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Permission graciously given by the author to reproduce this paper:   


Judith Kaye Lawrence 

Fictitious Character :

Student:  Erika Mesa 
Screening date:  Nov. 11, 2003 
Date of Birth:  July, 5, 1996 
Age:       7.6 years 
Grade:  Second 
Father:  Stephan Mesa 
Mother: Maria Mesa 


In kindergarten Erika’s mother (a reading specialist) saw some irregularities in her daughters learning capacity, and expressed concerns in regards to Erika’s reading and writing skills. She felt that Erika was not receiving the professional attention that she needed so, she decided to home school her in first grade feeling that she could give Erika the attention she needed.  Suspecting dyslexia, her mother asked for a second opinion.  If Erika is diagnosed with dyslexia, her mother is desirous of  learning strategies that will be helpful for Erika, and that will be helpful to accommodate this disorder.  


Erika assisted kindergarten in the public school system.  In first grade her mother decided to home school.  She attends English classes in the mornings from 8:30 – 10:00 a.m., and is also tutored in a Spanish program from 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.  English is Erika’s first language.  Mrs. Mesa comments that Erika has many spelling errors, her handwriting is sloppy even though she tries very hard to write legible, and she is very slow in completing assignments.  She has been tested for glasses and hearing. Both tests were normal. 

Her grandfather and aunt on maternal side of the family dislike reading, and spelling is difficult for them.  Neither one likes to write. They both get very confused when verbalizing directions of any kind.  The Grandfather is disorganized and has a difficult time keeping things in their place, but her aunt is not; she is more on the perfectionist side.  Her maternal grandmother as an adult was diagnosed with mild ADHD.  Since learning this late in life, she was never given medical help, and learned how to pace herself without outside assistance.   Erika however, does not meet the profile for ADD/ADHD. 

Erika struggles in school.  She gets very frustrated, is quiet and reserved, so it is hard to see her frustration.  If she trusts the teacher or adult she will ask for help.  She dislikes writing but likes to read.  Taking into consideration her problem, she actually reads very well, although she is not fluent.  She demonstrates reversals, spelling errors, and tends to forget or lose her train of thought.  Her comprehension skills are good.  Her behavior is normal; she is obedient, quiet and does what the teacher asks her to do.  Her father is supportive and makes every effort to help her.  He is in complete agreement that educational therapy is necessary. Both parents are bilingual Spanish and English teachers.   Mom is a reading specialist. 


Erika is the first gestation of four children.  She has three younger brothers ages 2, 4, and 6 years old.  The four year old brother manifests a mild speech impediment.  Mom’s pregnancy was normal.  The delivery was uneventful, although Erika was born 3 weeks early.  Her mother never used any type of drugs or medications during the pregnancy.  She did everything she was told to do during the pregnancy, which included vitamins and exercise, and proper diet.  When she had been in labor an excessive amount of time the doctor decided to induce. 

Erika has never had any serious illnesses.  She developed normal with one exception.  She was late speaking words and sentences.  She was able to sound utterances, and some words.  

At age 6 she fell off her bike suffering a mild concussion.  X-rays showed everything in order; no damage was done to the brain or to the skull. 


Erika confuses certain sounds such as “i” for “e” or the “g” for “j”.  She thinks very carefully when she sees the letter “y”, but she will pronounce it correctly. She is learning two languages English and Spanish.  English is spoken at home and she attends a school in Mexico where she is exposed to the Spanish language. 
Her Mother has taught her since kindergarten in phonemic awareness and phonics.  In samples of writing from her August 03 notebook there were various writing errors. As Erika has progressed the errors have lessened. She will often self correct.  Her handwriting is more legible although she still has omissions and substitutions.  She writes English phonetically; often confusing sounds such as: ther for their, scooell for school, dodter for doctor, snacs for snacks, priti for pretty, etc.  She writes reversals such as: “ The 5 reverse, for 5”, “ the nine  for 6”, ut for tu, and roses for horses to mention a few. 

She is right handed and holds her pencil correctly but she has an unusually tight grip.  She moves her pencil slowly when writing characteristics of dyslexic children.  She can write words with three letters without any problem yet anything larger she needs to look up and down at the black board very frequently to remember what letter to write next.  She will often sound out a letter and then write it down using her finger for spacing.  She confuses the right with the left.  She writes cursive mixed with small case letters.  She has to really think about the “b” and the “d” before writing them down; occasionally making a mistake. 

