What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is riddled with misunderstandings from over the years.  Even now, a quick internet search yields lots of outdated misinformation.  Since at one time dyslexia was referred to as “word blindness” it is no wonder that many people think of dyslexia as a visual issue. The early explanations of dyslexia said that there were defects in the visual system and eye training was prescribed.

We now know that dyslexia is a language-based disorder affecting reading.  The weakness lies in the phonology piece of the language system.  Our phonological skills allow us to hear and understand the sounds that make up our spoken language.  They let us manipulate these sounds and relate the sounds to the letters or symbols that make up our written language.  

Dyslexia is a localized weakness in the phonological system in the brain, so children who have dyslexia have difficulty because the phonemes of language are less sharply defined. While this difficulty with phonological skills interferes with decoding, it does not interfere with the other language skills.  This is why bright children with strong language comprehension can be dyslexic.  The language skills needed for comprehension are not impacted.  

Here are some other facts about dyslexia that help with understanding it: 

  • Dyslexia is persistent, it is not outgrown with time
  • Dyslexia happens in alphabetic and logographic languages
  • There is no difference in the number of boys and girls who have dyslexia 
  • IQ tests have not been shown to predict who will have difficulty with reading
  • Children with dyslexia often have very high levels of language or listening comprehension  
  • People who have dyslexia are often very bright and have a high IQ
  • Early intervention is crucial for children with dyslexia

There are a number of assessments that allow testing psychologists to look for certain traits.  A diagnosis of dyslexia is based on observations and clinical assessments.  These pieces of information show a pattern which testing psychologists use to evaluate a child’s potential and compare it to their current academic performance. Currently, more research is being done to create assessments and screening tools for early diagnosis.  A universal screening tool for early diagnosis will allow more children to be identified and given the specialized instruction they need.  If you are looking for signs of dyslexia, check out our article here:  (link to article on signs of dyslexia in kids)  

 If you would like to learn more in-depth information about dyslexia, check out these books on dyslexia (add link to books on dyslexia brief) to find a great book by leading researchers.  

LightSail has implemented supports to help children who struggle with reading. In the Personalized Reader, parents and children can make choices about the type of supports to be used while reading.  This could include limiting the number of lines viewed at a time or dividing the multisyllabic words into syllables.  A teacher or learning specialist can also help make decisions about what might be best for your child.  Also included in LightSail are thousands of audiobooks, spelling and vocabulary support, writing instruction, and loads of informational texts and videos.  LightSail’s gamification entices children to meet their goals and earn badges.  There is something for every learner to enjoy.

Posted on 9.Sep.21 in Struggling Readers

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