Screen kids for dyslexia: Expert

By NT Bureau Published on Nov 21, 2017 04:38 PM IST

Chennai: Prof Emeritus Angela Fawcett, Univesity of Swansea, and vice-president of British Dyslexia Association, stresses that schoolchildren should be screened to check for dyslexia. ‘...it must be noted that if fewer children are screened, then there are chances that many are losing a good opportunity. Likewise, if more are checked up, then they would be given proper treatment, dyslexia or not," was her argument.

Addressing mediapersons on Monday at a meeting organised by the Madras Dyslexia Association in connection with her two-day workshop on the condition, she said, the screening will be of two kinds - Sensitivity and Specificity.

Issues in screening - is it worth it?

The key issue of why screening takes place is to check them and to help them combat their problem. The screening will be of two kinds - Sensitivity and Specificity.

In sensitivity, around 80 per cent of them will be identified with the problem. In the case of specificity, around 90 per cent will not be facing any issue. Also it must be noted that if fewer children are screened, then there are chances that many are losing a good opportunity. Likewise, if more are checked up, then they would be given proper treatment, dyslexia or not, she said.

Defining dyslexia as ‘reading performance that is markedly below what is expected, based on a person’s intelligence,’ Angela stated that the disorder is present in children, who, despite conventional classroom experience, fail to attain language skills of reading, writing and spelling equivalent to their intellectual abilities.

What are their executive functions?

It includes reasoning, memory power and self-control that can be improved. These need to be progressively developed as the children improve with repeated practice. The children will spend more time in activities that they are passionate about.

Use executive function interventions to build their motivation and to succeed. Emotional, social and character development (such as martial arts, yoga) are considered to be effective, but special children have poor executive functions that need time to catch up and be on a par with the normal ones.

Why is early identification so important?

Using the DST J India (dyslexia screening test - junior, India) in schools especially, it ensures early identification of this disorder, which is essential for timely intervention and support and helps in developing better academic and professional

outcome for the child in later life. It will help them in literacy skills such as reading, spelling and writing. This are the reasons why the condition must be detected at an early stage.

Parenting and society

The use of modern gadgets and long hours of working parents take a toll on normal kids, leave alone dyslexic ones. If the parents could spend some time in bonding with their child, it would be better. Interestingly, modern-day gadgets provide relief to kids as it helps them learn in the absence of elders.

It can be said to be a boon to dyslexics as it provides learning from speech to text, text to speech, mind mapping and even computer games that have been found to help with their attention span. Normal kids may not constantly need attention, unlike a special child. The best thing for them is providing

support and encouragement and believing in them and their capacity.

Problems faced in education in India

Literacy is lower in India than other countries with 84 per cent being literate. Indian literacy rate during 2011 was 74 per cent with males 82.1 per cent and females 65.5 per cent. The funding for schools is currently at 3.5 per cent. Around 50 per cent class 5 in rural schools have low reading skills than those expected to have in class 2, in which 20 per cent only recognise letters. Attendance varies from 50 per cent to 71 per cent. In the case of government schools, it is even worse

MOTIVATION FOR THE SCREENING TESTS

Giving a chance to dyslexic people of all ages

Empowering teachers and making them understand their capacity

Helping the kids to overcome their failures

Quantify the level of difficulties

Allowing dyslexic children to express their strengths and overcome their weaknesses