Healthwatch: Help for Dyslexics

Dyslexia is sometimes thought to be a visual problem, seeing letters backwards. But it's really more than that, according to Lynn Holifield, director of rehab services at Rush Hospital.

"The things you want to look for are kids that, they don't get that letters have sounds. And letters put together and those sounds make words. And you put words together and make sentences," Holifield said.

"That's not a natural progression for them. They also have trouble with rhyming words like, cat, hat, bat. They may not get that those actually go together. They have trouble copying from the board to paper."

People who have dyslexia also can have trouble following directions, which may lead to behavioral problems in a school setting.

"They're trying to cope with the fact that they're not processing that information. So they will do anything to get out of having to do that in a public situation," Holifield said.

While the cause is not know, there is a proven way to treat it so that people affected can lead normal lives. But Holifield says it should be diagnosed early.

"A child that's identified, that's a poor reader, if they do not get help intervention, 75 percent of those kids or poor readers in third grade will be a poor reader when they graduate," said Holifield.

The Meridian Speech and Hearing Center's testing program for dyslexia is now located at Rush. Patients are tested there and intervention is available.

"We break words down, put them together. They don't naturally hear that 'fat' has three sounds in it," said Holifield. "They may try to say it from the other end, ‘taf.’"

Cases of dyslexia can vary from mild to severe, but no case should be ignored. You may contact the dyslexia program at Rush by calling 601-703-9627.


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