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Dyslexia- What it Is and What it’s Not

By: Learning Consultant Heather Blome

November 17, 2021

Learning to read comes easily to most kids, especially those who are exposed to language-rich and literacy-filled environments throughout the infant, toddler and preschool stages of life. When children begin to apply early literacy skills learned in those first years upon entering school, such as singing the alphabet song, identifying letter symbols, hearing and saying letter sounds, and rhyming, the skills come together quite nicely. However, for some 20 percent of children who struggle to learn to read due to Dyslexia, which is a reading disorder with deficits in phonological processing, learning to read can be difficult, laborious, and cause feelings of insecurity. There is a great deal of research about what dyslexia is, but there is also a lot of false information about it too. Here are some key features of dyslexia and what it is not. 

According to Susan Barton, the founder of Bright Solutions for Dyslexia, here are some key components of dyslexia: 


- Runs in families

- Is a problem with language

- Affects reading, spelling, and writing 

- Is an inability to decode words, despite adequate exposure to phonics 

- Causes trouble with recognizing common sight words in text

- Symptoms include problems with pre-reading concepts such as rhyming, matching sounds, blending words, and isolating phonemes

- Occurs in varying degrees of severity: mild, moderate, severe

- Affects children who are able to easily learn and grasp concepts in other areas, such as math or science

- Affects math reasoning and solving word problems

- Can cause emotional stress to children who internalize and perceive it as being their fault or feel like they aren’t smart 

- Can be comorbid with ADHD and other learning disorders

Dyslexia is NOT...

- A vision problem

- Just a child reversing letters or numbers in their writing 

- A problem with intellectual ability 

- Due to laziness

How to help...

- Talk to your child’s teacher(s)

- Ask about the child’s pattern or educational strengths and weaknesses, paying particular attention to reading, writing, and spelling

- Talk to an expert

- Reading specialist, learning consultant, speech and language pathologist, or an educational evaluator

- Ask about additional testing 

- Seek out additional resources who offer different types of support, such as professionals who have been trained in systematic reading instruction (SPIRE, Barton, Orton-Gillingham, etc.)

- Talk to your child, and provide reassurance that there is hope and it’s not their fault


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