Understanding Dyslexia

Dyslexia is a learning disability involving difficulties with different forms of language. These can include problems with reading, spelling, understanding spoken language and/or expressing oneself in speaking or writing.

Dyslexia, like other learning disabilities, is not related to intelligence. An unexpected gap exists between a person’s academic achievement and their intellectual ability (which may be very high).

People with dyslexia may have talents in many areas, in addition to their areas of difficulty. Each person’s pattern of strengths and weaknesses is unique to them. In other words, no two dyslexics are alike. That is why assessment is very important.

Common Signs of Dyslexia:

Early signs

  • difficulty learning to talk
  • difficulty listening and following directions
  • difficulty remembering
  • difficulty pronouncing words correctly or expressing ideas clearly

In school

  • difficulty learning the alphabet
  • difficulty sequencing letters or numbers
  • difficulty rhyming
  • difficulty with sequence and memory for words
  • difficulty learning to read, write and spell

About Phonological Processing

Extensive studies have shown that children diagnosed with dyslexia consistency differ from other children in an ability called “phonological processing”. Phonological processing involves the ability to notice, think about, and manipulate the individual sounds in words (phonemes).

A phoneme is the smallest sound portion of a word, smaller than a syllable. Children have to be able to hear and distinguish phonemes in words before they can attach letters or letter combinations to them. Rhyming is an early activity encouraging the development of “phoneme” awareness.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Diagnosis of dyslexia is based on a comprehensive assessment that may include tests of: intellectual ability, expressive and receptive language (both oral and written), academic achievement in reading, spelling, vocabulary, comprehension, handwriting and composition. Recommendations for educational remediation should be contained in a written report.

Appropriate remedial programming for dyslexia may include the following:

  • direct instruction of language skills and concepts.
  • systematic, step-by-step sequential teaching of the alphabetic phonic system of language
  • multisensory instruction, involving seeing, listening, touching and doing

Dyslexia is something that people are born with, and in many cases there appears to be a family history. Ongoing research is documenting differences in the structure and organization of the brains of people with dyslexia.

Dyslexia is not outgrown, but with appropriate education, understanding and time, many people with dyslexia learn to read and write, and go on to develop their special abilities and talents. They may be very successful in their chosen careers. A number of well-known scientists, artists, athletes and business and political leaders have dyslexia.