October is Dyslexia Awareness Month, a time to shed light on what dyslexia truly is. Read on for helpful insights!
Dyslexia Facts & Myths
The most difficult challenge for students with dyslexia is learning how to read. Structured Literacy is a program proven to help students with dyslexia. This program prepares students to decode words in an explicit and systematic manner. This approach not only helps with dyslexia, but there is substantial evidence that it is effective for all readers. At The Village Tutors, our team has been using these evidence-based, multisensory Orton-Gillingham methodologies for over 20 years through the Wilson Reading System.
Here are some common myths:
Myth: Dyslexia is just another word for a reading disorder, or a general “catch-all” term
Fact: Dyslexia is a neurologically based difference that refers to a very specific set of assets and deficits that affect more than just reading. The official definition of dyslexia agreed upon in the scientific community, recognized by the International Dyslexia Association (IDA), supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and adopted by the Illinois State Board of Education is as follows:
"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 consequence may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge."
Dyslexia can affect the ability to speak, read, spell, write, do math and/or learn a second language. The condition can occur at all levels of intelligence, including average, high average and highly gifted. Dyslexics often exhibit strengths in creativity and out-of-the-box thinking, and they usually learn best via highly multi-sensory instruction and hands-on, experiential learning opportunities.
Myth: Writing letters and words backwards are the most prominent signs of dyslexia.
Fact: Only about 1/3 of dyslexics read and write letters/numbers backwards. Dyslexia does not cause children to see letters, numbers, and words backwards or inverted. However, some children with dyslexia may confuse letters, misread words, or have difficulty forming letters as a result of the lack of phonological skills (Moats, 1999).
Myth: Dyslexia cannot be diagnosed until 3rd grade.
Fact: Early intervention is critical to the success of students with dyslexia. Assessments of phonemic awareness - including letter knowledge, speed of naming, and end sound-symbol association - can be completed as early as kindergarten. In fact, symptoms of dyslexia can even be evident in preschool such as difficulty learning to rhyme, learning the names of colors and shapes, learning the names of numbers and/or letters, etc.
Research has shown that the vast majority of students who are struggling to learn early literacy skills by the end of kindergarten will continue to struggle in the third grade without explicit, intensive structured literacy instruction.
Myth: An individual with dyslexia will never learn to read.
Fact: Children with dyslexia can learn to read at grade level IF they receive early evidence based intervention and structured instruction. The earlier struggling children are identified and provided systematic, explicit, and intense instruction, the less severe their problems are likely to be (Torgesen, 2002). With provision of intensive instruction, even older children with dyslexia can become accurate, albeit slow readers (Torgesen, et. al, 2001).
Myth: Dyslexia is not common and/or over-diagnosed.
Fact: Dyslexia affects 20 percent of the population, that is 1 in 5 children, and represents 80-90 percent of all those with learning disabilities. It is the most common of all neuro-cognitive disorders. (Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity). The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) further notes that the most common type of reading, writing, and/or spelling disability is dyslexia. These numbers quickly dispel the myth that dyslexia is rare.
Myth: There is a test to determine if an individual has dyslexia.
Fact: There is no single test for dyslexia nor can it be confirmed or ruled out by a single test of reading, a screening of reading, or other standardized tests. A comprehensive evaluation must be administered to diagnose dyslexia. The evaluation must include assessment by a pediatric neuropsychologist. Diagnosis of dyslexia also requires extensive gathering of developmental information as well as parent and teacher reports and qualitative observations of the student.
We hope you’ve gained valuable insights on dyslexia, and now better understand the learning challenge. If you have a student who you believe may be struggling with dyslexia or any other learning differences, do not hesitate to contact our team. We have a wide range of expertise in the area of dyslexia, and welcome the opportunity to support your student and family!