Dyslexia is one of several distinct learning disabilities. It is a specific language-based disorder of constitutional origin characterized by difficulties in single word decoding, usually reflecting insufficient phonological processing abilities. These difficulties in single word decoding are often unexpected in relation to age and other cognitive and academic abilities; they are not the result of generalized developmental disability or sensory impairment. Dyslexia is manifest by variable difficulty with different forms of language, often including, in addition to problems reading, a conspicuous problem with acquiring proficiency in writing and spelling.
The Definition of Dyslexia as adopted by the Research Committee of IDA, May 11, 1994 and by the National Institutes of Health, 1994. Studies show 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.
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, they are behavioral disorders.
An individual can have more than one learning or behavioral disability. 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.
15-20% of the population have a language-based learning disability. 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.
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 multi-sensory structured language techniques can help children and adults learn to read.
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.
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.
No, individuals can succeed in varied fields despite their dyslexia. Examples include:
- Barbara Corcoran – American businesswoman, entrepreneur, real estate mogul, and star of “Shark Tank.” Website: http://www.barbaracorcoran.com/
- Ann Bancroft – First woman in history to cross the ice to both the North and South Poles.
Web site: http://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: http://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.”
Click here for a list of other well-known people thought to have dyslexia or other learning disabilities. None of these people are letting dyslexia hold them back, so encourage students to focus on their strengths and interests!
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 examiners.)
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.
FROM THE INTERNATIONAL DYSLEXIA ASSOCIATION