Erika is very attentive.  Her comprehension is good but sometimes she forgets what to do if given two or more instructions consecutively in a row. She struggles with memory recall, can be distracted if noise is in the back ground or if there are any interruptions.  She will quickly return on task and focus again on the subject. 
Erika is very well liked by her peers and teachers.  She is not a difficult student and tries very hard to do well.  She needs to be reminded to do her homework but always turns it in.  She is diligent and perceptive even though her struggles are noticeable.  She favors math and feels more secure when doing calculations.  Directionality is a problem; she is slow but thorough, so makes very few mistakes. Despite her struggles she has shown wonderful improvement. 


The following tests were applied:  CTOPP (Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing), Slosson Oral Reading test (SORT), Sight Word Reading Test, Reading Fluency, Slingerland Screening, Bender, and DDT (Dyslexia Determination Test, no standardized). 

The screening took place in the school testing room on several different occasions within a month’s time.   For many reasons we were unable to finish the testing any sooner.  We worked at a small table, in a large, quiet room with some slight distractions.  (Occasionally there was a child running or playing outside by the window). 

She was tested at 11:00 a.m. in the morning.  It took a total of 10 hours to complete the testing.  Erika enjoys coming to the testing room.  On one occasion she commented that she was tired, so we stopped and resumed the testing the next day.  She was cooperative and only occasionally was distracted by outside noises but she quickly returned to the task. She worked diligently and did everything that was asked of her.  These results represent her best efforts. 


Kaye Lawrence conducted this screening.  Mrs. Lawrence’s conclusion is that Erika Mesa has moderate dyslexia.  This diagnosis is based on the following evidence: 
Erika’s genetic, developmental and educational history contains most of the classic warning signs of dyslexia (to see a summary of those warning signs see Genetic History pg.2).  Her areas of academic weakness are also consistent with dyslexia. 
•    Significant differences in rapid digit naming, rapid letter naming, rapid color 
      naming, rapid object naming and somewhat weak in phonological awareness           and  alternate phonological awareness. 
•    Difficulty in spelling and expression.  Her expression is good for her age level as 
      is her comprehension. 
•    Letter and some number reversals continuing past first grade. 
•    Confusion with d/b, small pronouns “ot/to” and the numbers “5/6”. 
•    Lack of sound to symbol knowledge.  She does better with symbol to sound. 
•    Distortion of phonemes, confuses capitals with lower case, and often mixes 
     cursive with block letters. 
•    Some inability to sound out isolated words as well as in reading. 
•    Significant lack of fluency (inability to meet the DIBELS bench mark).  Reading 
      fluency is 60 words per minute. 
•    Manifests difficulty in copying; she is slow.  Her handwriting is strained. 

Testing Results for Erika Mesa 

On the Slingerland Screening Erika made 23 significant errors that she hadn’t noticed.  Some of those errors consisted of the types only a person with dyslexia would make:  2 omissions, 7 substitutions, 3 transpositions, 1 capitalization, 3 reversals, and 4 poor formations.  The recommended cutoff score ( which dyslexia is considered the cause of a child’s difficulties) is 15. 

Written composition is the most difficult skill of all for children with dyslexia. Erika struggles with mild dysgrafia.  She has difficulty placing symbols on the proper lines, and labors over handwriting. 

Dyslexia is the only condition that would cause a child with at least average intelligence to have this genetic, developmental, and educational background, and to make these types and quantity of errors on the screening tests. 


1.    Although Erika has received phonemic awareness since kindergarten she needs consistent continuation and one-on-one tutoring in the Orton-Gillingham method or other phonemic strategies that will help her with phonological skills.  Teachers would be well advised to emphasize an auditory-phonetic approach to the development of word attack skills or more emphasis on phonetics in general.  She will clearly need tutoring and remedial work in the areas of reading and spelling, as well as handwriting, even though her current achievements in handwriting do not, at this time reflect significant problems. 

