Understanding Dyslexia

Understanding Dyslexia

The most common type of reading disability is dyslexia. In schools or other settings, you may hear the term “Specific Reading Disorder/Disability” used interchangeably with the term “Dyslexia”. Dyslexia is a neurological condition that affects the way an individual processes written language. It is important to note that dyslexia has nothing to do with a person’s intelligence or their potential for success. Instead, it is a specific learning disability that requires specialized approaches to help individuals reach their full potential.

Dyslexia is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition, as well as by poor spelling and decoding abilities. Dyslexia is not a result of lack of intelligence, effort, or vision problems. Instead, it is primarily caused by differences in the way the brain processes language, which can affect reading, writing, and spelling skills.

One common misconception about dyslexia is that persons with dyslexia see words and letters backwards, mixed up, or reversed. While people with dyslexia sometimes describe reading as feeling like the words are all mixed up, they don’t actually see the words any different than someone without dyslexia. Rather, they have difficulty processing the sounds that the letters make.

Common Signs of Dyslexia

  • Difficulty in Decoding Words: Individuals with dyslexia often struggle to decode words, which means they may have difficulty associating sounds with the corresponding letters.
  • Spelling Challenges: Spelling is a common area of difficulty for individuals with dyslexia. They may find it hard to remember the sequence of letters in a word.
  • Slow Reading Speed: Reading can be a slow and effortful process for someone with dyslexia. They may read at a much slower pace compared to their peers.
  • Difficulty with Phonological Awareness: This involves recognizing and manipulating sounds in spoken language. People with dyslexia may have trouble distinguishing the individual sounds within spoken words. For example, a child may not be able to answer the question “What rhymes with cat?”
  • Mispronunciation: Dyslexia can lead to mispronunciation, as the individual may struggle to associate sounds with the corresponding letters.

Strategies for Supporting Individuals with Dyslexia

1. Multi-Sensory Approaches

Utilizing multiple senses (like sight, hearing, and touch) during learning can be highly effective for individuals with dyslexia. For instance, programs like Orton-Gillingham or Wilson Reading System employ multi-sensory techniques to teach reading and spelling.

2. Structured and Explicit Phonics Programs

These programs focus on teaching the structure of language explicitly, including phonemes, morphemes, syntax, and semantics. They are designed to help individuals with dyslexia develop strong language skills.

3. Assistive Technology

Tools like text-to-speech software, audiobooks, and speech recognition software can be incredibly beneficial for individuals with dyslexia. They provide alternative methods for accessing information.

Dyslexia Therapy

Dyslexia therapy involves specialized instruction provided by trained professionals. Therapists use evidence-based techniques to address the specific challenges faced by individuals with dyslexia. This can include:

  • Phonological Awareness Training: Focusing on sound-symbol relationships and sound manipulation skills.
  • Reading Fluency Interventions: Strategies to improve reading speed and comprehension.
  • Spelling Remediation: Techniques to enhance spelling skills.

Personalized Learning Plans, Such as IEPs

A personalized learning plan is crucial for individuals with dyslexia. It tailors instruction to meet the unique needs of the individual. These plans can include:

  • Specific Goals: Clearly defined objectives related to language, reading, writing, and spelling.
  • Regular Progress Monitoring: Assessments to track improvements and adjust strategies accordingly.
  • Incorporating Strengths: Recognizing and leveraging the individual’s strengths in the learning process.

Understanding dyslexia is the first step towards providing effective support. With the right strategies, therapies, and personalized learning plans, individuals with dyslexia can overcome challenges and unlock their full potential. Remember, every person with dyslexia is unique, and what works best may vary from one individual to another. Patience, empathy, and tailored approaches are key in helping them succeed.

For more information and resources on dyslexia, consider reaching out to organizations like the International Dyslexia Association or your local educational support services. Galvin Growth Group is also able to provide evaluations to assess for dyslexia, including offering individualized recommendations and collaborating with your child’s school to develop a personalized plan. 



Understood.org, What Is Dyslexia?

Mayo Clinic, Dyslexia 

School of Education, Teaching Strategies for Students with Dyslexia

Written by G3 contributing writer Kara Ferreira, and reviewed by G3 therapists Dr. Julie Galvin and Dr. Elizabeth Snyder.