What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is sort of an invisible problem.  You may not know why your student or child is struggling with reading or dislikes school.  Many kids worry that there is something wrong with them.  That is a scary thought.  But, thanks to a lot of recent research, we now have a lot of scientific proof that a dyslexic person’s brain is normal and healthy.

No one is born knowing how to read; we all have to learn how and there are many things happening in the brain during this process.  When you have dyslexia, your brain takes longer to make some of the connections, and does it in many steps.  It at times has trouble matching letters you see on the page with the sounds those letters and combinations of letters make.  And when you have trouble with that step, it makes all the other steps harder.


One thing we know for sure is that even though this may be a weakness for some students, this usually means the person also has a great number of other strengths.  Having trouble reading doesn’t mean you have trouble with everything.  Most dyslexics are very good at a lot of other things.  People with dyslexia are often creative, and typically develop clever skills to help them figure out words that give them trouble at first. Dyslexics can often find unexpected ways to solve problems or tackle a problem.  We don’t totally understand where this creativity comes from.  We do know that many dyslexics learn strategies to help them and have been able to move and be successful in college and beyond.

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 in the 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 growth of vocabulary and background knowledge. (International Association November 2002).

  • Studies show that individuals with dyslexia process information in a different area of the brain than do non-dyslexics.

  • Many people who are dyslexic are average or of above average intelligence.

  • The causes for dyslexia are neurobiological and genetic.  Individuals inherit the genetic links for dyslexia.  Chances are that one of the child’s parents, grandparents, aunts, or uncles is dyslexic.