There are several learning disabilities that have only recently been discovered. It is critical to note that the community does not have much information of learning disabilities. McGregor et al. (2016) note that disabilities are normally a group of disorders that affect learning in one way or another. The scholars are keen to note that currently, only a small portion of learning disorders have been fully understood in terms of how they impact the learner. McGregor et al. (2016) explain that there is still a lot to learn when it comes to how the individual conditions affect different ages. It is arguable that children in kindergarten who have a learning disability respond and interact differently than teenagers in high school or college students. One can even go further and suggest that the disorder can shape the personality of an individual especially during their younger years. Due to the fact that many still do not fully understand such conditions, there is significant stigma associated with learning disorders.
The research will focus on dyslexia, which is one of the most common reading disabilities. Benfatto et al. (2016) define the condition as a neurodevelopmental reading disorder. This means that the condition is caused by impairments in the brain, and not eyes as previously debated. The study will also narrow down the sample size to teenagers. Therefore, one of the key objectives of this study is to find out how dyslexia affects teenagers in regards to their overall development. Indeed, one can argue that the disorder affects not only learning but also other aspects of life, such as self-identity, socialization, and even personality creation. the development of an individual’s identity occurs in teenage years. This makes the age group selected significant in the understanding of the overall impact of learning disabilities in the society.
Background of the Problem
The ability to read and write has been associated with success in life in many modern cultures around the world. Noted as the foundation of literacy development, learning is considered to be one of the few ways of progressing socially and economically as well (Conrad, Zorzi and Ziegler 2019). It is often believed that failure to achieve desired marks or grades in school usually leads to poor outcomes in life. This is due to the fact that white collar jobs often require some level of education. In this current day and age, opportunities for funding are often given to people who are also educated to some level. Conrad, Zorzi, and Ziegler (2019) state that 5-17% of children in lower grades fail to become efficient readers due to one disorder or the other. Due to the stigma that has been associated with reading disabilities, such children are often left behind in regards to educational development.
The government has put in place measures that attempt to help such disadvantaged children so that they still have good future prospects. There are schools that focus on such learning disabilities, as well as specialists who help such teenagers with overall development. This, coupled with the fact that the world is slowly agreeing with the fact that being successful in life is not in direct proportion with fluent reading and writing has allowed individuals with dyslexia to flourish. Despite this, there is still a lot that has to be done. It is important to note that there are studies that suggest that people who suffer from dyslexia are often considered to be at risk of crime due to their limited prospects.
Individuals with dyslexia have been stigmatized not only in the classroom but also in other aspects of life. For example, they are also rarely considered for any jobs due to the fact that they have a difficulty with words. It is important to note that this can be resolved through specific learning strategies (Remien and Marwah 2020). However, as the scholars note, many teachers are not aware of these approaches (Salend 2011). There are two solutions that have to be considered when thinking about how institutions of learning can better help students with dyslexia. The first is that few teachers have been trained on the appropriate strategies to support children with learning disorders (Salend 2011). Secondly, schools rarely have the right equipment to help the students thrive even when they have tolerant teachers.
Statement of the Problem
The pressure to succeed in school has led to drop outs and stigma. Today, there are over 1.2 million teenagers who drop out of school across the country due to failure or fear of getting low grades. This, coupled with socio-economic challenges, has ensured that the number of children missing out on formal education is on the rise. It is critical to note that due to the complexity of reading disabilities, one cannot truly state that children who do not perform as expected in class are “dumb.” Until recently, there has been little interest in understanding the underlying problems that cause children to perform poorly in class. One of the most known type of learning disorders is dyslexia, which affects approximately 43.5 million Americans (Conrad, Zorzi and Ziegler 2019). The condition is often referred to as the inability to read when it is more complicated than that due to the fact that the brain of the affected is different from others. Therefore, it does not mean that the affected is stupid or slow, but that their brain tends to take in, retain, and retrieve information differently from others.