2.    Exercises with fine motor skills that can help her with her hand writing methods which seem to be a burden for her.  Because handwriting is a concern for her, assignments may need to be modified and her examination for acquired knowledge in tests may either need to be shorter or orally based. 

3.    Erika tends to confuse some sounds due to two languages.  This is only part of her problem.  She is highly intelligent and in time will be able to adapt to both languages, and do very well. 

4.    To meet Erika’s educational needs she will need the following considerations and classroom accommodations. 
•    Very little dictation or long written assignments 
•    Do not count off for spelling errors 
•    Never require Erika to copy from the board or from a book.  Allow sufficient time       if  she needs to copy an assignment.  Don’t rush her. 
•    Give written tests orally. 
•    Never embarrass her by showing her weaknesses to her classmates or in front of 
     her to other teachers or adults. 
•    Make sure homework is within her capabilities. 
•    Repeat calmly whatever is necessary as many times as necessary. 

5.  Orientation for parents, to increase their knowledge about dyslexia, classroom strategies, and legal rights, as well as surgerencias for Erika’s teacher (s). 

6.  Special tutoring to meet needs in dyslexia. 

7.  In addition I suggest the following: 

a.    Assessment test to measure IQ. 
b.    Occupational therapy to help with directionality, laterality and motor skills. 
c.    Continued follow-up. Periodic consultation with Erika’s teacher(s), and family to promote the use of the most effective techniques in the classroom and at home. 
Susan Barton has developed a list of Warning Signs for Dyslexia.  If a child has three or more of these warning signs, their difficulties are probably due to dyslexia.  The italics are symptoms shown by Erika. 

Preschoolers:  Delayed speech, mixing up the sounds or syllable in short or long words, chronic ear infections, severe reactions to childhood illnesses, constant confusion of left versus right, late in establishing a dominant hand, difficulty learning to tie shoes, trouble memorizing address, phone number, or the alphabet, can’t create words that rhyme. 

Elementary School: Dysgraphia (the slow-non-automatic handwriting that is difficult to read), letter or number reversals continuing past first grade, extreme difficulty learning cursive, slow, choppy, inaccurate reading: guesses based on shape or context, skips or misreads prepositions (at, to, of) ignores suffixes, can’t sound out unknown word, terrible spelling, often can’t remember sight words, (they, were, does) or homonyms (their, they’re, and there), difficulty telling time on a clock with hands, trouble with math, memorizing multiplication tables, memorizing a sequence of steps, directionality, extremely messy bedroom, backpack, or desk, dreads going to school: complains of stomach aches or headaches, may have nightmares about school. 


Dyslexia is a neurologically-based, often familial, disorder that interferes with the acquisition and processing of language.  Varying in its degree of severity, dyslexia causes difficulty in receptive and expressive language.  Symptoms can include difficulty in phonological processing, reading, writing, spelling, handwriting, and sometimes arithmetic. Dyslexia is not the result of lack of motivation, sensory impairment (such as eye-sight or hearing), inadequate instructional or environmental opportunities, or other limiting conditions.  But dyslexia may occur together with any of these conditions.  

Although dyslexia is a lifelong disorder, individuals with dyslexia frequently respond successfully to timely and appropriate intervention. 

The diagnosis of dyslexia presents a unique set of circumstances while biologically based, dyslexia is expressed within the context of the classroom so that its identification often depends on school procedures. (Shaywitz p. 31) 
Although findings at one time found the ration of boys to girls with reading disability, it has now been proven that it is the same.  Consistent, too, are findings from still other studies that indicate girls with reading disability are not as readily identified as boys and in fact, are often more severely impaired in reading before they are identified for special education services.  Boys who are a bit rambunctious and more aggressive may be perceived as having a behavior problem and referred for further evaluation.  Meanwhile, the well-mannered girls who sit quietly at their seats but who, nevertheless, are failing to learn to read are often overlooked.  They may be identified as reading-impaired much later or perhaps never. 

Dyslexia is not only common, it is persistent, it will not be outgrown.  For this reason it is urgent to identify children early on and ensuring that they receive help as soon as they are identified. 

