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Top 5 Things to Know About Dyslexia

1. Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability.

A common myth of people with dyslexia is that they always switch letters around when reading and writing. Although sometimes true, this is not a leading indicator or even a common symptom. Individuals affected by dyslexia have difficulty interpreting sounds and attaching those sounds to letters. Without knowing which letters make what sounds, it can be extremely confusing to learn how to read and spell.

Another issue presented by dyslexia is that is can slow down a person's ability to remember words while reading. Researchers at the University of Michigan explain that rapid letter and word recall, our ability to quickly recognize words, affects our ability to read fluently.

Someone with dyslexia might not be able to rapidly recall letters and words, which means they take longer to get through text and likely forget what they had read previously. Our brains can only hold information for so long, which means if you spend a long time reading one sentence, you probably will have to go back and re-read the sentences you read several minutes ago.

2. Dyslexia has no correlation with intelligence.

The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity writes, "dyslexia is an unexpected difficulty in reading in an individual who has the intelligence to be a much better reader." Dyslexia has a neurological basis, meaning the brains of those with dyslexia are wired differently than those not affected by it. Children who grow up with dyslexia do not necessarily have other developmental problems; their trouble with reading comprehension does not impact other cognitive abilities.

Most IQ tests for individuals with dyslexia show average or better than average results. In fact, research has been conducted to study the link between IQ and dyslexia. It has been established that, in general, a higher IQ correlates with better reading abilities. However, in the case of those with dyslexia, it doesn't.

Dr. Sally Shaywitz and Dr. Bennett Shaywitz at Yale University took fMRI images of the brains of dyslexic children that showed that the area in charge of language, Broca's area, was less active during reading. This impacted their reading scores on tests, but not their IQ results.

3. There are signs to look out for that may signal a need for testing.

Children with dyslexia can get easily discouraged with reading and writing, so it's important for parents and teachers to recognize when their child's struggles are due to a learning disability, not for lack of effort or not paying attention in class.

The most telling sign of dyslexia is having trouble remembering letters and their sounds. This impacts a person's ability to learn how to read, spell, and write. It can also significantly slow down their reading speed. Without a good grasp on the basics, it is much harder to read and comprehend complex reading assignments later on. Additionally, dyslexia can make it difficult to learn a new language or memorize math facts.

Researchers at the University of Michigan give phonological tasks (tasks involving the sound units in words) to test individuals for dyslexia. They test for rhyming ability, syllable separation, and sound identification, among other language tasks that would be difficult to do for a dyslexic individual.

If you think your child may have dyslexia, it is in their best interest to get them evaluated as soon as possible to keep their education goals on track. Visit for more information about what an evaluation involves and how to find a provider near you.

4. Dyslexia is very common among the general population.

Dyslexia is a lot more common than you may think. The amount of people in the US affected by dyslexia has been estimated to be as high as 20% of the general population. For students categorized as having a learning disability, about 85% of them have a reading or language disability. (Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity; International Dyslexia Association)

Dyslexia can occur in people from all different backgrounds and is affected by genetics. There is debate on whether dyslexia affects more boys than girls. Several studies have found boys are more likely than girls to have dyslexia. However, some scientists, such as the previously mentioned Dr. Sally Shaywitz and Dr. Bennett Shaywitz, report this likelihood may be due to boys being referred for testing more often because of their rowdy behavior.

5. There is no treatment, but individuals can learn to overcome their reading and writing difficulties and lead successful lives.

Growing up with a learning disability can make a child feel isolated or less intelligent than their peers, which can negatively impact their self-esteem and educational performance. Knowing what signs to look for and what resources are available as early as possible can help your child overcome the challenges associated with dyslexia.

One-on-one attention during class is ideal for students dealing with a learning disability, which they may be able to have if their class has a paraprofessional or assistant. Outside tutoring is beneficial as well, especially when students are unable to have the individual attention they need during school. Your child may also be eligible for other resources or accommodations, so be sure to speak with a special education specialist or school psychologist at your child's school for more information.


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