Knowing the answer to “What is dyslexia?” is important, because It is estimated that up to 10 percent of the population experiences some degree of dyslexia.
Despite being such a common condition, There are still a lot of myths, misunderstandings and misconceptions about dyslexia. In this post, we’ll explore the facts about dyslexia, how it can be managed, and how it can be treated.
What is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a learning disorder that involves reading difficulties – specifically, problems in identifying speech sounds, and learning how these sounds relate to letters and words.
It is a neurological condition that affects the way the brain processes language. It is not a result of poor education, low intelligence, or lack of motivation. Dyslexia can affect people of all ages and backgrounds. Common symptoms include difficulty with reading, writing, and spelling, as well as problems with memory and organisational ability. However, with the right support and interventions, people with dyslexia can learn to manage their symptoms and achieve their full potential.
Myths about dyslexia
There are many myths and misconceptions about dyslexia that can make it difficult for people with the condition to get the support they need. Myths and misconceptions rarely help anyone. Myths and misconceptions about dyslexia make it difficult for dyslexic persons to get the support and help they need. But how can these myths be damaging?
Someone with dyslexia may be told that they are lazy, or not putting in enough effort, but in fact they have a neurological condition that affects the way their brain processes language. It’s nothing to do with laziness.
Let’s bust some more myths about dyslexia.
Myth #1: Dyslexia is a visual problem that can be fixed with eye exercises or special glasses
One of the most common myths about dyslexia is that it is a visual problem that can be fixed with eye exercises. However, this is far from the truth. Dyslexia is not a problem with vision, or eye muscles. It’s a neurological condition that affects language processing in the brain.
While some individuals with dyslexia may also experience visual problems, such as tracking issues or sensitivity to light, these are not the root cause of their reading difficulties. This means that special eye exercises, or specially tinted glasses, will not address the underlying problem that causes dyslexia.
Myth #2: Dyslexia only affects reading and writing
Dyslexia definitely affects an individual’s ability to read, write, and spell. However, it’s not true that it only affects someone’s reading and writing. Dyslexia can also affect other areas of learning such as maths, time management, organisation skills, and memory.
For instance, individuals with dyslexia may find it challenging to understand maths concepts or perform calculations quickly due to difficulties in processing numerical information.
For example, if you have dyslexia, you might find it hard to grasp maths concepts, because it involves reading about these concepts. You might struggle with specific things like fractions, decimals, long division and multiplication, or multiplication tables.
People with dyslexia might also struggle with time management skills, so they find it difficult to complete a task within a certain time frame. The reason is that people with dyslexia often struggle with executive functioning, which is critical to organising thoughts and ideas.
Myth #3: Dyslexia is a sign of low intelligence
People sometimes assume that someone with a reading difficulty such a dyslexia also has low intelligence. This isn’t true. In reality, dyslexia has nothing to do with intelligence and it does not affect a person’s overall cognitive abilities.
In fact, many individuals with dyslexia are highly intelligent and perform well in areas such as creativity, problem-solving skills, and visual-spatial abilities. Dyslexic individuals may struggle with reading and writing due to difficulties in processing language-based information or recognising letters and words correctly. However, these challenges do not determine their intellectual capacity.
Sadly, the myth that dyslexia is linked to low intelligence can stigmatise the condition and prevent people from receiving proper support or correct treatment. This is particularly damaging for children, because if children feel that they have low intelligence, there may be less likely to try hard to improve their reading skills. They may simply feel that they can’t be helped.
#4: Dyslexia can be cured with medication
Contrary to popular belief, dyslexia cannot be cured with medication.
However, some medications may be prescribed to address conditions such as anxiety or ADHD, which can often occur alongside dyslexia. For example, stimulant medications such as Ritalin or Adderall may be prescribed to help individuals with ADHD focus and concentrate, which can improve their reading and writing abilities.
Signs and symptoms of dyslexia
Dyslexia can manifest in different ways and can vary in severity.
Some common signs and symptoms of dyslexia include:
- difficulty with phonemic awareness (the ability to identify and manipulate individual sounds in words)
- difficulty with decoding (sounding out words)
- slow or inaccurate reading
- difficulty with spelling
- difficulty with writing
It is important to note that not all individuals with dyslexia will exhibit all of these symptoms, and some may exhibit additional symptoms not listed here. In fact, the symptoms of dyselxia can vary by age – for more information, see our blog post Symptoms of dyslexia by age.
If you suspect that you or someone you know may have dyslexia, it is important to seek a professional evaluation for an accurate diagnosis.
Treatment and support for dyslexia
While there is no cure for dyslexia, there are many interventions and accommodations that can help individuals with dyslexia succeed in school and in life. These may include specialised reading instruction, assistive technology, accommodations in the classroom (such as extra time on tests), and support from a team of professionals including teachers, tutors, and therapists.
Educational technology is also an effective way of treating dyslexia and improving reading skills. To learn to read, and learn to read better, we need strong memory, attention, processing and sequencing skills. With this in mind, Sonic Learning has specifically designed the 3 Step Reading Program to help persons with dyslexia.
Using a suite of online learning programs you or your child can use at home, the 3 Step Reading Program builds the underlying skills supporting reading and writing development. Find out more about the 3 Step Reading Program here.
- Step 1: Build reading foundations with Fast ForWord Foundations/Elements. This series of programs build the foundations of reading – memory, attention, processing and sequencing.
- Step 2: Build reading proficiency with Fast ForWord Reading. In this series, explore word meanings, build sentences and paragraphs, work on punctuation and much more.
- Step 3: Build reading automaticity with Reading Assistant. You or your child will build reading fluency with guided reading using real books. It’s a safe space to help you or your child read out loud, using state-of-the-art voice recognition software coupled with an AI-driven reading tutor who will correct you and provide feedback.
We’re a small group of Australian health and education professionals working to bring you the very best research-backed learning programs available. Contact us for a free consultation.
- Mayo Clinic website, Dyslexia
- Siegel LS. Perspectives on dyslexia. Paediatr Child Health. 2006 Nov;11(9):581-7. doi: 10.1093/pch/11.9.581. PMID: 19030329; PMCID: PMC2528651.
- American Academy of Pediatrics, Section on Ophthalmology, Council on Children with Disabilities; American Academy of Ophthalmology; American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus; American Association of Certified Orthoptists. Joint statement–Learning disabilities, dyslexia, and vision. Pediatrics. 2009 Aug;124(2):837-44. doi: 10.1542/peds.2009-1445. Epub 2009 Jul 27. PMID: 19651597.
- Brosnan M, Demetre J, Hamill S, Robson K, Shepherd H, Cody G. Executive functioning in adults and children with developmental dyslexia. Neuropsychologia. 2002;40(12):2144-55. doi: 10.1016/s0028-3932(02)00046-5. PMID: 12208010.
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