The study is relevant due to various reasons. The first is the fact that there is a significantly large number of people who are affected by dyslexia. Additionally, the system has not accommodated such individuals due to the fact that first, people do not understand learning disabilities. Moreover, success in life is mainly tied to formal education and the ability to fluently read and write. Lastly, people who cannot read are often perceived as stupid, slow and disinterested in school. The objective of this study is to find out how dyslexia affects teenagers in an attempt to prove that it impacts life as a whole and not just learning outcomes.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the study is to fully understand the different ways dyslexia affects teenagers. The study will highlight how the condition affects learning outcomes and also day to day activities for the affected. It is expected that the findings realized will support the argument that more has to be done to ensure that individuals with dyslexia are better supported.
- How does dyslexia affect teenagers?
- Is there a relationship between dyslexia and juvenile delinquency among teenagers?
- Can dyslexia affect day to day activities of teenagers?
- Does dyslexia offer any benefits or holdbacks for the society at large?
As stated previously, teenagers undergo a phase where they try and figure out their identity. This process is more complicated for teens who have dyslexia. Burden (2008) explains that there are studies that suggest that there is a link between self-esteem issues and dyslexia. There are four main aspects that the author looks into in relation to dyslexia. The first is self-concept, which can be defined as how an individual views their own behaviors (Burden 2008). The concept is critical as it allows someone to form an opinion about who they are and also why they are that way. According to Caskey, Innes, and Lovell (2018) dyslexia affects self-concept in two ways. The first is the way the disorder makes an individual view themselves, and the second is the way the condition encourages the affected to see differences rather than similarities.
In regards to the differences, the affected often find that they see themselves as extremely different from others, and it, in turn, affects their self-esteem. On the other hand, it is arguable that the current perception of the condition by the larger society also has an impact on the self-concept created by the individual. An example can be used to explain further. A society that views a person who has dyslexia as ordinary will also encourage the person to see themselves the same way. The vice versa is also true where the society sees the person as different and stupid. It is critical to point out that socialization is a key aspect of developing conducive self-concepts. The fact that socialization is harder for a person with dyslexia, therefore, also means that the individual will most likely have low self-esteem.
As mentioned previously, there are four elements that have to be considered when discussing self-esteem and dyslexia. The second aspect identified by Burden (2008) is self-efficacy, which refers to individual capacity. Vezzoli, Vasalou, and Porayska-Pomsta (2017) argue that individual capacity is not only about the capacity that a person has, but also about the belief in that capacity. An example can be provided to explain further. Girl A might be able to chop wood for 3 days straight, and other people know about this capability, but she does not. On the other hand, girl B might believe she has the capacity to chop wood for 3 consecutive days when others do not hold the same belief. In both scenarios, the focus is on what the individual believes about their capabilities as opposed to what other people believe. It is not a right or wrong type of feeling but rather a strong consideration of one’s strengths and weaknesses. In people with dyslexia, this process is often interrupted which creates confusion in the individual.
The expressions of identity will allow one to understand a person with dyslexia. Vezzoli, Vasalou, and Porayska-Pomsta (2017) explain that a significant number of teenagers with dyslexia are also highly creative. They are more responsive to visual lessons and such approaches help them find their identity (Salend 2011). They then tend to also better express their ideas to others, in turn, developing their self-efficacy. The research so far answers the first research question stated by showcasing how dyslexia affects teenagers.
The second research question inquires on the relationship between dyslexia and juvenile delinquency among teenagers. The question goes hand in hand with the third aspect, loss of control, as stipulated by Burden (2008). The scholar argues that the aspect of loss of control can cause delinquency among teenagers with dyslexia. One of the reasons this is so is the fact that they try to gain control through other activities. This does not mean that children with dyslexia are hostile or violent but rather also have developmental issues that have to be resolved early in order for them to become responsible adults.
It is arguable that the unstable emotions can lead to deliquesce of some kind. Livingston, Siegel, and Ribary (2018) explain that dyslexia has a great emotional impact on individuals. This is not only due to the way other people perceive them, but also due to the way their brains work. The scholars add that there are numerous social and emotional consequences of having dyslexia. In regard to the social significances, Livingston, Siegel, and Ribary (2018) explain that the need to socialize with others differs between dyslexic and non-dyslexic teenagers with regards to intensity. A teenager with dyslexia might feel like socializing is significantly intense due to the fact that they have difficulty with words. Arguably, socialization at the specified age is mainly determined by speech and words. It is disputable that there are numerous ways socialization can be made easier for teenagers with learning disabilities. There is a debate on the importance of teaching other children tolerance of differences in an attempt to also help children with learning disorders. Whether these strategies are successful or not has to be investigated further.
