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Dyslexia Basics

Dyslexia is a learning disability in reading. People with dyslexia have trouble reading at a good pace and without mistakes. They may also have a hard time with reading comprehension, spelling, and writing. But these challenges aren’t a problem with intelligence.


Dyslexia is a common condition that makes it hard to read. Some experts believe that between 5 and 10 percent of people have it. Others say as many as 17 percent of people show signs of reading challenges. Read More

Dyslexia affects up to 1 in 5 people, but the experience of dyslexia isn't always the same. This difficulty in processing language exists along a spectrum -- one that doesn't necessarily fit with labels like "normal" and "defective." Kelli Sandman-Hurley urges us to think again about dyslexic brain function and to celebrate the neurodiversity of the human brain. 

The exact causes of dyslexia are still not completely clear, but anatomical and brain imagery studies show differences in the way the brain of a person with dyslexia develops and functions. Moreover, most people with dyslexia have been found to have problems with identifying the separate speech sounds within a word and/or learning how letters represent those sounds, a key factor in their reading difficulties. Dyslexia is not due to either lack of intelligence or desire to learn; with appropriate teaching methods, students with dyslexia can successfully learn.

Dyslexia occurs in people of all backgrounds and intellectual levels. People with dyslexia can be very bright. They are often capable or even gifted in areas such as art, computer science, design, drama, electronics, math, mechanics, music, physics, sales, and sports.

In addition, dyslexia runs in families; parents with dyslexia are likely to have children with dyslexia. For some people, their dyslexia is identified early in their lives, but for others, their dyslexia goes unidentified until they get older.  Read More


Signs of Dyslexia

Individuals with dyslexia have difficulties acquiring and using written language. Spelling can look quite jumbled at times because students have trouble remembering letter symbols for sounds and forming memories for words. Other problems experienced by people with dyslexia include the following:

  • Learning to speak

  • Learning letters and their sounds

  • Organizing written and spoken language

  • Memorizing number facts

  • Reading quickly enough to comprehend

  • Persisting with and comprehending longer reading assignments

  • Spelling

  • Learning a foreign language

  • Correctly doing math operations

Not all students who have difficulties with these skills have dyslexia. Formal testing of reading, language, and writing skills is the only way to confirm a diagnosis of suspected dyslexia.  Read More


  • Mispronounces words, like saying “beddy tear” instead of “teddy bear”

  • Struggles to name familiar objects and uses general words like thing and stuff instead 

  • Has a hard time learning nursery rhymes or song lyrics that rhyme

  • Has trouble remembering sequences, like singing the letters of the alphabet

  • Tells stories that are hard to follow; has trouble talking about an event in a logical order

  • Has difficulty remembering and following directions with multiple steps


Grades K–2

  • Has trouble learning letter names and remembering the sounds they make

  • Often confuses letters that look similar (b, d, p, q) and letters with similar sounds (d/t; b/p; f/v)

  • Struggles to read familiar words (like cat or the), especially if there aren’t pictures

  • Substitutes words when reading aloud, like saying house when the story says home

  • Has trouble hearing the individual sounds in words and blending sounds to make a word

  • Has trouble remembering how words are spelled and applying spelling rules in writing


Grades 3–5

  • Confuses or skips small words like for and of when reading aloud

  • Has trouble sounding out new words and quickly recognizing common ones

  • Struggles to explain what happened in a story or answer questions about key details

  • Frequently makes the same kinds of mistakes, like reversing letters

  • Has poor spelling; may spell the same word correctly and incorrectly in the same exercise

  • Avoids reading whenever possible or gets frustrated or upset when reading


Teens and Tweens

  • Reads slowly, leaving out small words and parts of longer words when reading aloud

  • Struggles to remember common abbreviations, including ones on social media

  • Often seems to be searching for words; may use substitutes like gate instead of fence

  • Often doesn't get the joke or has trouble understanding idioms and puns

  • Has an easier time answering questions about a page of text if it’s read aloud

  • Takes a very long time to complete reading assignments  Read More


Early Identification is Key

It’s a Myth That Young Children Cannot Be Screened for Dyslexia! 

Paradoxically, although a diagnosis of dyslexia usually is not given before the end of second grade or the beginning of third grade (after the requisite period of failing), intensive interventions are most effective in kindergarten or first grade (Wanzek & Vaughn, 2007). Not only has this added to the difficulty of remediation, this practice of delayed identification of dyslexia can have tremendous psychological and clinical implications. Children with dyslexia show an increased incidence of internalizing anxious and depressive symptomatology (Mugnaini, Lassi, La Malfa, & Albertini, 2007) and are less likely to complete high school (Jimerson, Egeland, Sroufe, & Carlson, 2000) or to enroll in programs of higher education (Dougherty, 2003).  Read More

From Reading Rockets on Youtube:


Co-Occuring Conditions 

There is a great deal of information regarding Co-Occuring Conditions and their relationship to dyslexia.  Recognizing characteristics of these different challenges oftentimes allow parents to better understand and help their student. Read More

People often think that kids who learn and think differently only struggle with one thing. For example, they might think kids with dyslexia only have trouble reading. Or kids with ADHD just have trouble paying attention.  But that’s not usually the case. Research shows, for instance, that kids who struggle with reading often struggle with math, too, and vice versa.  Dyslexia and dyscalculia are different, but they often co-occur.

Reading and math differences aren’t the only two that co-occur. Kids with ADHD often have other stuff going on, too.  Dyslexia and ADHD often co-occur. And many kids with ADHD have mental health issues, like depression or anxiety.  Challenges with executive function are at the core of ADHD. They can also be a factor in learning difference.  Read More


Gifted / 2e - Twice Exceptional

Some children are highly gifted in areas, but they also face learning or developmental challenges.

