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Frequently Asked Questions

What is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a learning disability that affects one’s ability to easily process written and/or verbal language.

The following definition of dyslexia was adopted by the IDA Board of Directors on November 12th, 2002. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) also uses this definition.

Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological 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.


How do I know if a person is dyslexic?

If a person exhibits several of the characteristics listed in “Common Signs of Dyslexia” and the difficulties are unexpected for the person’s age, educational level or cognitive abilities, the person should be tested by an educational diagnostician or a team of trained professionals. It is important to note that “Common Signs” are only indicators, not proof of dyslexia. Testing by a qualified examiner is the only way to verify that an individual has dyslexic.


Are there other learning disabilities besides dyslexia?

Dyslexia is one type of learning disability. Others include:

  • Dyscalculia – a mathematical disability in which a person has unusual difficulty solving arithmetic problems and grasping math concepts;
  • Dysgraphia – a neurological-based writing disability in which a person finds that it is hard to form letters or write within a defined space.

No, they are behavioral disorders. An individual can have more than one learning or behavioral disorder. In various studies, as many as 50% of those diagnosed with a learning or reading disability have also been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD. Although disabilities may co-occur, one is not the cause of the other.


How common are language-based learning disabilities?

15-20% of the population has a language-based learning disability. Of the students with specific learning disabilities receiving special education services, 70-80% have deficits in reading. Dyslexia is the most common cause of reading, writing and spelling difficulties. Dyslexia affects males and females nearly equally, as well as people from different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds.


Can individuals who are dyslexic learn to read?

Yes, if children with dyslexia receive effective reading instruction in Kindergarten and 1st grade, they will have significantly fewer problems learning to read at grade level than do children who are not identified or helped until 3rd grade. 74% of the children who are poor readers in 3rd grade remain poor readers in the 9th grade. Often they continue to struggle with reading as adults.

It is never too late for individuals with dyslexia to learn to read, process and express information more efficiently. Research shows that programs utilizing multisensory structured language techniques can help children and adults learn to read.


How do people get dyslexia?

The causes for dyslexia are neurobiological and genetic. Individuals inherit the genetic links for dyslexia. Chances are that one of the child’s parents, grandparents, aunts, or uncles is dyslexic.


Is there a cure for dyslexia?

No, dyslexia is not a disease. There is no cure.

With proper diagnosis, appropriate instruction, hard work and support from family, teachers, friends, and others, individuals with dyslexia can succeed in school, and later as working adults.


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