Everyone’s got an opinion on dyslexia. It means something different to each person. So what is it really? Can we actually boil it down to one definition?
Medical News Today (MNT) defined it as recently as September 2014: “Dyslexia is a specific reading disability due to a defect in the brain's processing of graphic symbols. It is a learning disability that alters the way the brain processes written material. It is typically characterized by difficulties in word recognition, spelling, decoding… [and] reading comprehension.”
That sounds scientific enough, but there are so many facets to dyslexia, so many unpredictable inconstancies and mutable aspects, that it creates a muddled and tangled image for us. Even with medical definitions of dyslexia at our fingertips, we are still fighting the same questions which plagued scientists and doctors 150 years ago: how do we define dyslexia and what can we do about it?
This mini-lesson is part of a TED talk that clears away much of the confusion we may have about what dyslexia is and where it comes from:
In point of fact, dyslexia is a very difficult condition to pin down even now because it is totally diverse by nature. The effects vary from person to person. The only common feature among people with this condition is found in their reading abilities: “they read at levels significantly lower than typical for people of their age” (MNT, 2014). The diverse symptoms of dyslexia manifest themselves in so many forms that it may go unrecognized by parents or teachers for many years. And without a diagnosis, many adults are not prepared to support and supplement their students’ learning where it is needed. This is the origin of the stigma against learning disabilities in the classroom. Their effects are not understood fully, and the frustration of the teachers or parents leads to a belief that children with learning disabilities (particularly dyslexia) are “low-functioning”, “under-achieving”, or even lazy.
But if this sounds like the making of a lifetime of academic isolation, you are mistaken. The company of those with dyslexia is enormous. The University of Michigan Health System claims that dyslexia is the most common learning disability on the globe. Of the students with learning disabilities, up to 80% have dyslexia. Over 30 million Americans—(some even estimate the number is above 40 million)—deal with symptoms of dyslexia. That’s almost 20% of the US.
With so many people around the world dealing with the same condition, why is dyslexia not better recognized and more confidently addressed in school? The answer is that the education system is still learning too. Legislation is in motion and studies are pouring in from top universities everywhere all trying to answer the question of students with dyslexia. It is a slow process of adaptation and accommodation, and it certainly will not transform the education system all at once.
But this is not the signal to run up the white flag—not even close. Just because the school system as a government body cannot fully provide for children with dyslexia right now, individuals—teachers, tutors, parents—are often more aware and more prepared. With the help of those who know how to effectively reach these learners, students with dyslexia can learn how to embrace it and play it to their strengths. Reading and writing for these students takes practice and individualized learning, and as the video above suggests, the potential for growth is massive. Students with dyslexia can train their brains—physically altering the mechanisms and strength of their mental processes—to spell, write, read, and comprehend better… and faster.
Tennessee Dyslexia Centers is here for you and can help your struggling reader. We are equipped to work with all ages and have the ability to increase your child's reading skills drastically. Contact our office for a free consultation today! 615-236-6483 | firstname.lastname@example.org
More information on the specific types of dyslexia can be found on the “What is Dyslexia” tab of this website.