    Reading is the converse of speaking.  In reading we begin with the intact printed word on the page.  The blocks representing phonemes are all lined up correctly.  The reader’s job is to convert the letters into their sounds and appreciate that the words are composed of smaller segments or phonemes. 
                b      =    aaaaaa    =        t       =  “b a t” 

                 k     =    aaaaaa     =      t         =   “c   a   t”  
Shaywitz comments that dyslexic children and adults have difficulty developing awareness that spoken and written words are comprised of these phonemes or building blocks.  Think of the little boy who got his first pair of glasses and then said, “I never knew that building was made of red bricks.  I always thought its wall was just one big smudge of red paint.”  Dyslexics perceive words the same way.  They perceive a word as an amorphous blur, without an appreciation of its underlying segmental nature.  They fail to appreciate the internal sound structure of words. 

In the condition of developmental dyslexia where reading fails to develop normally, something has gone wrong right from the beginning.  Consequently, we would not necessarily expect to find a distinct lesion, a cut in the wiring; instead, the wiring may not have been laid down correctly in the first place, a glitch having taken place during fetal life, when the brain is hard-wired for language.  As a result, the tens of thousands of neurons carrying the phonologic messages necessary for language do not appropriately connect to form the resonating networks that make skilled reading possible.  Most likely as a result of a genetically programmed error, the neural system necessary for phonologic analysis is somehow miswired, and a child is left with a phonologic impairment that interferes with spoken and written language.  Depending on the nature or severity of this fault in the wiring, we would expect to observe variations and varying degrees of reading difficulty. 

Dyslexia means “faulty reading.”  Dyslexia means bad or hard and lexia means language so, dyslexia means “cannot read”.  There are several different types of acquired dyslexia.  Carlson mentions the following five: surface dyslexia a deficit in whole-word reading, usually caused by a lesion of the left temporal lobe.  The people with this disorder make errors related to the visual appearance of the words and to pronunciation rules, not to the meaning of the word, which is metaphorically “deeper” than the appearance. They have difficulty recognizing words as a whole; they are obliged to sound them out. 

Phonological dyslexia:  These people have the opposite problem; they can read by the whole-word method but cannot sound out words.  They can read familiar words but have great difficulty to read unfamiliar words or pronounceable non words. Phonological dyslexia is usually caused by damage to the left frontal lobe.  Phonological reading activates Broca’s area and the left insular region, and actually involves articulation. 

Word-form dyslexia or spelling dyslexia is a disorder that the person cannot either recognize words as a whole or sound them out phonetically; they can still recognize individual letters and can read the words if they are permitted to name the letters, one at a time. 

Direct dyslexics are able to read aloud, even though they cannot understand the word they are saying.  Damage to the left frontal and temporal lobes cause this type.  Comprehension without reading is the opposite of direct dyslexia.  These people show some comprehension of words that they cannot read. 

Then, there is developmental dyslexia a specific language disorder that tends to occur in families, a finding that suggests a genetic component. Linkage suggests that chromosomes 6 and 15 may contain genes responsible for different components of this disorder. 

People with Developmental Dyslexia have difficulty blending or rearranging the sounds of words that they hear. For example, they have difficulty recognizing that if we remove the first sound from “cat”, we are left with the word “at.”  They also have difficulty distinguishing the order of sequences of sounds.  Problems such as these might be expected to impair the ability to read phonetically (Eden and Zeffin).  Dyslexic children also tend to have great difficulty in writing:  They make spelling errors, they show poor spatial arrangements of letters they omit letters, and their writing tends to have weak grammatical development. 

All of these types of dyslexia can be listed in three categories:  Visual dyslexia is characterized by reversals of letters and number, faulty sequencing, coding and/or decoding.  These people also have problems with disorientation in time and space relationships, and problems in processing, interpreting and recalling visual images.  Auditory dyslexia is characteristic by problems with integrating and processing what is heard.  Problems in recalling sounds, and being able to put a sound with the letter it represents. 

The third type of dyslexia is a combination of visual and auditory in varying degrees.  When an individual has both type of dyslexia it is more pronounced.  Visual dyslexia is the most common of the three types (Chapman). 

Shaywitz did some mapping of the neural circuitry for reading.  The purpose of this test was to see which side of the brain was activated for phonological analysis.  Both men and women were tested.  There was a surprising difference between the brain activation patterns in men and women.  The men activated the left inferior frontal gyrus where most of the women activated the right as well as the left.  This test represented the first demonstration of a visible sex difference in brain organization for language.  The same brain region that showed sex differences, the inferior frontal gyrus, was also involved in reading. 

