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What is dyslexia?

Dyslexia has been around for a long time and has been defined in different ways. For example, in 1968, the World Federation of Neurologists defined dyslexia as "a disorder in children who, despite conventional classroom experience, fail to attain the language skills of reading, writing, and spelling commensurate with their intellectual abilities." The International Dyslexia Association offers the following definition of dyslexia:

"Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It 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 that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge."

Dyslexia is the most common learning disability in children and persists throughout life. The severity of dyslexia can vary from mild to severe. The sooner dyslexia is treated, the more favorable the outcome. However, it is never too late for people with dyslexia to learn to improve their language skills.

Dyslexia can go undetected in the early grades of schooling. Children can become frustrated by the difficulty in learning to read. It is important to note that other problems can disguise dyslexia such as a child may:

  • Show signs of depression and low self-esteem
  • Have behavior problems at home, as well as at school that often manifest
  • Become unmotivated and develop a dislike for school, and their success may be jeopardized if the problem remains untreated
Return to Dyslexia

See what others are saying

Comment from: polly S., 7-12 Male (Caregiver) Published: February 24

My son has dyslexia, and my husband is treating him with ADD (attention deficit disorder) medicine. I am saddened my son is drugged because of his learning difference.

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Comment from: therese90, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: January 12

I searched for dyslexia and I found this article directed towards children. I am an adult that has lived a life of probably being undiagnosed. So I find this a bit upsetting this really is directed to children. I have a lot to learn and wonder why this illness is not more specific for adults and children.

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Comment from: ANNE, 13-18 Male (Caregiver) Published: October 08

My son aged 13 has been diagnosed with dyslexia since he was aged 10. I knew for a long time that he had difficulty as he has great problems with reading writing and math. He also has difficulty with sequencing of events: times, days of the week, and months of the year. He has just started secondary school and is finding the transition very difficult.

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