Understanding Dyslexia: Myths and Truths
Are you a parent? A teacher? A school administrator? A special education needs coordinator or consultant? Are you just a lover of children? Do you know anyone who has a child with learning difficulties? Are you interested in enhancing children’s learning ability?
If you answered yes to any of the questions above, then this month’s series on DYSLEXIA is for you. The theme is Understanding Dyslexia. The aim of this series is to uncover what dyslexia really is in the face of prevailing myths. We will be sharing with you the signs, factors responsible, possible intervention plans and strategies, and other interesting information.
Long ago, dyslexia was termed as word blindness. It was also associated with visual impairment. More than it was an educational problem or psychological one, Dyslexia was considered a medical problem that stemmed from damages to brain areas that control language. This introductory article will highlight what dyslexia means and some common myths about dyslexia. You will find out that a child who expresses difficulty reading, or has challenges with sounds or letters of the alphabet is not stupid, lazy or lacking motivation.
What is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia as a word can be broken into two parts- Dys and lexia. Dys means “the absence of” while lexia means language. Thus, Dyslexia is commonly regarded as a difficulty with language which may include: reading, spelling, writing and sometimes speaking.
9 Myths about Dyslexia
1. Dyslexia is a visual problem: Reversing letters as b’s instead of d’s is one of the signs of dyslexia but not a sufficient cause or sign for a dyslexia diagnosis. Most children while learning how to write, may reverse letters and eventually grow out of it.
2. Dyslexia affects only boys: Dyslexia is prevalent in both boys and girls. The reason boys get the most referrals is because of their behaviour. In expressing frustration regarding a reading difficulty, the teacher notices and makes referrals.
3. Poor performance equals dyslexia: Dyslexia as a learning difficulty does not imply intellectual disability. In fact most students with dyslexia may have an average or above average intelligence.
4. Dyslexics cannot read: Children with dyslexia may find it difficult to read, but they can learn to read in which case, it takes them greater effort and more time to read.
5. Dyslexia can be outgrown: Dyslexia as we will see later is a difficulty that stems from impairments in brain functioning. As such, children with dyslexia grow on to become adults who read less automatically like those without dyslexia.
6. Dyslexia is caused by a lack of phonics instruction: Teaching a child phonics will not alleviate dyslexia . While they are able to learn phonics, they experience difficulties applying them.
7. Every child who struggles with reading is dyslexic: Dyslexia is the most common cause of difficulties with reading, but it is by no means the only cause. Dyslexia does not only cause difficulties in reading but also in spelling, speech, and memorization. If a child is dyslexic, there will be other warning signs.
8. People with dyslexia see things backwards: Children with dyslexia do not see things backwards because dyslexia is not a problem with the eyes. Dyslexia may cause people to reverse certain words because of their confusion when discerning between left and right and their difficulties with comprehension.
9. Children with dyslexia are just lazy. They should try harder!: Research has shown that those with dyslexia use a different part of their brain when reading and working with language. Dyslexic people show an abnormal pattern of brain function when reading: they show under-activity in some regions and over-activity in another which, according to researches, accounts for the difficulty they have in extracting meaning from the printed word.
A number of research studies have provided evidence that people with dyslexia are not poorly taught, lazy, or stupid, rather they have an inborn brain abnormality that does not have anything to do with their intelligence. When teachers and parents are not aware of these facts, the child is often labelled or branded as being ‘lazy or stupid.’ If children with dyslexia are not diagnosed early enough or do not receive the right type of intervention or classroom accommodations, they often struggle in school.
With the above myths and corresponding truths to debunk them, it is clear that many people including professionals have the wrong idea regarding the cause, symptoms, diagnoses and interventions for Dyslexia.
Always remember that every child learns uniquely, Dyslexia isn’t stupidity or laziness!
Welcome to the Dyslexia Awareness month! Follow @drmorayojimoh for interesting updates.