Imaging studies have identified at least two neural pathways for reading: one for beginning reading and another that is a speedier pathway for skilled reading.  Careful examination of brain activation patterns has revealed a glitch in this circuitry in dyslexia readers. 

Most of the reading part of the brain is in the back called the posterior reading system; it is made up of two different pathways for reading words, one sitting somewhat higher in the brain than the other.  The upper pathway is located primarily in the middle of the brain (the parietal-temporal region), just above and slightly behind the ear.  The lower path runs closer to the bottom of the brain; it is the site where two lobes of the brain- the occipital and the temporal-converge.  This hectic region serves as a hub where incoming information from different sensory systems comes together and where, for example, all the relevant information about a word- how it looks, how it sounds, and what it means is tightly bound together and stored.  The lower circuit is behind the ear, near the area where children often get swollen glands associated with scalp or ear infections. 

Fortunately, mapping the neural pathways in good reades opened the door to understanding the nature of the difficulty in dyslexic readers.  Good readers activate the back of the brain and also, to some extent, the front of the brain.  In contrast, dyslexic readers show a fault in the system: under activation of neural pathways in the back of the brain.  Consequently, they have initial trouble analyzing words and transforming letters into sounds and even as they mature, they remain slow and not fluent readers. (Shaywitz 2004) 

Also, it has been learned that dyslexic children and adults resort to secondary compensatory reading system pathways or a different route to reading.  In addition, to their greater reliance of Broca’s area dyslexics are also using other auxiliary systems for reading; one’s located on the right side as well as the front-a functioning system but it is not an automatic.  These findings explain the puzzling picture of bright adult dyslexic readers who improve in reading words accurately but for whom reading remains slow and draining.  The disruption in the left posterior system prevents rapid, automatic word recognition.  These dyslexic readers have to rely on a “manual” rather than on automatic system for reading (Shaywitz). 

Dyslexia is a hidden disability and because there was no physical proof of it, skeptics tried to explain it away.  Thanks to functional imaging concrete evidence of the physical reality of a dyslexic reading difficulty has been revealed. 

Psychological Factors 

I think there hasn’t been enough attention placed on the role of emotion involved with being dyslexia.  The struggles, low self-esteem and hurts are often overlooked in these people.  The “ugly duckling” syndrome is clearly the way many of them feel.  They are often misinterpreted, put aside or misunderstood due to this complex disorder.  Always when emotions are involved they are likely to tangle up the situation and make it more difficult to handle.  A dyslexia child carries a heavy emotional burden because he or she hasn’t been able to function on the same level as his or her counterparts or communicate what he or she is going through.  They know something is wrong but don’t know what it is. It is true that one of the most vulnerable spots and one of the most important ones, in our children lives is their self-concept.  How do they feel about themselves and the fact, of which they are only too aware of their failure to measure up to their own and other people’s expectancies in learning to handle language, speech, reading, writing, spelling, self-expression, and the like? 

A person with dyslexia has an extra gauntlet to run through life.  For this reason it is very important that the parents understand and cooperate in the support of a dyslexia child.  This will reduce the pressure at home.  A dyslexic person has to look at things different ways than the non-dyslexic person. 

There is a stigmatism of being dumb, which is passed on to most dyslexics.  Having dyslexia is frustrating because of its failure ridden psyche.  How do you do that again?  This is a common cry from the dyslexic person.  He or she needs solid and positive reinforcement over and over, learning by rate, to deeply encode the correct message. 

To gain insight into dyslexia feelings about their condition and ways they have found to help them cope with dyslexia a number of dyslexics were interweaved.  I have written down a few of their responses. 

9 year old male:  How does it feel to be dyslexia?  “Kind of bad.  I don’t like to tell my friends because I get embarrassed” 

18 year old female: How does it feel to be dyslexia? “In response to your question I wrote this poem:  Seeking for Help   Help—I need help!  Where can I turn to?  Sometimes I feel so blue.  But, I feel I have nowhere to go.  People try, but don’t succeed.  My family is my source, but I have a mask.  A mask over my face.  It may look happy, but behind it, I’m sad.  This mask is with me almost all the time.  But sometimes I cannot find it, that’s why I cry.” 

