About Dyslexia


About Dyslexia


Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and / or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.**

  • Some studies have shown that individuals with dyslexia process information in a different area of the brain than do non-dyslexics.
  • Many people who are dyslexic are of average to above average intelligence.

**Adopted by the IDA Board of Directors, Nov. 12, 2002. This Definition is also used by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).


Fact Sheets about dyslexia


Signs and Symptoms

  • Lack of awareness of sounds in words, rhymes, or sequence of sounds and syllables in words
  • Difficulty with word identification
  • Difficulty with spelling
  • Poor sequencing of numbers, of letters in words, when read or written
  • Difficulty expressing thoughts in written form
  • Delayed spoken language
  • Imprecise or incomplete interpretation of language that is heard
  • Difficulty in expressing thoughts orally

Are there other learning disabilities besides dyslexia?

Dyslexia is one type of learning disability. Others include…

  • Dyscalculia – a mathematical disability in which a person has unusual difficulty solving arithmetic problems and grasping math concepts.
  • Dysgraphia – a neurological-based writing disability in which a person finds it hard to form letters or write within a defined space.

Are Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) learning disabilities?

  • No, while they can affect learning, they are considered behavioral in nature.
  • An individual can have more than one learning or behavioral disorder. In various studies as many as 50% of those diagnosed with a learning or reading difference have also been diagnosed with ADHD.
  • Although disabilities may co-occur, one is not the cause of the other.

How common are language-based learning disabilities?

  • 15-20% of the population have a language-based learning disability of varying levels.
  • Of the students with specific learning disabilities receiving special education services, 70-80% have deficits in reading.
  • Dyslexia is the most common cause of reading, writing and spelling difficulties.
  • Dyslexia affects males and females nearly equally, and people from different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds as well.

Can individuals who are dyslexic learn to read?

  • Yes, if children who are dyslexic get effective phonological training in Kindergarten and 1st grade, they will have significantly fewer problems in learning to read at grade level than do children who are not identified or helped until 3rd grade.
  • 74% of the children who are poor readers in 3rd grade remain poor readers in the 9th grade. Often they can’t read well as adults either.
  • It is never too late for individuals with dyslexia to learn to read, process and express information more efficiently. Research shows that programs utilizing multisensory structured language techniques can help children and adults learn to read.

How do people get dyslexia?

The causes for dyslexia are neurobiological and genetic. Individuals inherit the genetic links for dyslexia. Chances are that one of the child’s parents, grandparents, aunts, or uncles is dyslexic.


Is there a cure for dyslexia?

  • No, dyslexia is not a disease. There is no cure.
  • With proper diagnosis, appropriate instruction, hard work and support from family, teachers, friends, and others, individuals who are dyslexic can succeed in school and later as working adults.

Are there specific professions people with dyslexia should pursue?

No, individuals can succeed in varied fields despite their dyslexia. Examples include:

  • Ann Bancroft – First woman in history to cross the ice to both the North and South Poles. Web site: www.yourexpedition.com
  • David Boies – Trial lawyer whose high-profile clients have included former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, Jr., Napster, and the U.S. Justice Dept. in its antitrust suit against Microsoft.
  • Erin Brokovich – Real-life heroine who exposed a cover-up by a major California utility that was contaminating the local water supply. Their actions had severe, even deadly consequences to the members of the community. With her help, the townspeople were awarded a $333 million settlement, the largest ever in a U.S. direct-action lawsuit. (Julia Roberts played her in the movie with the same name.)
  • Stephen J. Cannell – Author and Emmy Award-winning TV producer and writer, who has created or co-created more than 38 shows, of which he has scripted more than 350 episodes and produced or executive produced more than 1,500 episodes. His hits include “The Rockford Files,” “A-Team,” “21 Jump Street,” “Wiseguy,” “Renegade” and “Silk Stalkings.” Web site: www.cannell.com
  • Whoopi Goldberg – Actor and comedian, winner of an Academy Award for her supporting role in “Ghost,” also an Academy Award nomination for her role in “The Color Purple.”

How do I know if a person is dyslexic?

If a person exhibits several of the characteristics listed in “Common Signs of Dyslexia” and the difficulties are unexpected for the person’s age, educational level, or cognitive abilities, the person should be tested by an educational diagnostician or a team of trained professionals. (It is important to note that the “Common Signs” are indicators, not proof of dyslexia. The only way to verify that an individual is dyslexic is through testing by a qualified examiner/s.)

Few people with dyslexia exhibit all the signs of the disorder. Some common signs are:

  • Lack of awareness of sounds in words, rhymes, or sequence of sounds and syllables in words
  • Difficulty decoding words – word identification
  • Difficulty encoding words – spelling
  • Poor sequencing of numbers, of letters in words, when read or written, e.g.: b-d; sing-sign; left-felt; soiled-solid; scared-sacred; 12-21
  • Difficulty expressing thoughts in written form
  • Delayed spoken language
  • Imprecise or incomplete interpretation of language that is heard
  • Difficulty in expressing thoughts orally
  • Problems with reading comprehension
  • Confusion about directions in space or time (right and left, up and down, early and late, yesterday and tomorrow, months and days)
  • Confusion about right or left handedness
  • Difficulty with handwriting
  • Difficulty in mathematics – often related to sequencing of steps or directionality or the language of mathematics

Sources

  • Basic Facts about Dyslexia: What Every Layperson Ought to Know – Copyright 1993, 2nd ed. 1998. The International Dyslexia Association, Baltimore, MD.
  • Learning Disabilities: Information, Strategies, Resources – Copyright 2000. Coordinated Campaign for Learning Disabilities, a collaboration of the leading U.S. non-profit learning disabilities organization. Used with permission.
  • Research studies sponsored by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD.

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