Learning disorder can destroy lives and even lead to suicide if left untreated, says UBC’s Linda Siegel
Linda Siegel is a professor in the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, and Special Education. Siegel’s work on dyslexia is detailed in her new book “Understanding Dyslexia and Other Learning Disabilities.”
What impact can dyslexia have on learning? How big of a problem is it?
Dyslexia is a huge problem. Homelessness, substance abuse, anti-social behaviour and even suicide may be a consequence of dyslexia if it is not properly identified and treated. We know how to recognize it early and how to treat it, so these negative consequences can be prevented.
Dyslexia is a lifelong condition. With a proper education and certain accommodations, the effects may be reduced. For example, software that reads what is on the screen is very helpful for dyslexics. Word processing software that corrects spelling (and sometimes punctuation and grammar) is very helpful. Speech recognition software, where the computer types what you say to it, can be very helpful.
How can parents recognize dyslexia in their children, or how can adults recognize dyslexia in themselves?
The signs of dyslexia are difficulties with reading, sounding out words and spelling and writing. Dyslexics often have trouble remembering what they have read. They may have trouble finding the right word. They may have difficulty remembering dates or phone numbers. But many have special talents in music or art or sports or mechanical skills.