Facts About Dyslexia

What is dyslexia?

Definition of dyslexia from the International Dyslexia Association

What does dyslexia mean?

What causes dyslexia?

What are some of the characteristics of dyslexia?

How is dyslexia diagnosed?

How old do you have to be to be diagnosed with dyslexia?

What are the effects of dyslexia?

Strengths of dyslexics

Who are some famous dyslexics?

How is dyslexia treated?

Can dyslexia be “cured”?

Web Sites for Dyslexia

What is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a medical condition that results in individuals having difficulty in the areas of language processing. Dyslexia is the most common learning disability. It affects approximately 1 out of every 5 individuals in our country. It is a neurological condition that requires an educational treatment.

Individuals with dyslexia process information in a different part of the brain than do non-dyslexics. Individuals with dyslexia tend to be creative and exhibit a high level of intelligence – it has nothing to do with IQ!

Definition of dyslexia from the International Dyslexia Association:

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.


Non-dyslexics use three areas on the left side of the brain
to process language. The center area is for automatic word





Dyslexics tend to use the right side of the brain to process
language, which is an inefficient method. They have great difficulty remembering words they have recently encountered, and their processing speed tends to be





What does dyslexia mean?

dys = difficulty     lex = words   Term was coined in the 1800’s.
Plato and ancient Greeks were aware of phenomenon.

What causes dyslexia?

While there are cases of “acquired” dyslexia, caused by trauma, the majority of dyslexia is inherited. Researchers have identified a gene that is responsible for dyslexia. If one parent has dyslexia, 50% of their children will have it. If both parents are dyslxic, 100% of their children will be.

What are some of the characteristics of dyslexia?

Individuals with dyslexia usually have some of the following characteristics:

Difficulty with language

  • Late in learning to talk (not speaking any words by first birthday

  • Difficulty pronouncing words (may say aminal for animal, hagaberg for hamburger, mazageen or magazine etc.)

  • Difficulty acquiring vocabulary or using age appropriate grammar

  • Difficulty following directions

  • Confusion with before / after, right/left, over/under and so on

  • Difficulty learning the alphabet, nursery rhymes, or songs

  • Difficulty with word retrieval

  • Difficulty learning phone number and address

Difficulty with reading

  • Difficulty learning to read

  • Difficulty identifying or generating rhyming words, or counting syllables in words(Phonological Awareness)

  • Difficulty with hearing and manipulating individual sounds in words (Phonemic Awareness)

  • Difficulty distinguishing different sounds in words (Auditory Discrimination)

  • Difficulty in learning the sounds of letters

  • Difficulty remembering names and / or shapes of letters

  • Reverses letters or the order of letters when reading (may say was for saw, girl for grill, who for how etc.)

  • Misreads or omits common small words

  • Substitutes similar-looking words, even if it changes the meaning of the sentence (house for horse, sunshine for surprise, while for white etc.)

  • “Stumbles” through longer words

  • Poor reading comprehension during oral or silent reading

  • Slow, laborious oral reading

Difficulty with written language

  • Difficulty putting ideas on paper

  • Many spellling mistakes

  • May do well on weekly spelling tests, but does not carry over to written work

  • Difficulty proofreading

  • Poor Handwriting / unusual pencil grip

  • Late establishing a dominant hand

Information from The International Dyslexia Association
and Bright Solutions for Dyslexia, LLC

How is dyslexia diagnosed?

A formal diagnosis of dyslexia requires testing by a licensed clinical psychologist. Dyslexia is not specifically listed as an area of disability in either the federal or state law when it comes to eductional testing done in the schools, but it falls under the general category of  “learning disabled”. Students with dyslexia may meet the criteria for learning disabled (LD) and could then receive services under that “umbrella”. The diagnosis of dyslexia by medical personnel or other providers outside of the school setting does not automatically qualify a student for special educational services in the schools.

How old do you have to be to be diagnosed with dyslexia?

Children can be identified as having a potential for reading difficulty as early as 5 1/2. Assessments of  Phonemic Awareness skills and Rapid Automatic Naming skills are good predictors of future reading difficulty.

What are the effects of dyslexia?

The impact of dyslexia varies from person to person. Dyslexia ranges from mild to severe. About 40% of those with dyslexia also have AD/HD.  The most common effects are problems with reading, spelling, and writing. In addition, some dyslexics have difficulty with spoken language. It may be difficult for them to express themselves clearly. This can have a negative impact in school and work settings.

Dyslexia can also affect a person’s self-image. They may see themselves as “dumb”. In time they may pull away from relationships and become discouraged about staying in school.  It can also cause problems within the family.

Dyslexics use about 5 times more energy completing mental tasks than non-dyslexics. They can quickly become fatigued and are often accused of  being lazy or of not trying hard enough.

Strengths of dyslexics

Many dyslexics have gifts in areas controlled by the right hemisphere of the brain. The right side controls: artistic skills, athletic ability, musical ability, and mechanical ability. Dyslexics tend to have good people skills, and vivid imaginations. They are very curious and are creative global thinkers.

Who are some famous dyslexics?

  • Alexander Graham Bell

  • Albert Einstein

  • Tom Cruise

  • Elvis Presley

  • Jay Leno

  • Whoopi Goldberg

  • Henry Ford

  • Robin Williams

  • Magic Johnson

  • Cher

  • Mozart

  • Benjamin Franklin

  • John F. Kennedy

  • Jason Kidd

  • Henry Winkler

How is dyslexia treated?

Dyslexia is a life-long condition, but with proper help people with dyslexia can learn to read and write well. Dyslexics need to be taught specific rules for reading and spelling. Instruction needs to be specific, explicit, and multisensory (involving hearing, seeing, saying, and touching). One-on-one instruction seems to work best for these individuals.

In the school setting, academic modifications can help dyslexic students succeed. They can be given extra time for tests (reading rates tend to be slow in dyslexics), provided a quiet place to work, tests can be read out loud, they can be given copies of notes (handwriting tends to be slow and laborious), they can be given books on tape, they can have reduced assignments (it takes dyslexics 5 times longer to complete an assignment).

Can dyslexia be “cured”?

While dyslexia cannot be “cured”, research has shown that students who are tutored with an Orton-Gilllingham based/influenced, multisensory phonics program, can “retrain” the brain and become successful readers.   

Web Sites for Dyslexia

Barton Reading: www.bartonreading.com

Bright Solutions for Dyslexia: www.BrightSolutions.us

The International Dyslexia Association:  www.interdys.org

Learning Disabilities Association:  www.ldanatl.org

LD On Line:  www.ldonline.org

National Center for Learning Disabilities:  www.ncld.org

Council for Exceptional Children (CEC):  www.cec.sped.org

Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic:  www.learningally.org

National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NCHD): www.nichd.nih.gov

For childrenwww.professorgarfield.org

Local Literacy web site:  Battle Creek Community Literacy Collaborative: www.battlecreekliteracy.org

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