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Dyslexia Facts

The International Dyslexia Association adopted the following definition in 2002.










Adopted by the IDA Board of Directors, Nov. 12, 2002.
And the National Institute of Child Health and Human  

Development (NICHHD). 

What is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability and is the most common cause of reading, writing, and spelling difficulty. Current estimates are that 10-20% of the population is affected (NICHHD). Dyslexia occurs in people of all backgrounds, intellectual levels, languages, cultures, and genders. Children with dyslexia are often thought of as bright, creative, imaginative, verbal, and otherwise capable of learning.
They may experience difficulties with sequencing, reading recall, listening, following directions, and organizing their thoughts or expressing them clearly. Dyslexia is not due to either lack of intelligence or the desire to learn. With appropriate teaching methods, people with dyslexia can learn successfully. Dyslexia often runs in families and is not uncommon for one of the child’s relatives to have dyslexia or to have struggled with reading, writing, or spelling.

There are many commonly identified early signs of dyslexia. Because dyslexia occurs on a continuum, some children are mildly affected, and others are profoundly affected. Dyslexia may present differently in similarly aged children, based on individual strengths and weaknesses. Early identification followed by appropriate evidence-based interventions are the key to your child meeting their academic potential. Research confirms that early (K-2) targeted instruction is the best way to address these challenges. It is important to note that dyslexia is not the result of a lack of motivation or inability to work hard enough. Children with dyslexia lack some essential skills that are required for fluent reading.

What is Dyslexia - Video


Signs of Dyslexia


  • Delayed speech

  • The trouble with nursery rhymes, or difficulty rhyming

  • Mispronunciation of words, persistent “baby talk”

  • Difficulty learning names of letters and their sounds.


  • Inability to associate letters with sounds

  • Difficulty rhyming

  • Mispronunciation of known words, i.e., “spaghetti” becomes “basghetti”

  • Inability to read common one-syllable words or sound out simple words, i.e., mat, cat, hop, nap

  • Complaints about how hard it is to read, and avoids reading

  • Failure to understand that words can come apart into smaller sounds

  • Difficulty following instructions

  • Frustration and avoidance with challenging tasks

  • Right and left confusion

  • Family history of reading problems in parents or siblings

2nd grade and beyond

  • Speech that is not fluent, often pausing or hesitating

  • Using words like “stuff” or “thingy” to reference

  • Not able to find the exact word, i.e., “volcano” for “tornado”

  • Needs additional time to answer questions

  • Appears to have no memory for words

  • Difficulty remembering names, dates, telephone numbers, lists

  • Difficulty with sequences, days of the week, months, seasons

  • Difficulty memorizing math facts

  • Symbol confusion, <, >, +. -, =, x, ÷

  • Trouble reading math word problems

  • Very slow reading development

  • Lack of strategy to read new words

  • Trouble reading unknown words

  • Inability to read small “function words” such as “that”, “an”, “in”

  • Fear of reading out loud, avoids all reading

  • Oral reading filled with substitutions, omissions, and mispronunciations

  • Oral reading is choppy, labored, and not smooth or fluent, and lacks expression

  • Can’t read quickly or fluently enough for comprehension

  • Inability to finish tests on time

  • Often overwhelmed with writing assignments but comfortable with verbal

  • Expression

  • Disastrous spelling, often missed by spell check

  • Messy handwriting

  • Extreme difficulty learning a foreign language


Middle and High School

  • Surprisingly sophisticated listening vocabulary.

  • Excellence in areas not dependent on reading such as math, computers, an
    visual arts

  • Poor and inconsistent spelling

  • Poor punctuation, capitalization

  • Difficulty learning new vocabulary

  • Slow, choppy reading

  • Dislike of reading and writing, avoidant of oral reading and writing publicly

  • Poor organization of writing assignments

  • Difficulty with notetaking, scheduling, planning, and time management skills

  • Difficulty with a second language

  • After High School

  • Reading aloud is avoided

  • Reading and writing remain challenging

  • Difficulty decoding multisyllabic words

  • Keeping up with large amounts of reading and writing 

  • Writing tasks (assignments, essays, emails, note-taking) is difficult

  • Despite reading difficulty, students with dyslexia can have excellent higher-level thinking processes.


People with dyslexia often have:

  • Excellent thinking skills: conceptualization, reasoning, imagination, abstraction

  • Learning is best accomplished through meaning and not memorization

  • Ability to get the “big picture”



If you suspect your child has dyslexia or show signs of reading struggles, contact your

child’s teacher. The earlier the challenge can be identified, the earlier an appropriate

intervention can begin. Children with dyslexia can reach grade-level reading. Additional

supports or accommodations can also be put in place to decrease the stress the child

feels and support their challenge while receiving effective instruction. Accommodations

allow students to show their best work at school.

Adapted from Overcoming Dyslexia, Sally Shaywitz, M.D. and The International

Dyslexia Association

“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 the growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.”

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