Monday, March 23, 2020


It's said that 15-20% of the population has dyslexia. That equates to roughly four students out of a class of 20. Of those who have dyslexia, 20% drop out of high school. Only 10% of those with it are often referred to as "highly successful," while the remaining 90% often go unseen.

Common myths and misperceptions about dyslexia, in no particular order:
  • Reversing letters is the symptom by which dyslexia is diagnosed
  • If a student can read, s/he doesn't have dyslexia
  • It's the result of a deficiency in IQ
  • Students who don't write or read well are lazy and/or simply not motivated to want to learn
  • Phonics instruction is the key to helping children with dyslexia
  • Dyslexia doesn't really exist - it's just an excuse
  • Affects only, or mainly, boys. The truth: About equal between boys and girls. As with ADHD, more boys tend to get referred for dyslexia screening because they tend to act out more in class. Girls are usually quieter, so they're, sadly, flying under the radar.
  • It will be outgrown
  • Cannot be diagnosed until the age of eight

Potential signs a student has dyslexia:
  • Often spells poorly
  • Often reads larger words without difficulty, but makes errors with words like the, from, was, and
  • Very bright, but doesn't do well in school
  • Has a feeling of being "dumb," or has low self-esteem
  • Gets easily frustrated and/or emotional about activities like reading, school, or taking tests
  • Not wanting to read aloud
  • Writes or reads with omissions, additions, repetitions, and substitutions
  • Good at math laid out in straight arithmetic format, but not with math word problems
  • Overall challenges with reading fluency, word recognition, writing, spelling, and potentially spoken language
  • Often misreads word endings, or leaves them off when writing 

Indicators very inconsistent

The indicators that a student has dyslexia are very inconsistent. What one student shows for symptoms, another student will not. And those who have dyslexia can have different days or even different moments - one day or moment is great, while the next one is a complete struggle. It's this inconsistency and lack of predictability that leads to, unfortunately, the misperception held by teachers and others that a student is merely lazy or unmotivated.

Students with dyslexia are visual thinkers, possess strong imaginations

While we know that indicators are very inconsistent for those that have dyslexia, we also know that dyslexics are strong visual thinkers/learners. They tend to be what is referred to as visual-spatial, or, in other words, non-verbal, in their learning styles. As such, they can have rather strong, creative imaginations. School systems are traditionally excellent when it comes to accommodating verbal learners, but not so much visual-spatial learners.

As visual-spatial, or, non-verbal, learners, the thinking process for those with dyslexia is much faster than for those thinking with words. This explains the apparent struggling with, or stumbling over, words, and being out of sequence. Furthermore, it helps explain why those with dyslexia struggle with simple words like the, from, was, and - there's no point of visual reference with these words. Nothing comes to mind when trying to picture these words. 

Three main solutions/strategies to dealing with dyslexia in the school setting through special education services:

Remediation - reteaching in a different way, in a different setting, or at a different time

Accommodation - changes made to the environment, or to teaching and learning variables

Modification - changes made to curriculum

Further Reading and Additional Resources

What Is Dyslexia? -

Orton-Gillingham Approach (a.k.a. "structured literacy) to reading instruction

Davis Theory - Davis Dyslexia Association International

International Dyslexia Association

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