Only 5% of American children learn to read without effort. Another 20% to 30% learn to read with relative ease once exposed to formal instruction. That leaves 60% for whom learning to read is a major challenge. For twenty to thirty percent of those children, reading is one of the most difficult tasks they will have to master throughout their education.
- What is dyslexia?
- What are other related language-based learning differences?
- What are the causes?
- What are the signs?
- How is dyslexia treated?
- What are the "side effects" of dyslexia?
- What are the unique strengths of someone with dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a type of language-based learning difference. It refers to a cluster of symptoms that result in difficulties with reading. Some definitions more broadly include difficulties with oral and/or written language skills. Dyslexia affects individuals throughout their lives. However, with proper diagnosis, appropriate instruction, hard work, and support, individuals with dyslexia can be very successful in school and in the workplace.
Dyslexia is categorized by difficulties learning to read. Other language-based learning differences can be categorized as difficulties with writing (dysgraphia), difficulties with math (dyscalculia), auditory and language processing disorders, or a specific learning disability affecting reading, writing, or communication. It is estimated that 15-20% of the population has a language-based learning difference.
Dyslexia is believed to be neurobiological and genetic in origin; we are still learning about its exact causes. Chances are that at least one of a dyslexic individual’s parents, grandparents, aunts, or uncles has dyslexia. Dyslexia is not a disease and has nothing to do with intelligence or desire to learn.
Signs of dyslexia vary depending on age. Students with dyslexia can struggle with language acquisition, oral language, incorrect word usage, spelling, grammar, or reading comprehension. The impact of dyslexia varies from person to person and depends on the severity of the condition and the effectiveness of educational instruction.
In addition to some unique strengths (see below), dyslexia can affect a person’s self-image and self-esteem.
Academic stress causes some students with dyslexia to feel less intelligent and less capable than they actually are. When given appropriate instruction and the opportunity to succeed, students can maintain or rebuild a positive self-image.