Dyslexia: How to Recognize Dyslexia? How Common is it?

The answer to this question varies widely, depending on how we define dyslexia and how we identify it in a child. Estimates of the occurrence of general reading disabilities in elementary school range from 10 percent to 20 percent, but dyslexia as a true defect in the intellectual makeup of the child may be as low as 2 percent. Far more boys are dyslexic, as compared to girls. There are several possible reasons for this:

1. There may be some biological factors that make male children more prone to dyslexia.

2. Girls generally possess superior language skills and these skills develop more quickly than they do in boys. This may compensate for any initial handicap girls might have in learning to read.

3. Boys are often harder to handle in the class than girls, so the teacher is more likely to notice them.

4. Boys tend to be less interested in reading and much more interested in acquiring physical skills, such as cycling or hockey, because culturally, in many communities, reading is an activity for girls.

Reading is a cultural activity and is a good example of cultural learning. In a community with a low literacy rate, there is neither the need nor the opportunity to learn to read. However, lack of schooling is not to be confused with illiteracy. A rural community that does not have a formal education system can nonetheless be highly literate, demonstrating great appreciation for its rich oral traditions such as knowledge of poetry and scriptures.

In such a community, the opportunity for acquiring reading and writing can be successfully introduced. Many traditional and rural societies in India or China are able to catch up with reading and writing when formal schooling is introduced through adult-literacy programs. The critical element seems to be a literary environment and facilities that sustain the practising of elements in literacy.

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