Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Dyslexia Awareness Month: Go RED!!!

What do Tim Tebow (NFL Quarterback), Jay Leno (Television Host), Whoopie Goldberg (Comedian), Charles Schwab (Stock Market guru), and Henry Winkler (Actor) all have in common? The answer has nothing to do with age, gender, hometown, birthday, or any specific interests. These five are apart of the approximately 30 million Americans who struggle with a learning disability called dyslexia.

Dyslexia is the most common learning disability and is the result of a difference in the “wiring” of the brain. According to the dyslexia center of Utah, about 80% of people who have trouble reading actually have dyslexia. This difference causes dyslexic people to have difficulty separating the letters of their language into different sounds. People with dyslexia often struggle with spelling, pronouncing words, reading words and letters in the correct order, proofreading, and understanding new directions. Sometimes these struggles end up leading to poor grades in school, avoidance of reading for pleasure, appearance of laziness, and low self-esteem.

While the exact cause of dyslexia is unknown we do know that it
occurs in girls and boys at similar rates and is not significantly more prevalent in any particular race or ethnic group. Having a parent who struggles with reading is a definite risk factor for dyslexia and having both parents with reading struggles increases that risk even more.

It is important to distinguish dyslexia as a difference and not a deficit because even though people with dyslexia have struggles, they also excel in many areas. Ron Davis wrote in his book, The Gift of Dyslexia, that dyslexics have many talents including the ability to alter perceptions, increased awareness of their environment, and increased insightfulness. Often times those with dyslexia do really well with activities that require the manipulation of objects in space or thinking outside the box. Some even think Leonardo da Vinci and Albert Einstein were dyslexic!

The days of labeling dyslexia as a handicap or disability are fading quickly. The keys to overcoming the struggles of dyslexia and enjoying the strengths lie in early detection and access to therapy. Your doctor or school counselor will be able to help you arrive at a diagnosis and find appropriate treatment. There are even special schools just for dyslexic children as well as a host of online resources.

If you weren’t able to wear red last Thursday in honor of Worldwide Dyslexia Awareness month, then it is ok but please spread the word and be aware!

Dr. Dustin Gentry is a Family Medicine physician at Winston Medical Center. He has an active clinic, nursing home, and hospital practice at WMC and is available for all your healthcare needs. You can schedule an appointment today by calling 773-3503.