What is dyslexia? Dyslexia can be evidenced in many different ways, in many people- even within families. What can be confusing is the astounding amount of misinformation that can be found. This could range from a well-meaning neighbor or a close relative providing advice or even information found on the internet while conducting a search.
Let’s start to dispel some of the myths you may encounter by walking through a brief fact or myth quiz.
- Dyslexia occurs only in people with low or very high intellectual ability.
False! Dyslexia is a spectrum disorder, meaning the identified dyslexic could range in cognitive abilities. Deficits mostly occur in the phonological component needed for reading success.
- Dyslexia is inherited.
True! Quite often, dyslexia can be traced back to a parent, grandparent, aunt/uncle, or cousin. These relatives may have formal identification. Or they may be unidentified, but demonstrated difficulty in areas such as learning to read, reading fluency, spelling, or written expression.
- Children will grow out of their dyslexia.
False! Without remediation, unidentified or unremediated dyslexics will learn compensatory skills, but seldom reach the same level of reading acquisition that their non-dyslexic, same-age peers do. Students who have completed dyslexia remediation may still struggle with some aspects of reading, such as fluency and comprehension, but are typically much more able to function independently.
- Dyslexia-friendly fonts help to remediate dyslexia.
False! There is no evidence that dyslexia-friendly fonts help dyslexics read faster or better. Fonts are not a treatment for dyslexia because dyslexia is a language-based disability, not vision-based.
- Dyslexia can be cured by balance therapy, specialized tinted glasses, essential oils, or just reading more.
False! Individuals with dyslexia can be helped by a systematic, sequential, structured language education program.
Did any of the answers surprise you? If they did, let’s read on for additional information.
The International Dyslexia Association defines dyslexia as “a specific learning disability that is neurobiological 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 the growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.” This means that dyslexia occurs in the brain and typically, though it is a spectrum disorder, students exhibit primary challenges in fluent word recognition and spelling. These deficits could lead to additional areas of concern such as reading comprehension and written expression. Students identified as having dyslexia typically experience difficulties in phonological awareness (phonemic awareness and manipulation) which can impact those aforementioned areas in single-word decoding, single-word reading, reading fluency, and spelling.
Possible Signs of Dyslexia
Dyslexia is something the person is born with, but it can be evidenced in a variety of ways, and it can change, as the individual grows older. It is considered to be a spectrum disorder as it manifests itself differently from person to person, even within families. According to the Texas Dyslexia Handbook, here are some warning signals of possible dyslexia at various ages:
- Delay in learning to talk
- Difficulty with rhyming words, pronouncing and recalling words
- Trouble learning and naming letters of the alphabet and numbers
- Unable to recognize letters in own name
- Aversion to print and doesn’t enjoy following along if a book is read aloud
- Difficulty breaking words into smaller parts
- Difficulty remembering the names of letters or their sounds
- Difficulty decoding single words in isolation
- Difficulty spelling phonetic words or remembering letter sequences in common sight words
- Difficulty recalling the correct sounds for letters and letter patterns in reading
- Omitting letters in words for spelling
- Difficulty reading fluently and with prosody
- Difficulty decoding unfamiliar words in sentences using knowledge of phonics
- Reliance on picture clues, story theme, or guessing at words
- Difficulty with written expression
- Reluctance to read aloud
- Reduced vocabulary acquisition due to reduced independent reading
- Use of less complicated words in writing that are easier to spell than more appropriate words
- Reliance on listening rather than reading
Middle and High School:
- Difficulty with the management of the volume of reading and written work
- Frustration with the amount of time required and energy expended for reading
- Difficulty with written assignments
- Tendency to avoid reading (particularly for pleasure)
- Difficulty learning a foreign language
In addition, there are many strengths that those identified with dyslexia can also demonstrate. These are strengths that help support resiliency, which will help in their academics, as well as in the day-to-day social setting. According to Sally Shaywitz, some of these strengths could include:
- Great imagination
- Ability to figure things out
- Eager embrace of new ideas
- A good understanding of new concepts
- Surprising maturity
- A larger vocabulary than typical for the age group
- Enjoys solving puzzles
- Talent for building models
- Excellent comprehension of stories read or told to them
In fact, Sally Shaywitz said it best. When thinking about dyslexia, it can be considered an island of weakness, surrounded by a sea of strengths.
How To Help Your Student Identified With Dyslexia?
Research has shown that the most effective way of supporting the student with dyslexia is to provide remediation in the areas of academic weaknesses- phonological awareness, decoding, fluency, morphology, comprehension, and spelling/written language. These areas should be implemented with fidelity according to the curricula descriptors for adequate progress. In addition to a structured language curriculum, the student identified with dyslexia could be supported with classroom accommodations and/or modifications.
Dyslexia is considered a spectrum disorder, meaning that there are varying degrees of severity and weaknesses that may be evidenced from person to person. Often, the primary deficit is phonological awareness, but there could be secondary impacts on reading comprehension and written spelling. The student identified with dyslexia also has many strengths that help with social, educational, and emotional resilience. Parents and educators should work together to determine the best path to support each student identified with dyslexia. Being informed about dyslexia and the student’s educational needs can help dyslexic students thrive in all aspects of their life.
By using the Amplio platform, teachers can provide evidenced-based practices based on the science of reading, but also provide structured literacy, OG-based curricula that are VAKT by design. The curricula contain the components needed for explicit instruction and remediation for students identified with dyslexia.
Reach out today and talk to one of our experts!