• Pamela Douglas

10 MYTHS OF DYSLEXIA DEBUNKED


1. Dyslexia does not exist: FALSE

The National Institute of Health (NIH) began researching dyslexia in the 1980's, because if a child's difficulty with reading could not be explained by low intelligence, poor eyesight, poor hearing, inadequate educational opportunities, or any other problem, then the child was labeled dyslexic. But, that definition was not satisfactory to parents, teachers, or researchers.

So In 1996 after detailed research was done by the NIH they reported this definition of dyslexia:


"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 growth of vocabulary and background knowledge."


2. Dyslexics see letters and words backwards: FALSE

Individuals with dyslexia do see things differently, but they do not see things backward.

Dyslexia is not a deficit in the visual processing system but a language-processing problem.

The hallmark characteristic of dyslexia is a breakdown in what is called phoneme awareness.


The International Dyslexia Association continually researches about the causes and treatment of dyslexia in association with reading. Certain areas of the brain are associated with reading.


Dyslexia is a phonological core deficit and reading fluency deficit. Working memory, rapid memory and fluency are also at the root and because of these factors, reading difficulty is at the core of a universal struggle.


The way the brain functions in anatomy, chemistry, and interventions has been researched recurrently in association with dyslexia.


Brain imaging has been used to visualize the anatomy and the physiology of brain processing to reveal the dyslexic brain’s difficulty with phonemes and graphemes of language.


This cognitive process takes several steps through the brain, and is not from a single location. If one area in the brain does not function properly, it does not connect with the other areas to make language processing smooth. This dysfunction in brain anatomy causes the difficulty in reading and is not a consequence of vision or instruction, it is a processing disorder (The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) & Guinevere ,Ph.D, 2020).


3. Reversals are the only sign: FALSE


Reversals are only a small symptom and in mild dyslexia you may not see it often

Common symptoms:

  • Left/right confusion

  • Late to establish a dominant hand - often ambidextrous

  • Difficulty telling time

  • Directionally challenged

  • Can’t say or write the sequence of the alphabet without stopping and going back to the beginning when they get stuck on a letter

  • Times tables extremely hard to memorize.

  • Dates & phone numbers & peoples names hard to remember

READING:

  • Losing place in the text

  • Skipping over simple sight words or difficult words

  • Won’t try to sound out words – even after years of a good phonic program

  • Can read a word on one page and won’t recognize it on the next page

  • Will replace words with similar words – “pup” with “dog”

4. It’s rare: FALSE

According to the latest dyslexia research from the NIH, dyslexia affects 20 percent, or 1 out of every 5 children. According to NIH research, of those who are placed in special education for a learning disability, around 80% of those have dyslexia. Dyslexia is by far the most common learning disability.


5. Your child will outgrow it: FALSE

It is lifelong because it is a neurological brain issue that is formed that way.


6. Dyslexics have low intelligence: FALSE

This could be one of the most damaging misconceptions about dyslexia.



Often, because of their struggles with reading, writing, and spelling, these individuals begin to feel like they are stupid. Unfortunately, many misinformed educators and parents reinforce this idea and create an assault on the person’s self esteem.


Dyslexia is not related to low intelligence. Dyslexia is a unique mindset that is often gifted and productive but learns differently than other minds.


In fact, some of the most brilliant minds of our time have been known to have dyslexia: Albert Einstein, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Winston Churchill,


7. Dyslexics can’t read: FALSE

Depending on the severity, most can read, and many can read quite well.


8. Only affects boys: FALSE

NIH research states Dyslexia affects equally as many boys as girls.


9. They are just lazy: FALSE

Dyslexic people show an abnormal pattern of brain function when reading, under activity in some regions, overactivity in another. T


he difficulty they have in obtaining meaning from the printed word, researchers say provide evidence that people with dyslexia are not poorly taught, lazy, or stupid but have an inborn brain abnormality that has nothing to do with intelligence, say the scientists from the Yale School of Medicine (2017).


The process is not as efficient and often takes them longer, with much more effort required than for those who use the automatic language centers in their brains. This extra time needed for processing does not mean they are slow or lazy.


This process for them is exhausting and until they are taught in the way their brains need to learn to make these connections to the automatic language center, it will always be a laborious process for them.


When I started tutoring dyslexic students, I noticed that all my students started yawning excessively about half way through the hour. Their brain was literally exhausted, just as if they were physically exercising, they are working tout heir brain. They were tired. I call it clever conditioning for the brain.


10.They will never improve: FALSE

Dyslexia is a not a disease and cannot be cured by a trip to the doctor or a magic pill. It is a way of thinking, the way the brain is wired, and how it processes information.


Research at Yale University by Dr. Sally Shaywitz, using MRI technology, have proven without a doubt that those with dyslexia use different parts of their brains more than non-dyslexics.


This research has also shown that the brain can actually be rewired in the language deficit area if the individual is taught with systematic, explicit, sequential phonics taught in a multi-sensory way.


This structured literacy approach is the foundation of Delightfully Dyslexic!


Resources

1. Shaywitz, S. E., & Shaywitz, B. A. (2008). Paying attention to reading: the neurobiology of reading and dyslexia. Retrieved May 21, 2020, from https://lexia.yale.edu/research-science/ycdc-research/paying-attention-to-reading-the-neurobiology-of-reading-and-dyslexia/

2. The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) , & Guinevere ,Ph.D, F. E. (2020). Dyslexia and the Brain. Retrieved May 21, 2020, from https://dyslexiaida.org/dyslexia-and-the-brain/

3. The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity - Yale School of Medicine. (2017). Yale Dyslexia. http://dyslexia.yale.edu

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