HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Dubard School for Language Disorders on the campus of The University of Southern Mississippi handles many young students with learning disabilities. One of those conditions affects one in five students. The professional development coordinator for the school, Alison Webster, said that condition is dyslexia and it’s detected sooner now, thanks to early testing.
“According to the International Dyslexia Association, dyslexia is a condition, a neurobiological condition, that occurs in people who have difficulty learning to read fluently and accurately at a young age,” Webster said.
Webster said there is no known reason for what causes dyslexia, but it does run in families. Signs of the condition can be found early.
“Now, with the demands of kindergarten being so high, most of the time people are seeing difficulties in kindergarten, at the beginning of first grade,” Webster said.
Webster said one of the first signs is frustration in a child.
“Learning isn’t fun for them and they notice they are behind other students,” Webster said. “Like you and I can say cat and hat. They rhyme because the ending sounds the same. Those students do not hear that they sound the same.”
Webster said a child with dyslexia can also have articulation errors or issues speaking appropriately. This can lead to difficulty reading later. But, Webster said children with dyslexia can learn to cope with what they have been given.
“Someone who is a certified academic language therapist is often sought out to have therapy with the student on the areas that they have the most difficulty,” Webster said.
Webster said as long as there are no other conditions, with intensive therapy, a child can be back on the level as their peers in three to four years.
Webster added she wants the Pine Belt community to realize how much the City of Hattiesburg has to offer. She said there are now three universities in the Hub City that offer dyslexia therapy graduate courses, which means more certified people going out to help students with learning disorders.