Common Myths and Misconceptions

How many people have dyslexia?

We do not really know how many people have dyslexia. Since there has not been a generally accepted definition until recently, estimates have varied widely. Based on the world research figures that are available, it would not be far off the mark to say that 15% - 20% of our country’s population may be dyslexic. In any school where there are say 1000 students, almost 150-200 students will display symptoms of dyslexia and many more will unknowingly display symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). The list does not end here and the co morbidity issues with other learning difficulties would be making the day-to-day schooling activities of students an arduous and difficult task.

What causes dyslexia?

While we have defined dyslexia, we may add that dyslexia is a consequence of the way a person's brain is organized. Learning to read requires making the association between printed symbols and spoken words and spoken sounds. These associations must become firmly fixed in memory for reading to be fluent. People with dyslexia have great difficulty establishing these associations. The exact cause of the difference in the brain is not known, but recent research and new technology make it possible to identify some of the differences in the brains of people with dyslexia. Also, interviews suggest that dyslexia appears in families across generations. Currently, the search for the possible genetic basis of dyslexia is underway in various locations around the world.

Do people with dyslexia see words backwards?

There is some evidence that visual dyslexia affects some people. These people have great difficulty establishing left-to-right order for many confusable letters (b/d) and words (was/saw). Very few may actually be able to read books in the upside-down orientation more efficiently than in the typical orientation. However, most people with visual dyslexia have difficulty coming up with the pronunciation of words wherein clusters of letters are used to spell one sound -- words such as sight, road, slide -- or words containing pairings of letters that might spell different sounds in different words -- words such as limb/climb, eight/ate, through/though/tough, believe/receive. Recently, people with such difficulties have been described as orthographic dyslexics.

Can a child overcome dyslexia?

Yes. Most children with dyslexia can learn to read and succeed in school and work.

Results are best when children are identified early and given appropriate educational instruction. Without early intervention, dyslexia can create a gap between learning aptitude and achievement in school.

How do I know if my child has dyslexia?

If your child has had difficulty learning to read words and spell, she might have dyslexia. Young children with dyslexia typically have difficulty learning the alphabet, rhyming, and dividing words into their sounds. Many parents of students with dyslexia describe their children as bright and eager learners until they encounter instruction in reading. At such time, they often become frustrated and despondent. Sometimes these children are able to memorize enough words to appear as if they are reading. When the number of words they must memorize becomes overwhelming (about third grade), the difficulty with reading becomes apparent. Simply stated, if your child has unusual difficulty pronouncing the words when he/she reads and spelling the words he/she writes (compared to others of the same age), you should consider an assessment for dyslexia.

Can a person be dyslexic and have an attention deficit disorder (ADD)?

Yes. Recent research indicates that about 30% of individuals with dyslexia also have an attention deficit disorder (ADD). Can dyslexia be cured?

No. Dyslexia is a lifelong condition. However, with appropriate remediation, individuals with dyslexia can learn to read and write. With good instruction, dyslexia becomes much less debilitating. Many students with dyslexia now attend college and become successful in positions which require considerable reading and writing. Without this instruction, many people with dyslexia will suffer from frustration, decreased self-esteem, and difficulty maintaining employment commensurate with their ability. Recent research indicates that more than half of people incarcerated suffer from undiagnosed or inadequately addressed dyslexia and other learning disabilities

What is the best treatment for dyslexia?

The best treatment involves educational instruction in the language skills that people with dyslexia find difficult. Two of the most important skills to be taught are phonemic awareness and phonics. There are several good programs to teach these skills that are designed specifically for people with dyslexia. The books and websites we list have great information about these programs. Typically, people with dyslexia learn best when working with a dyslexia specialist and using one or more of these special reading programs.

When is dyslexia typically identified in children?

Most dyslexia is not identified until the child reaches class III or later. By then, a child with reading problems has only a one-in-seven chance of catching up with his or her peers in reading.

How is dyslexia identified?

There are many proven tools and techniques to identify children who are at risk for dyslexia. Some of the signs of dyslexia include ( See signs and Symptoms for a detailed list)
Difficulty with rhyming
Difficulty with separating and blending sounds in words
Difficulty with learning the connections between sounds and letters
Difficulty remembering words they have seen many times
Persistent reversals of letters and words
Slow, labored reading
Poor spelling

Is dyslexia linked with below-average IQ?

No. Dyslexia is not the result of low intelligence. Children with dyslexia are intelligent and often show significant gifts in the areas controlled by the right side of the brain. They tend to excel in artistic, athletic and mechanical endeavors, architecture, science, music and creative problem solving. Generally, dyslexia describes a bright mind that learns differently.

Is dyslexia a vision issue?

No, dyslexia is not a result of a vision problem. Vision therapy, eye-tracking exercises, and/or colored lenses will not help.

Is dyslexia a motivation problem?

No. Children with dyslexia work hard at learning to read.

Are certain ethnic groups more at risk for dyslexia?

No. Dyslexia occurs in all ethnicities and across all socioeconomic groups.

Does dyslexia occur more frequently in boys than girls?

No. It occurs with equal frequency among boys and girls. Boys may be identified more often or sooner, because dyslexia often occurs along with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which does occur more often in boys.

Are Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) learning disabilities?

No, they are behavioural disorders.
An individual can have more than one learning or behavioural disability. In various studies as many as 50% of those diagnosed with a learning or reading difference have also been diagnosed with ADHD.
Although disabilities may co-occur, one is not the cause of the other.

Why doesn’t my child’s school test for dyslexia?

An assessment for dyslexia requires:
Expensive assessment tools
Approximately 5 hours per person, out of which 2-3 hours are concentrated testing with the child.
Specific knowledge, and expertise in this area.

What if we take no action at all?

Nobody can predict the future. It has been however studies that many students progress at only half a class grade per year. The difference could be a student on grade level versus a student 3 years behind 4 years from now. Why even think on these lines when help is available and identification can pinpoint the issue and actually lift a burden off your shoulders.