Over the years, we’ve helped hundreds of families better understand their divergent learners, and the above question is something we often hear in our practice. So as Dyslexia Awareness Month begins, we wanted to take a few moments to shed some light on this complex, yet common learning difference.
What is Dyslexia?
First let’s tackle some misconceptions. Many people believe that having dyslexia means a person reverses letters, like ‘b’ and ‘d’, or reads words backwards. In reality, dyslexia is a language processing disorder. According to the Yale Center of Dyslexia and Creativity, “People with dyslexia have trouble matching the letters they see on a page with the sounds those letters and combinations of letters make.” This slows down the reading process and makes all subsequent tasks more difficult.
Dyslexia does not correlate to a lack of intelligence either. On the contrary, children with dyslexia are often bright and curious.
Dyslexia is more common than most people think. One out of every five people has dyslexia and it accounts for 80% of all those identified with a learning disability. Complex and nuanced, it’s also important to note that dyslexia occurs on a continuum (mild to severe) and that individuals with dyslexia can present in a variety of ways.
Signs and Symptoms
Dyslexia may look different at different ages. Below is a list of common symptoms:
- Delayed speech development
- History of chronic ear infections
- Difficulty reciting nursery rhymes or rhyming words
- Problems remembering the alphabet, names and numbers
- Trouble learning new words
- Family history of dyslexia or other learning difficulties
- Discrepancies between abilities outside of learning environment and performance in classes. For example, a child may show a deep understanding of concepts, but is unable to learn common sight words.
- Reading fluency and comprehension below grade level
- Difficulty sounding out words
- Takes a long time to complete reading or writing assignments
- Gets frustrated while reading and may avoid it all together
- Struggles with reading aloud
- Missing or skipping lines while reading – needs to reread passages
- Trouble telling time or learning left from right
- Difficulty with handwriting, especially cursive
- Hard to follow multistep directions
- Often appears like they are daydreaming or zoning out in the classroom
- Suffers from low self esteem and may be easily frustrated by reading tasks
TEENS AND ADULTS
- Difficulty doing word problems in math
- Problems with word finding skills, has trouble finding the right words
- Shies away from tasks that involve reading
- Has a hard time telling sequential stories or describing a book plot
- Difficulty learning new languages
Dyslexia has Its Advantages
It would be incorrect to assume that dyslexia is simply a sum of the symptoms listed above. Along with their challenges, people with dyslexia possess many amazing gifts. They are often intelligent, intuitive, and divergent thinkers, whose ability to connect the dots makes them gifted problem solvers. While they may read slowly, their minds are often very quick and creative.
In fact, many of the world’s most successful and famous figures have dyslexia. Did you know Richard Branson, Steven Spielberg and Charles Schwab are all dyslexic? So are Orlando Bloom, Mark Ruffalo and Jennifer Anniston. What’s even more interesting is the fact that, instead of being hindered by dyslexia, these people all point to their dyslexia and their struggles as being instrumental in their successes.
Early Intervention Points to Success
When undiagnosed, dyslexia can lead to a lifetime of struggles. In fact, it is estimated that 35% of dyslexics drop out of high school. That’s double the national average. Dyslexic individuals are also overrepresented when it comes to homelessness and drug and alcohol abuse.
While these figures are discouraging, there are others that offer much hope. According to NoticeAbility founder, Dean Bragonier, dyslexics also make up 35% of all entrepreneurs and 40% of all self-made millionaires. In his TEDx presentation, he even goes on to explain that one out of every two rocket scientists are dyslexic.
Dyslexia Screenings Can Help
That’s why early diagnosis is so important and why PEAK is committed to helping dyslexic learners and their families. In addition to our comprehensive assessments, we will now be offering special Dyslexia Screenings, beginning in the month of October. Screenings offer a quick, affordable way to determine your child’s risk for dyslexia and can give you a plan for how to move forward.
PEAK Exceptional Services provides comprehensive psychoeducational and neuropsychological assessments for kids, teens, and adults with learning differences, as well as parent coaching for parents of differently wired children. If you’d like more information on our Dyslexia Screening or how we can help you better understand your divergent learner, call us at 720-377-3250 or email firstname.lastname@example.org