32 million Nigerians struggle with learning disorder – Foundation

Doctors attending to patients used to illustrate the story
Doctors attending to patients used to illustrate the story

Over 32 million Nigerians are struggling with reading, writing, spelling, comprehension difficulties and other symptoms of dyslexia, a group supporting people with the condition has stated.

The Dyslexia Foundation in Nigeria said those with the condition in and out of school face educational exclusion and negative life outcomes on account of dyslexia.

Dyslexia is a learning disorder that involves difficulty in reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words.

It is called reading disability and affects areas of the brain that process language.

People with dyslexia have normal intelligence and usually have normal vision. Most children with the condition can succeed in school with tutoring or a specialised education programme. Emotional support is also important for them.

Statistics revealed that one in 10 people have dyslexia. Over 40 million American adults are dyslexic, while only two million know it.

The chairman, Board of Trustees of the foundation, Ben Arikpo, said about one in every three Nigerian children have the condition.

He spoke at a press briefing in Abuja on Friday ahead of the “International Dyslexia Awareness Month and the 2nd National Conference on Dyslexia in Nigeria.”

The conference will hold on October 29, 2018.

According to Mr Arikpo, awareness support system and necessary accommodation for persons with dyslexia and related learning disorders do not exist in Nigeria’s educational system.

“In the workplace, there are no policies to protect the rights of people with dyslexia. Consequently, the culture of silence and denial prevail and many people with dyslexia are afraid to come public with their status despite many advantages they posses,” he said.

He said children and individuals with dyslexia are at risk of lifelong challenges along with the many negative social and economic consequences without early identification and remediation.

“Though there’s no cure for dyslexia, early assessment and intervention result in the best outcome. Sometimes dyslexia goes undiagnosed for years and is not recognised until adulthood, but it is never too late to seek help,” Mr Arikpo said.

He urged Nigerian government to issue licences for brain training centre as this will go a long way in resolving dyslexia and further develop the education system.

“Constant brain exercise can help resolve dyslexia and it can be detected once a child is three years. But there cannot be intervention except the child is five years old.

“A study done by a post graduate student from University of Port Harcourt reveals that one in three children are with dyslexia,” he concluded.

The dyslexia foundation, which is the only one in Nigeria, said statistics on dyslexia are troubling.

It noted that 30 per cent of teachers attending dyslexia training never heard about it before the training, while 65 per cent did not know how to describe dyslexia.

The foundation also said 74 per cent did not know the correct signs and symptoms of dyslexia.

A video went viral of the Inspector-General of Police, Idris Ibrahim, stammering as he read his own prepared speech.

Some Nigerians, however, said Mr Ibrahim might be suffering from dyslexia while others said he should go for an IQ test.

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