27 year-old female:  How does it feel to be dyslexic?  “Trouble, it’s hard because you don’t understand certain things so you want to give up or find a way around it.  Your treated different than other people.” 

12 year-old male:  How does it feel to be dyslexic?  “I don’t know because I’ve always been dyslexic.  I don’t know what it’s like not being dyslexia.  Sometimes I have an inner anger.” 

Dyslexia is not a “disease” to “have” and “be cured of,” but a kind of mind.  Very often a gifted mind—there have been many famous, productive creative dyslexic’s. (Weger)    Those of us concerned with dyslexia have come to believe in the importance of therapy.  Therapy will either help erase or reduce the anxieties to manageable proportions that these people carry, and will help them to build a positive self-esteem.  Therapy will help the child from becoming inhibited, or aggressive or passively compliant as to seem an “empty” personality. (Orton Society 1969). 

Sociological Factors  

Certainly developing positive peer relations with a wide range of individuals is a critical plus.  The peer group greatly influences the acquisition of social status and self-esteem.   The fostering and nurturing of positive peer relationship with individuals who are dyslexic must involve some type of understanding on the part of the peer group of the special learning problems of the dyslexic.  This process can be facilitated by parents and teachers (Spafford and Grosses 1996). 

Of particular importance to the dyslexic is the need for positive interactions and reinforcement from teachers and peers, which would enhance the dyslexic’s self-image and self-esteem as dyslexic’s have been noted to have a less than positive self-worth.  The root of this perception seems to lie in the complex interactive effect of the failures wrought by the disability itself and personal and environmental consequences such as negative peer and teacher perceptions. 

So far we have looked at the life of a dyslexic from the inside, how he feels, but what about the outside view?  How does the rest of the world look at the dyslexia person, and how does it treat him? 

There are of course, many factors in each ordinary social situation, but we want to focus on one often troublesome aspect of life where it is possible, to alleviate discomfort and liberate large numbers of individual’s persons to manage a more satisfying life. 

Family life seems a good place to begin considering the outward social implication of dyslexic’s. Many negative feelings plus fear, resentment, tensions, misunderstandings are all part of stress in a family that has a dyslexic child.  Until the family understands and learns what to do to help a dyslexic child these issues will never be resolved.  When the family comprehends the difficulties that a dyslexia child has there will be more compassion, more help and respect.  All the people that are associated with the dyslexic person such as grandparents, other relatives, family friends, neighbors even the church and other social connections are in need to help a dyslexic child cope with the battle of dyslexia. 

“There is no magic, however it may sometimes seem.  The student feels that he is understood, sees that improvement has already begun, that hope is realistic.  He can drop some of the old burdens and begin to forge ahead.  We have to make sure, as far as is humanly possible, that the reality continues to be favorable and that he realizes that someone is there to sustain him in hard places and discouraging plateaus, and that, like his predecessors, he can “make it”.  (Rawson 1996) 

School relationships can be complicated, too.  The dyslexic child often interrupts disrupting the whole class; he or she can become very aggressive even though we see aggression more in boys than girls. The dyslexic child’s behavior often warrants discipline.  The teacher finds it difficult to tend the needs and help the dyslexic child to cope especially if the teacher hasn’t been trained in this area.  This child becomes a “bad influence” and is often given this reputation; is such he is thought of as a nuisance, and he even begins to think of himself that way.  No one wants to be around him.  He often will repeat grades. 

In the community he is known as a child that “can’t do anything” syndrome.  He is seen as undesirable; people refrain from having him come around.  In the place of receiving understanding from the adult community, he is chastised.  Consequently, he will bear the brunt, adding to his already heavy burden.  I don’t think of dyslexia itself as a social pathology but because of society’s ineptitude in dealing with it, it often gets entangled with such identifiable conditions as economic disorders, physical and mental ill-health, antisocial behavior of both youngsters and adults, suicide and general human wastage.  There are some items of case evidence and a few studies which should give one pause to think. 

