reading and normally occurs when the children begin school. However, learning disorders in general can also emerge later, when, as schooling progresses, performance requirements in terms of reading, writing and calculation increase.

Those who suffer from it have difficulties in coding written signs and this is why dyslexia occurs at the beginning of the schooling phase in the absence of neurological, sensory or cognitive deficits to which to attribute these difficulties. The automation of transcoding processes takes place already in the second year of primary school. In dyslexics, on the other hand, it is later. Genetic studies indicate that the cause of the disorder is to be found in subtle constitutional alterations of specific cortical areas responsible for the processing of visual and linguistic stimuli related to reading. However, in addition to genetic factors, environmental factors can also exacerbate the appearance of the disorder.

What are the other learning disorders?

Other learning disorders are dyscalculia, dysgraphia and dysorthography. Dyscalculia is a specific disorder that manifests itself with a difficulty in the automatic calculation and processing of numbers. Dyslexia, dysgraphia, dysorthography and dyscalculia can occur in isolation or, in most cases, in groups. Dysgraphia is a specific writing disorder that manifests itself with a difficulty in graphic design. The standardised procedures available concern the speed of writing and the evaluation of the parameters of graphism (readability of writing). Dysorthography is a specific writing disorder that manifests itself in difficulties in the linguistic processes of transcoding. The dysorthographic subject makes errors such as omissions, substitutions, inversions of letter or syllable, errors of separation or fusion of words.

Advantages of early diagnosis

Early diagnosis and intervention can not only reduce the expressiveness of school difficulties but also the psychological implications of learning disabilities. All pupils with DSA experience inadequacy in relation to the expectations of others and are often subjected to a greater workload and therefore to frustrations and failures. In practice, this translates into low self-esteem, listlessness, psychosomatic manifestations, anxiety disorder, disinvestment in school, school dropout. That’s why having the symptoms evaluated by a specialist is important to beat this discomfort on time.

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