This is the VOA Special English Education Report.
Today we have the second in a series of reports about the group of disorders known as learning disabilities. Different ones affect reading, writing, listening, speaking or working with numbers.
The most common learning disability is dyslexia. A person with dyslexia has difficulty with language skills, especially reading. The International Dyslexia Association says studies in different countries generally show that four to seven percent of people are dyslexic.
Dyslexia most commonly affects reading, spelling and writing. Some people have problems with only one of these. Others have trouble with spoken language. They find it difficult to express themselves clearly or understand what other people say.
Dyslexia can also affect a person emotionally. Dyslexic children often think they are unable to learn. They think they are stupid, or that is what they are told. Specialists say children who feel this way are in danger of failure and depression.
What causes dyslexia is not clear. But studies have found differences in brain activity and development in dyslexic people compared to the general population.
Early signs include a delay in learning to speak, and difficulty pronouncing words. While learning to read, children with dyslexia may not recognize letters or connect them with their sounds. They may also have difficulty learning or remembering numbers, colors, shapes or days of the week.
Older children may have difficulty learning a foreign language. They may read slowly or have trouble remembering what they read. And they may fail to see or hear similarities and differences in letters and words.
There is no cure, but people with dyslexia can still be successful learners. Experts say the most important thing is to find the condition at an early age. And they say only a trained professional can tell if a person is dyslexic.
Specially trained educators can teach people with dyslexia different ways to learn. Computer-assisted learning might help, or using recorded books instead of printed ones. Schools can provide more time to finish tasks, and resources like help in taking notes.
More information can be found through organizations like the International Dyslexia Association in Maryland. For a link, along with transcripts and MP3s of our reports, go to voaspecialenglish.com.
And that's the VOA Special English Education Report, written by Nancy Steinbach. Our series on learning disabilities continues next week. I'm Steve Ember.