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Frequently Asked Questions

What is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a neurologically based, specific learning difference that interferes with the acquisition and processing of language. Varying in degrees of severity, dyslexia primarily affects a person’s ability to read text and often also affects writing, spelling, handwriting, and sometimes math. Individuals with dyslexia are bright and may have significant strengths in multiple areas.

Who does dyslexia affect?

According to the International Dyslexia Association, 15-20% of the population have symptoms of dyslexia. It exists in every part of the world, in every country and culture, wherever there is written language. Dyslexia affects individuals regardless of gender, race, native language, or socio-economic background. Dyslexia is genetic in origin and tends to run in families.

What causes dyslexia?

The precise causes of dyslexia have yet to be discovered but anatomical and brain imagery show slight differences in the way the brain of a dyslexic person develops and functions, specifically in regards to reading. Written language is a code of abstract symbols and individuals with dyslexia have varying degrees of difficulty deciphering that code. Because dyslexia is a genetic trait, many members of the same family may be dyslexic. It is important to note that dyslexia is never due to lack of intelligence, motivation, nor an inability to learn.

What are the signs of dyslexia?

There is a wide spectrum for dyslexia, from mild to severe, and its impact is different for each individual depending on the scope of their dyslexia and the effectiveness of instruction and remediation. Dyslexia can manifest itself in the following ways:

  • difficulty decoding words (reading)
  • difficulty encoding words (spelling)
  • lack of awareness of sounds in words
  • unusual speech patterns such as halted speech, mixing up sounds of words, mispronunciation, confusing words that sound alike, or difficulty rhyming
  • poor sequencing of letters in words when reading or writing (this can also occur with numbers)
  • problems with reading comprehension
  • difficulty expressing thoughts in written form
  • difficulty with handwriting
  • difficulty in mathematics, particularly sequencing of steps, symbol confusion, and rote memorization of facts
  • confusion about directions in space or time (right and left, months, days)
  • poor organizational skills

Can dyslexia be treated?

While there is no “cure” for dyslexia, specific teaching techniques and remediation have been proven to greatly reduce the difficulties associated with dyslexia. Early intervention and specific structured learning strategies such as multisensory instruction, individualized attention, and academic language therapy are key to rapid remediation. With appropriate teaching methods, dyslexics can excel academically and become skillful, life-long readers.

Dyslexia’s challenges are outweighed by tremendous advantages, specifically in intelligence and creativity.

“Dyslexia is an island of weakness … surrounded by a sea of strengths.” —Sally Shaywitz, M.D., The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity

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