Dyslexia: Fact or Fiction

Dyslexia is a diagnosis that affects about 15-20% of our population.  There are many misconceptions about what dyslexia is and how it affects children in school.  According to the International Dyslexia Association, dyslexia is defined as “a specific learning disability that 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.”  The skills that people with dyslexia have difficulty with include phonological awareness, word identification, decoding, spelling, and working memory.  These skills affect the child’s ability to read, spell, and they even affect their reading comprehension in school. 

It is important to understands the facts about dyslexia so that we are able to properly identify it and treat it. 

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Fiction: “Children with dyslexia have low IQs”

Fact: The International Dyslexia Association indicates that many children with dyslexia have above average or gifted IQs.  The difficulty they face, is that their reading level does not commensurate with their academic level; therefore, causing issues with coursework that relies heavily on reading and reading comprehension.

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Fiction: “Students with dyslexia just need to practice reading more”

Fact: Children with dyslexia have a learning difference.  Their brains often have difficulty with holding information and processing it efficiently when it comes to reading academic tasks.  This is why is it vital for these students to have information presented in a different way for their brain to process it accurately.  The most effective way to teach kids with dyslexia is to read and spell using a multisensory structured language education (MSLE) approach. Orton Gillingham, Wilson Reading System, The Lindamood Bell Program, and The Barton Reading and Spelling System are a few evidenced-based dyslexia programs that professionals utilize.

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Fiction: “Vision and eye tracking therapy is a cure for dyslexia”

Fact: Children with dyslexia may have visual motor integration tracking problems; however, dyslexia is not a condition that can be cured with just vision therapy. This therapy may be beneficial for those with dyslexia, in addition to specific reading and language intervention therapies to help remediate the deficits in their phonological language.

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Fiction: “Your child will grow out of it” or “Your child will catch up”

Fact: Dyslexia is a medical condition that cannot be outgrown.  Therapy and reading intervention are essential to help teach your child the necessary skills to help remediate their difficulties with reading, writing and spelling. 

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Fiction: “Speech therapists are not responsible for treating students with dyslexia”

Fact: The American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) Scope of Practice states that speech-language pathologists have the knowledge and competency to diagnose and treat phonological difficulties and literacy problems.  While speech language pathologists are unable to diagnose dyslexia, they are able to diagnose the specific language difficulties and provide treatment.  Some of the therapists at LLA are even trained in specific reading programs such as Orton Gillingham. 

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It is important to note that early intervention is key to giving a child all the tools to be successful readers.  Each child’s plan of care will be different based on their individual needs, but with this intervention many children have been able to overcome these difficulties and go on to be extremely successful academically and beyond!

-Katie Pankiw, Speech Therapist