Emotional Disorders 

Lauretta Bender observed that at least 50 percent of the children treated for behavioral and psychiatric disorders at Bellevue Hospital in New York and severe reading problems and that many of them responded well to appropriate tutoring. 

Anti-social Behavior 

The most obvious and perhaps best documented material on the relationship between social problems and dyslexia comes from the field of criminology, from the juvenile and adult penal system.  Approximately 50 percent of the “statutory offenders” are youngsters that are school failures and a good many of them are dyslexic though not all. 


An alarming number of young people each year are driven, for one reason or another, to take their own lives.  They are filled with hatred for adults who do not understand their predicament.  They come to the end of his rope-so they draw back and ties a hangman’s noose in it.  Far too many young people take their own lives.  The heartbreaking tragedy is that at least some of these bright and sensitive people could have been saved for satisfying and effective lives, as has many others (Rawson). 

The best results have time and again come from educational and psychological treatment of the right kind, administered by the right person and continued often a long period of time.  Since dyslexia is a permanent disorder one needs to understand that there is no quick remedial answer.  It takes time, early clinical diagnosis and educational treatment continued to the level of the student’s independent competence, is the only sure way to help them become effective adults in society. 

Remediation is one of the most important social implications of dyslexia.  People need not fail in school and life because of dyslexia.  We professionals must press vigorously toward solutions of this problem that leaves a dyslexic child devastated, without hope, and dignity.  "The future can be bright; dyslexics do and can succeed!” (Rawson) 


One of the most rewarding experiences I can imagine is to see a child who couldn’t read, who once hated school, was very depressed and sad, one who felt defeat, transform into a child who glows with an eagerness to learn and can’t wait for morning to come so he or she can go to school. 

A dyslexic child can become a reader.  Such a transformation requires two essential ingredients: early diagnosis and effective treatment.  I would like to spend some time on effective treatment.  First, the specialist will need to tailor a program according to each child or adult’s needs, baring in mind that each problem is different and requires different strategies. 

Shawitz suggests to remediate the phonologic weakness by accessing the higher-level thinking and reasoning strengths (through accommodations.)  This is important because it places emphasis not only on the child’s reading difficulty but on his strengths.  It reminds everyone that the isolated phonologic weakness is only one small part of a much larger picture.  Far too often the focus is only on the child’s weakness, and the child’s strong capabilities and potential are often overlooked.  Also, it is important to remember that the significant adults in a dyslexic child’s life play an important role to the child’s success.  The child needs someone to support him, a cheerleader so to speak, when things are not going well, a friend, a confidant when others tease him or bully him. He will need someone to believe in him and transfer that belief into positive action by understanding the nature of his reading problem and then actively and relentlessly working to ensure that he receives the reading help and other support he needs.” (Shaywitz pg. 172-173) 

A complete diagnosis is absolutely necessary.  A through battery of tests is needed to make a correct diagnosis and to see if there exist dual problems that could complicate the dyslexia.  Once the diagnosis is made, follow a program research based best practices for dyslexia such as: simultaneously multisensory.  (Direct and explicit), systematic phonics (analytic and synthetic).  Teach reading and spelling as related subjects and intense practice with constant weaving.  Encourage verbal participation, and use a lot of visual tools.  Traditional methods of teaching will not work for dyslexic students.  Proper accommodations for reading spelling, written expression, homework, testing and grading must all be taken in consideration.  I would like to take some time to clarify just what accommodation means.  

What is an accommodation? 

This is not usually a change in the curriculum but a change in the way the teacher presents the information, in the way she tests the student or a change in the way a student practices new skills.  The teacher wants to make sure that the student does not fail so she accommodates the program to fit the learning needs of the student.  

Ways to accommodate a dyslexic student: 

•    Reduce the volume of work – shorter assignments 
•    Reduce the pace-allow more time to finish the task. 
•    Break a complex task into smaller pieces. 
•    Provide alternate ways for a student to produce the work or achieve the goal. 
•    Learn alternate ways to teach the material.  Modify the grading system: grade on 
     quality and effort, not quantity of work.  Never flunk a child that is trying (Barton pg. 

