Dyslexia – Facts and Fiction

Common Myths About Dyslexia

Many myths concerning dyslexia persist today even though scientific research into dyslexia consistently dispels these notions. About 5% of children have dyslexia and the topic is of great interest to educational researchers.

• People with dyslexia see letters and words backwards.    Fiction
There is no credible scientific evidence for this. All children learning to read will sometimes do this.

• Dyslexia is a brain-based issue.   Fact
MRI scans show that the brain of someone with dyslexia is structurally and functionally different from others.

• Dyslexia is a visual problem:   Fiction
Individuals with dyslexia see the world as well as any other person.

• Dyslexia runs in families.   Fact
There appears to be a genetic link to dyslexia. It is common to have more than one person with dyslexia in a family.

• Diet can cause and treat dyslexia:   Fiction
There is no evidence that dyslexia has anything to do with diet.

• Dyslexia is inherently a difficulty in learning to read.   Fact
People with dyslexia typically appear to be cognitively normal except for a great difficulty in learning to read.

• People with dyslexia don’t try hard enough and are lazy.   Fiction
Research shows that dyslexia is brain-based and has nothing to do with effort. Dyslexic individuals have brain-based problems attaching sounds to letters and words. This is what inhibits learning to read.

• How brain differences affect reading.    Fact
The differences in the brain associated with dyslexia affect phonemic awareness, the ability to connect letters and words to sounds. This makes learning to read difficult.

• Dyslexia is a sign of low intellegence.   Fiction
Research shows that this is absolutely not true. Most people with dyslexia show normal intelligence but have a great difficulty in learning to read.

•. Early identification of dyslexia is important.   Fact
Research shows that the younger a child is when intervening the more like that the intervention will be successful.

• Early phonics instruction can cure dyslexia.   Fiction
Many dyslexic students can benefit by early and intensive phonics instruction. However, there is a significant percentage of dyslexics that do not. They are referred to as “treatment resistant students.”

• Dyslexia can be accompanied by other learning problems:    Fact
It is common for a dyslexic student to be diagnosed with other learning difficulties. Among these are math, attentional issues and others affecting academic learning.

• Dyslexia is primarily a male disorder:   Fiction
Early research seemed to show that many more boys were diagnosed with dyslexia than girls. However, later research indicated that was because boys were more likely to be evaluated than girls.

• Dyslexia is more prevalent in some countries than others.   Fact
Dyslexia is much more common in the U.S. than it is in Italy. This is because English, for example, has many words that are pronounced differently than they look (e.g., iron).  In contrast, Italian words are pronounced exactly as spelling would suggest.

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