What Is 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 typicallyresult 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.

Definition of Dyslexia 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).

What are the signs of dyslexia?
The problems displayed by individuals with dyslexia involve difficulties in acquiring and using written language. It is a myth that individuals with dyslexia “read backwards,” although spelling can look quite jumbled at times because students have trouble remembering letter symbols for sounds and forming memories for words. Other problems experienced by people with dyslexia include the following:
• Learning to speak
• Learning letters and their sounds
• Organizing written and spoken language
• Memorizing number facts
• Reading quickly enough to comprehend
• Persisting with and comprehending longer reading assignments
• Spelling
• Learning a foreign language
• Correctly doing math operations

Not all students who have difficulties with these skills have dyslexia. Formal testing of reading, language, and writing skills is the only way to confirm a diagnosis of suspected dyslexia.

How is dyslexia treated?
Dyslexia is a lifelong condition. With proper help, many people with dyslexia can learn to read and write well. Early identification and treatment is the key to helping individuals with dyslexia achieve in school and in life. Most people with dyslexia need help from a teacher, tutor, or therapist specially trained in using a multi-sensory, structured language approach. It is important for these individuals to be taught by a systematic and explicit method that involves several senses (hearing, seeing, touching) at the same time. Many individuals with dyslexia need one-on-one help so that they can move forward at their own pace. In addition, students with dyslexia often need a great deal of structured practice and immediate, corrective feedback to develop automatic word recognition skills. For students with dyslexia, it is helpful if their outside academic therapists work closely with classroom teachers.

International Dyslexia Association. (2012). Dyslexia Basics [Fact Sheet]. Retrieved from www.interdys.org

Have more questions?
Watch the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) video “What is Dyslexia?”or their webpage Unerstanding Dyslexia.
Request a copy of the Dyslexia Toolkit from the National Center for Learning Disabilities
Refer the International Dyslexia Association’s (IDA) Fact Sheets or Frequently Asked Questions About Dyslexia
Refer to the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity article I have dyslexia. What does it mean?