What is Dyslexia?

In my last post I discussed the myths surrounding dyslexia. This week I would like to discuss what we know about dyslexia. As I shared in my last post, there are over 30 years of well-documented research on dyslexia. The Connecticut Longitudinal Study is one such study. It began in 1978 and followed 445 children beginning in kindergarten, according to Sally Shaywitz, M.D. in Overcoming Dyslexia. There are international organizations, such as the International Dyslexia Association that share information to educate teachers and parents on dyslexia. So, what is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a language processing disorder. It is represented by a cluster of symptoms which result in difficulties in reading, spelling, pronunciation, and learning a second language. Other symptoms may include difficulty rhyming, remembering isolated pieces of verbal information, summoning oral responses, and remembering names. Those with dyslexia do not see letters backward, but may have difficulty associating a letter with a sound.

These difficulties have no correlation to the person’s overall intelligence. What has created some confusion about dyslexia is that it is an unexpected reading and spelling difficulty in someone who has the intelligence to be a much better reader. Dyslexics often exhibit a large vocabulary for their age group, an ability to solve puzzles, build models, and have great imaginations. They often have the ability to think “outside the box” and have great problem solving skills.

According to the International Dyslexia Association, it is estimated that between 15-20% of the overall population suffers from some symptoms of dyslexia. It can range from mild to severe and is a life-long disorder. The effects of dyslexia on a person’s life depends on the severity of the condition and the quality of the instruction and remediation that they receive. The exact causes of dyslexia are unknown.

If you would like more information on dyslexia, I recommend Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz, M.D. Also, the International Dyslexia Association has a great website with great resources. Go to https://dyslexiaida.org/ for more information.

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