Dyslexia is defined as a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin in which reading accurately and/or fluently is a struggle along with spelling and decoding abilities. This can often impact vocabulary and comprehension. Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability that is often hereditary, or runs in families. While there are common characteristics of dyslexia, each person presents these in different ways so that dyslexia may look different from person to person.
An estimated one in five students, or 15-20% of the population, has a language-based learning disability such as dyslexia. Dyslexia is the most common of these and affects boys and girls equally as well as across different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. (Sources: The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity, International Dyslexia Association, National Center for Learning Disabilities)
No. Dyslexia has no link to intelligence. Dyslexia is unexpected, meaning that it is often surprising that these students are struggling in their learning to read and spell. People with dyslexia are intelligent and with the appropriate instruction can break the code and become proficient readers. There is not a limit on what a dyslexic student can accomplish. In fact, an estimated 35% of all entrepreneurs are dyslexic. Today there is more understanding of dyslexia and more and more people are sharing their dyslexic journey, which is wonderful.
All students benefit from structured literacy instruction, but it is essential for those who are struggling or who have dyslexia. Instruction should be explicit, systematic and cumulative in delivery, and diagnostic in its monitoring. Teachers need to understand how literacy and language are linked and how to create multi-sensory learning experiences that build upon skills in a continuous and meaningful way that leads students through a progression of concepts necessary for literacy development. Instruction should be focused around the following elements: phonology and phonemic awareness, sound-symbol association and alphabetic principle, syllables, morphology, syntax, and semantics.
Myth: Dyslexics see things backwards.
Truth: Dyslexia has nothing to do with vision, and dyslexics do not see letters or words backwards. Dyslexia is a processing issue in which students struggle with the manipulation of speech sounds to print. It is normal for beginning readers to transpose letters when learning how to read.
Myth: The child just needs to try harder.
Truth: It is not a matter of effort. A dyslexic student needs more time to read and write, it is not a matter of being lazy, or not trying. Dyslexic students need appropriate instruction and accommodations.
Myth: Dyslexics aren't smart.
Truth: Dyslexia is not an issue of intelligence. People with dyslexia are quite intelligent, and are often very fast and creative thinkers.
Myth: Dyslexia goes away.
Truth: Since dyslexia is a different organization of the brain, dyslexia is lifelong. Dyslexia is not a disease, therefore there is not a "cure" for dyslexia. With appropriate intervention, dyslexics can become proficient readers and writers.