Dispelling the myths and learning the truths about dyslexia is the only logical starting place when you begin the journey to understand a dyslexic child. Although many people with dyslexia have gone on to successful careers (Agatha Christie, George Patton, Sir Richard Branson, Steven Spielberg, are just a few), Charles Schwab's Secret Struggle notes “a recent Roper poll showed that 80 percent of the public and 60 percent of teachers still mistakenly associate learning difficulties with mental retardation."
As a result of ever increasing scientific research, our current understanding of dyslexia has grown enormously over the last years.
Various individuals have attempted to define dyslexia from scientific, neurological and real life observations. Of the many definitions to be found in the literature, we have chosen the following six definitions to encapsulate the most up-to-date scientific and accurate information from leading researchers. These definitions all share the understanding that dyslexia is significant difficulty with reading and/or writing that is caused by a hereditary, brain based, phonologic disability.
International Dyslexia Association
"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.”
definition of dylexia
Adopted by the IDA Board of Directors, Nov. 12, 2002. This definition is also used by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).
Dr. Sally Shaywitz
“I conceptualize dyslexia as a weakness (in getting to the sounds of language) surrounded by a sea of strengths (conceptualizing, thinking out of the box, seeing the big picture). Dyslexics think in new and original ways. As I explain in Overcoming Dyslexia, revolutionary brain imaging technology shows dyslexics use different pathways; for reading, this presents a problem; for thinking creatively, I believe, this presents an extraordinary opportunity.”
"Good News About Dyslexia... Having dyslexia can sometimes make you feel frustrated or sad. With the right help, though, you can learn to read—and even to enjoy reading—and you can be anything you want to be."
What is Dyslexia? Our students and their parents try to answer!
Drs. Brock and Fernette Eide
Redefining Dyslexia Based On Strengths
“…the dyslexic mind is not a disorder but a desirable alternative, and our primary goal should not be to fix dyslexic minds, but to understand them, nurture them, and benefit from the things they do so well. Of course there are trade-offs for reading, rote memory, etc., in having this type of mind, but if we take the right steps we can minimize the downsides and maximize the upsides.”
Dr. Maryanne Wolf
While classified as a “learning disability,” dyslexia is not a brain disorder or a disease, nor is it flipping letters backward. Often the failure to read is in direct opposition to a brain’s cognitive ability, leaving parents and teachers stymied when an otherwise intelligent child can’t spell words they’ve seen a thousand times, or put a sentence together.”
This stock market tycoon, who oversees more than $500 billion in assets, explains reading for a dyslexic person: "When I read, I can feel myself converting the written code into sounds [with my mouth] before I can process it," he explains. "Fast readers don't go through all that."
Quick Facts about Dyslexia
- Defined as significant difficulty with reading caused by a hereditary, brain based, phonologic disability.
- Symptoms include difficulty with reading, spelling and fluency.
- Frequent difficulty with rote memory (such as memorizing times tables and spelling words) and with auditory discrimination is common.
- Children will not grow out of it, but many symptoms can be remediated and overcome.
- Sometimes present with ADD, ADHD, dysgraphia, dyscalculia and dyspraxia.
- Reading programs, spelling programs, assistive technology and school accommodations can lead to successful outcomes.
Studies have shown that early intervention can help correct anomalies in brain activity in children with dyslexia. In the May 1, 2004, Biological Psychiatry, the Shaywitzes and colleagues reported that a rigorously tested “evidence-based” intervention in children ages 6 to 9 led to significant gains in reading accuracy and increased activation in key brain areas for reading. Follow-up imaging a year after the experimental period ended has shown that these improvements persisted.