Dyslexia is a learning disability that affects people’s ability to read and write. It begins in childhood and continues into adulthood. Unfortunately, it cannot be cured or prevented but there are ways to deal with it.
Sharon Gerkin, managing director at Dyslexic Association of South Africa (DASA) spoke to Salaamedia’s Nafeesa Dangor on Mid-Morning Talk to provide more insight on the topic, what to look out for and to educate our kids to move into a better space.
Gerkin explained the early signs to detect in children with dyslexia, saying “these children are incredibly bright. We start to notice it in school when their verbal abilities get better than there reading and writing abilities. If a child is able to tell you about what they have learnt but they are unable to read it or they can’t put it down on paper, which is what we look for.”
To be diagnosed with Dyslexia, an educational assessment by a psychologist is required. Once the learning disability is medically diagnosed, a parent and an individual should learn their rights – such as being allowed to have extra time during tests or exams and spelling concessions,” Gerkin said.
We as dyslexic [people] have very few times where we can voice who we are and how we fit in society – Sharon Gerkin, managing director at Dyslexic Association of South Africa (DASA)
It is suggested to follow the process as indicated by the educational assessment which could be to consult with an occupational therapist or a speech therapist, depending on the signs and then learning how to cope with it according to your age and understanding.
Coping with dyslexia as one gets older changes and as a teen, according to Gerkin, “it becomes difficult because then we get a lot of frustration and many of these children fallout from school in their teens because verbally they are strong and they should be doing everything but they don’t, so either fail or they get to grade 10 and leave school.”
Gerkin continues by saying: “It is not that they are stupid. It’s because they are battling with school and we used to have technical schools but we don’t anymore so what do we do with these children and then our crime rate goes up because we have children who are leaving school and are clever but can’t read and write.”
Regarding dyslexia amongst adults, Gerkin said that it becomes difficult if adults don’t acknowledge it themselves. She explained that many adults aren’t ready to say they have dyslexia as they fear losing their jobs.
To help with dyslexia, a technological development has been made with C-Pen, which is a pen that scans text material and reads it out loud. This makes it easier to read and comprehend text.
Gerkin advises parents to trust their gut. “If you feel something is wrong, go and sort it out. Don’t rely on schools [because] you as a parent need to take the responsibility,” she said.
Watch the full discussion here: