What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a word of Greek origin, dys means problem, and lexia means language, so dyslexia simply means a problem with words. It falls under the umbrella of language disorders and research shows that language comprehension and expression problems in young children are often associated with later reading difficulty. It is a natural biological variation in the wiring of the brain in which language is processed differently, both written and oral, than in the general population. Basically the brain of a dyslexic person is not wired efficiently for language, but they may have strengths in other areas such as math, music, art, problem solving, or in fields that require visual/spatial ability such as design and architecture.

Dyslexia affects nearly 20% of the population, males and females equally, as well as people from different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. Dyslexia is the most common learning disability affecting nearly 1 in 5 people to some degree. Nearly 80% of students that are receiving supplemental instruction for reading are dyslexic. In a typical classroom of 25 students, as many as 5 of those students could be dyslexic. Dyslexia is more common than ADD/ADHD and autism and the below figures are approximate:

1 in 5 have dyslexia
1 in 14 have ADD/ADHD
1 in 88 have autism
1 in 2 people with ADD/ADHD is also dyslexic

Below is a list of warning signs and a dyslexic child will have at least several of these symptoms. Also, dyslexia tends to run in families, and if a close family member is dyslexic, chances are 50% that a child will be dyslexic as well.

Preschool Age

✓ Delayed speech
✓Articulation problems
✓ Mispronunciation of words (bisghetti for spaghetti, aminal for animal, continents for consonant)
✓ Saying the wrong word or forgetting the word (expressive language)
✓ Difficulty rhyming words
✓ Difficulty manipulating the sounds of speech (what is the word if the /t/ sound in ✓ CAT is changed to an /n/ sound?)
✓ Difficulty remembering letter names and their speech sound(s)

School Age

✓ Difficulty learning sight words
✓ Difficulty spelling words, especially retaining the correct spelling after a test
✓ Misreading words
✓ Slow and choppy reading
✓ Problems with word recall
✓ Problems with rote memorization
✓ frustration
✓ anxiety
✓ low self-esteem

The research is clear:

If a child falls behind in 1st grade, they will have a 1 in 8 chance of ever catching up to grade level without extraordinary efforts. 74% of children who are poor readers in 3rd grade will remain poor readers in 9th grade. High school graduation can be predicted with reasonable accuracy by knowing a child’s reading skill by the end of 3rd grade. A child that is a poor reader in 1st grade will continue to be a poor reader in 3rd grade unless they receive the appropriate intervention.

The International Dyslexia Association’s definition:

“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.

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).

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.