What is Dyslexia?

There are many misconceptions about dyslexia. So, before we dive into what dyslexia is, let’s start with a quick overview on what it isn’t.

Dyslexia is NOT…

1. Dyslexia is NOT a vision problem.
2. Dyslexia is NOT seeing letters backward.
3. Dyslexia is NOT caused by a lack of motivation or desire to learn.
4. Dyslexia is NOT laziness.
5. Dyslexia is NOT caused by a lack of books in the home.
6. Dyslexia is NOT an issue of intelligence.
7. Dyslexia is NOT outgrown.
8. Dyslexie is NOT rare.


Now, for what Dyslexia is …

The most recognized, widely-accepted definition of dyslexia was created and adopted by the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) on November 12, 2002:

“Dyslexia is 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 growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.”

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) also uses IDA’s definition of dyslexia.

How widespread is dyslexia?
About 5% of the school population nationwide has a learning disability in reading that qualifies them for special education. Many more people—as many as 20% of the population as a whole—have some of the symptoms of dyslexia, including slow or inaccurate reading, poor spelling, poor writing, or mixing up similar words. Even though they may not qualify for special education, they still struggle with many aspects of academic learning.

There is a lack of effective training and instruction for teachers about dyslexia.  Teachers often receive no training on dyslexia. This includes general education teachers, reading specialists and special education teachers.  As a result, many North Carolina families whose children demonstrate characteristics of dyslexia are struggling to secure effective reading instruction for their children within public schools. There is no systematic screening of students with dyslexia and very few opportunities for the research-based instruction that is needed for these students. This is not a “failing school” issue. This is an issue that affects families in all school districts across our state regardless of demographics.

“As with other learning disabilities, dyslexia is a lifelong challenge that people are born with. This language processing disorder can hinder reading, writing, spelling and sometimes even speaking. Dyslexia is not a sign of poor intelligence or laziness. It is also not the result of impaired vision. Children and adults with dyslexia simply have a neurological disorder that causes their brains to process and interpret information differently. 

Dyslexia occurs among people of all economic and ethnic backgrounds. Often more than one member of a family has dyslexia. According to the National Institute of Child and Human Development, as many as 15 percent of Americans have major troubles with reading.” 

-The National Center for Learning Disabilities’ Definition of Dyslexia

What are the signs of dyslexia?

The signs of dyslexia can appear as early as preschool. The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity has a list of signs a parent can look for from the preschool years through high school and that adults can reference for themselves. The “Signs of Dyslexia” list is pulled from the book, “Overcoming Dyslexia” by Sally Shaywitz.