Children who are both gifted and challenged can be tough to understand. Gifted kids can use their strengths to compensate for the special need, and in the process mask their learning problems. Or the special needs can mask the giftedness. In some cases, neither the disability nor the giftedness is recognized.

Once 2e kids are identified, it can still be difficult to get the supports these children need in school. If they’re in a gifted program, they may be floundering in a certain area. If they’re placed in a special-ed program, it may not challenge them, and they may be frustrated and restless. In either case, anxietydepression, a lack of self-esteem and emotional dysregulation can result, leading to behavior problems.

Not having both talents and disability identified can have emotional and behavioral consequences for children.  They may come off as lazy because they’re clearly bright but performing poorly in some areas. They may get a lot of criticism, and can seem oppositional to teachers and parents. Children who are gifted may have behaviors that look like ADHD or autism.  Read More


Common Myths about Dyslexia

Myth: Reading and writing letters backwards is the main sign of dyslexia.

Fact: Some kids with dyslexia write letters backwards and some don’t. So, letter reversal isn’t necessarily a sign that your child has dyslexia. In fact, young children commonly reverse letters. It’s not unusual to see them confuse b and d or write p instead of q. If your child is still doing so by the end of first grade, however, it may signal the need for an evaluation.

Myth: Dyslexia doesn’t show up until elementary school.

Fact: Signs of dyslexia can show up in preschool, or even earlier. That’s because dyslexia can affect language skills that are essential skills for reading. Some signs that a preschooler may be at risk for dyslexia include difficulty rhyming and being a “late talker.”

Myth: Kids with dyslexia just need to try harder to read.

Fact: Research shows that the brain functions differently in kids with dyslexia. It also shows that reading can actually change the brain over time. But effort has nothing to do with it. It’s the type of instruction that makes a difference, not how hard kids try. With good instruction and practice, kids with dyslexia can make lasting gains in reading. There are a number of reading programs designed for struggling readers. Many use what’s called a multisensory approach. This type of instruction uses sight, sound and touch as pathways to learning.

Myth: Dyslexia goes away once kids learn to read.

Fact: Intervention makes a big difference in helping kids with dyslexia learn to read. But being able to read doesn’t mean they’re “cured.” Dyslexia is a lifelong learning difference that can affect more than just basic reading skills. On top of making it hard to decode, dyslexia can make it difficult to read fluently. It can impact how well kids comprehend what they’ve read. Kids with dyslexia may also continue to struggle with spelling and writing even once they’ve learned to read.

Myth: Dyslexia is caused by not reading enough at home.

Fact: Reading at home and being exposed to reading is important for all kids. But dyslexia doesn’t happen because of a lack of exposure. It’s a neurological condition. People who don’t know your family may wrongly assume you’re not doing enough reading with your child. You may need to explain that dyslexia is caused by differences in how the brain functions.  Read More


Successful People with Dyslexia


Magic Johnson, Nolan Ryan, Steve Redgrave, Bob May, Diamond Dallas Page, Greg Louganis, Jackie Stewart, Meryl Davis, Mohammad Ali

Business Leaders:

Henry Ford, John T. Chambers, Charles Schwab, Craig McCaw, Kevin O'Leary, Richard Branson, Ted Turner, Gary Cohn, Ingvar Kamprad, David Neeleman, William Hewlett

Architects, Engineers, Inventors, Designers:

Christopher Lowell, John Britten, James Lovelock, Ky Michaelson, Paul MacCready, Tommy Hilfiger, Thomas Edison


Law & Justice:

David Boies, Erin Brockovich, Jeffrey H. Gallet


Political and Military Leaders:

Andrew Jackson, Dan Malloy, Erna Solberg, Gavin Newsom, George Patton, George Washington, King Carl XVI Gustaf, Nelson Rockefeller, Paul Wellstone, Woodrow Wilson



Billy Bob Thornton, Danny Glover, Harry Anderson, Henry Winkler, Jay Leno, Jennifer Aniston, Jim Carrey, Keanu Reeves, Kiera Knightley, Loretta Young, Octavia Spencer, Oliver Reed, Orlando Bloom, Susan Hamphsire, Tom Smoothers, Vince Vaughn, Whoopi Goldberg

Music and Dance:

Aakash Odedra, Annie Crummer, Bob Weir, Brad Little, harry Belafonte, Nigel Kennedy, Cher, John Lennon

Science and Medicine:

Carol Greider, Fred Epstein, George M. Church, Harvey Cushing, Helen B. Taussig, Peter Lovatt, Albert Einstein, Ann Bancroft, Archer J.P. Martin, Jack Horner, John B. Goodenough, Matthew H. Schneps, Michael Faraday, Pierre Curie, Wallace Broecker


Ansel Adams, David Bailey, Nicole Betancourt, Robert Benton, Andy Warhol, Auguste Rodin, Bennett Strahan, Chuck Close, Ian Marley, Ignacio Gomez, Leonardo da Vinci, Mads Johan Øgaard, Pablo Picasso, Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Toth, Willard Wigan, Steven Spielberg, 


Agatha Christie, Elizabeth Daniels Squire, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Fannie Flagg, Gustave Flaubert, Jane Elson, John Corrigan, Natasha Solomons, Stephen Cannell, Terry Goodkind, Victor Villaseñor, Anja Dembina, Byron Pitts, Richard Engel, Scott Adams, Amber Lee Dodd, Hans Christian Andersen, Jeanne Betancourt, Patricia Polacco, Sally Gardner, Andrew Dornenburg, Bernie Taylor, Charley Boorman, Eileen Simpson, John Edmund Delezen, Larry Chambers, Nelson Lauver, Philip Schultz, William Butler Yeats  Read More

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