Alternative Treatment: 

Dsylexia is a neurological-biological disorder.  There is not a “quick fix.”  It is permanent brain damage. The only alternative treatment would be to provide the child with proper nutrition principally adding to his or her daily diet, a vitamin supplement especially vitamin B- complex and zinc that will help eliminate the stress faced by this complicated disorder.  Try to encourage the parents that rest is necessary, so less night outs and late television in the evening so that the child can go to bed early.  A structured program in the home would be advantageous and also help to alleviate the stress factors that conflict within the family. 

Craniosacral therapy 

Decreased efficiency of the central nervous system (CNS) contributes too many chronic and nonspecific conditions, and problems within the craniosacral system are responsible for tremendous suffering and loss of potential vigor and health. 
The proper functioning of the craniosacral system implies health for the central nervous system.  The proper alignment of the craniosacral system allows the nervous system to rest at a more stress-free level.  Individuals who experience craniosacral treatment describe profound states of relaxation, of feeling lighter and more integrated.  “When there is synchronous movement in the craniosacral system, the physiology of the CNS functions more efficiently and the nerve tissue is, in general, healthier,” says Robert Norett, D.C., and Director of the Stillpoint Health Center in Venice, California. 

Craniosacral therapy is used to evaluate and treat problems involving the brain and spinal cord, especially direct trauma to the head and spine.  Other treatable conditions include chronic pain, headache, temporomandibular joint syndrome, mood disorders, dyslexia, autism, stroke, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, dizziness, and tinnitus. 

According to Dr. Norett, the entrapments, and compressions around the nerve and blood vessels that pass in and out of the cranium and spine can be alleviated through craniosacral therapy.  Hundreds of small holes that carry these vessels can become thick with connective tissue and effectively “choke” the vessels.  

Craniosacral therapy is rapidly gaining acceptance among health practitioners and the public.  This may be due in part to the non-intrusive nature of this therapy, and how it works with the entire structure, physiology, mind, and spirit. 

Conclusions:  As a teacher and parent it is of extreme importance that early on to help the dyslexic child identify an interest or a hobby, an area in which he can have a positive experience, whether it be pure enjoyment or perhaps the ability to stand out or excel-an interest in fishing, or horses, rocks, collecting something such as coins, spoons, baseball player cards, sports or a vocational skill such as welding, computers, gardening, sewing etc.  This will allow the child to see himself as a victor, as a competent individual who has mastery over a topic or an area in his life.  He gets to experience the feel of winning.  It is necessary to encourage him to explore in a range of possibilities, in school and after school, and support his efforts and participation.  

The child must be encouraged to view himself as a person who has something to say and something to offer.  He deserves respect and he or she needs to know this.  We must be patient and listen to him or her as they express themselves.  They will learn to become their own advocate which will prepare him or her for the outside challenges that will surely come their way. 

Dyslexic children must not be patronized and we must not lessen their expectations.  They should always be treated as a person with many dimensions, not simply as a person who has a reading problem.  We must let not their weaknesses define them as an individual or as a person.  Every child deserves the opportunity to overcome; we must give them this opportunity.  Much depends on what we do as an adult; the moving force behind them. 


1.       Barton, Susan, Bright Solutions  Dyslexia in Depth,(2003) pg. 2-21 
2.       Bulletin of the Orton Society, The Forgotten Child (1969) pg. 15-20, 43 
3.       Carlson, Neil R. Physiology of Behavior 8th edition (2004) pg. 506-508, 511 
4.       Chapman, William D.  Abstract, From Inside the Looking Glass of Dyslexia 
5.       Chopra, Deepak M. D., Alternative Medicine (1994), pg. 153-154 
6.      Eden, G. F. and Zeffino, T. A. Neural Systems Affected in developmental 
         dyslexia revealed by functional neurorimaging.  (1998) pg. 279-282 
7.      Rawson, Margaret B.  The Many Faces of Dyslexia 3ro Edition p. 43, 45-47. 
8.      Spafford, Carol S. and Graser, George S.  Dyslexia Research and Resource 
         Guide (1996) p. 252 
9.      Shaywitz, Sally M. D. Overcoming Dyslexia (2003) pg.31, 43-44 
10.    U. S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) Flyer about Dyslexia 
11.    Weger, Ronald E., Dyslexia Waiting to be Discovered pg.15-20, 43