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About Dyslexia

(adopted by the International Dyslexia Association, November 12, 2002)

Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede the growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.



What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability affecting 5 – 17 percent of children in the United States, with estimates varying by local definitions and rates of identification. Dyslexia refers to a cluster of symptoms, which result in people having difficulties with specific language skills, particularly reading. Students with dyslexia usually experience difficulties with other language skills such as spelling, writing, and pronouncing words. They may also experience difficulties in specific areas of math learning. Dyslexia affects individuals throughout their lives; however, its impact can change at different stages in a person’s life. It is referred to as a learning disability because dyslexia can make it very difficult for a student to succeed academically in the typical instructional environment without specially designed instruction, accommodations, or support services at all levels of education. Adults with dyslexia can be highly successful in life though they may also need to utilize supports and accommodations in certain areas of their life.


Characteristics of Dyslexia:

Commonly Associated Problems:

• Difficulty memorizing math facts and retaining math concepts
• Difficulty understanding math word problems
• Difficulty with handwriting
• Difficulties in working memory
• Difficulty copying from the board

What is Not Associated with Dyslexia:

• Intelligence – dyslexia can affect individuals at all levels of intelligence
• Age – dyslexia is a lifelong condition, though many individuals can learn to read and write well with the proper supports and training

What We Know About Interventions and Treatments for Dyslexia:

• The earlier the intervention is begun, the better the results are likely to be
• Intervention needs to be based on direct assessment of deficits in reading and language skills, both oral and written, with assessment of other areas of functioning taken into account and remediated as needed
• Intervention needs to target specific deficits using intensive, systematic, and well-structured research-based intervention programs such as the multisensory Orton-Gillingham based reading programs
• Progress monitoring is essential to make sure students are making sufficient progress – if the progress is not sufficient, the program and/or the intensity with which it is being delivered needs to be adjusted
• Direct instruction provided individually or in a small group setting of up to 4 to 6 students has been found to be an effective delivery model
• Intervention plans need to include other areas of functioning that are impacted by the student’s dyslexia and should include accommodations around test-taking and in other subject areas – for example, a student may need extra time, class outlines or notes provided, the use of assistive technology in class, a test reader, etc.
• It is not too late for adults with dyslexia to improve their reading skills

What Parents Can Do:

• Learn about dyslexia
• Listen to your child and try to understand their struggles
• Become an advocate for your child
• Be involved with your child’s education and make direct contact with their teachers
• Provide exposure to reading materials at home (reading aloud to students, providing books on tape, encourage story-telling and story-retelling)
• Facilitate the development of interests and skills that your child has and encourage the pursuit of those interests