It can be argued that dyslexia can affect day to day activities. According to Burden (2008), the last consideration of self-esteem among people with dyslexia is negative attitudes. It is important to note that daily activities are greatly affected by the type of attitude one has towards the same. An example can be given to explain the concept further. Two boys wake up in the morning to do chores. The first boy has a positive attitude and diligently wakes up early every day to do the work. On the other hand, the second boy has a negative attitude. Therefore, he keeps waking up late, doing the work slowly, and his work is subpar. From the example, one can debate that the only thing differentiating the two boys is their attitude.
The same argument can be applied to dyslexia and non-dyslexia people. The fact that their attitude varies makes it difficult to also continuously enjoy day to day activities. It can be stated that teenagers with dyslexia also find themselves at a disadvantage as people relate illiteracy with bad attitude and crime. Therefore, the society does not see the need to understand why they are unable to perform in class but rather blame their “refusal” to study to their unacceptable behavior. On the same note, daily events have to be carefully considered in order to avoid embarrassment and bullying. This can be attributed to the previously mentioned fact that socialization often requires speech and other forms of words-related activities. The difficulty to express themselves using words properly also makes this process more difficult for people with dyslexia.
Despite all the challenges that dyslexia has, especially at individual level, it can be argued that the condition offers several benefits to the society. The first benefit is that it contributes to the richness and uniqueness of society. As stated, children with dyslexia view some aspects of the world differently. For example, they perceive themselves through a different lens compared to other teenagers. This unique way of looking at one’s self and the world around can be used to better understand human beings and their reactions to various things. Secondly, the condition allows teenagers to be highly creative. This premise does not in any way suggest that creative people have dyslexia. However, due to the fact that their mind works slightly differently, people with learning disabilities tend to be more creative.
Additionally, their creativity arises from the fact that they also tend to appreciate visual as opposed to textual material. It is arguable that due to this, they also tend to be keener on the visual aspects of their surroundings. It is critical to point out that there are numerous things that the government has done in an attempt to promote the wellbeing of people living with dyslexia. For instance, there are policies that protect them, their work, and their future. Additionally, there are numerous programs that have been created to help people with dyslexia learn as well. It is imperative that more teachers and educators should be versed with the different ways they can help children with dyslexia in their classrooms.
In conclusion, dyslexia is a learning disability that is caused by neurodevelopment problems. It is important to note that like other learning disorders, dyslexia is often diagnosed from birth. However, there are adults who can get the condition due to accidents and hard blows to the head. There are numerous forms of learning disabilities but dyslexia is the most common. One of the main concerns when discussing dyslexia is the stigma that is attached to the condition. This is due to the fact that many communities believe that for one to be successful, they have to be good with words. People who do not perform well in class or are slow in the normal curriculum are often shunned upon by both teachers and pupils alike.
The research study was looking into four primary questions in an attempt to better understand whether dyslexia affects teenagers. The research questions presented were: how does dyslexia affect teenagers? Is there a relationship between dyslexia and juvenile delinquency among teenagers? Can dyslexia affect day to day activities of teenagers? Does dyslexia offer any benefits or holdbacks for the society at large? The research has shown that, indeed, dyslexia has an impact on the day to day life of a teenager. Interestingly, the condition affects a person’s self-esteem as well, making it much harder to socialize well. Additionally, the condition affects one’s attitudes, which makes it difficult for one to do their daily activities. Further, apart from the challenges, the condition is helpful to the society as individuals with dyslexia are also significantly creative. Thus, they can still be successful without the traditional approach to learning. It is important to note that there is significant work that has been done to ensure people with dyslexia have similar opportunities as the rest of the population. Despite this, more has to be achieved to ensure this becomes a reality.
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