What is Dyslexia?
Many people are under the impression that dyslexia is just the reversal of letters or numbers. While these reversals do occur for some people, dyslexia goes deeper than simply being a visual discrimination problem.
The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) adopted the following definition in 2002.
“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.”
More simply put, in the word, dyslexia, “dys” means difficulty and “lexia” means language. Thus, dyslexia means difficulty with language. Individuals have difficulty reading and spelling words using decoding and encoding.
Who is Dyslexic?
Steven Spielberg, Director
Henry Winkler, Actor
Mohammed Ali, World Heavyweight Champion Boxer
Daymond John, Entrepreneur
Dr. Toby Cosgrove, CEO Cleveland Clinic
Besides being highly successful and famous, this handful of individuals also shares the diagnosis of dyslexia.
Dyslexia affects one in every 20 people. That means in a classroom of 30 children, five to six students have significant reading difficulties. Students can have mild to severe dyslexia, and dyslexia has no relationship to intelligence. In fact, many of our dyslexic friends are smart, out of the box thinkers! Because these students have many other strengths, they often don’t qualify for special education services. Dyslexia occurs equally in boys and girls, and runs in families.
What are the signs of Dyslexia?
Some of the signs of dyslexia include, but are not limited to the following:
- mixing up sounds and syllables in long words
- slow to make the connection between letters and sounds
- constant confusion of left versus right
- letter or number reversals continuing past the end of first grade – d for b
- word reversals – pit for tip
- extreme difficulty learning cursive
- slow, choppy, inaccurate reading
- terrible spelling
- can’t remember sight words or homonyms
- when speaking, difficulty finding correct word
- limited vocabulary
- poor written expression- large discrepancy between verbal skills and written compositions
What type of instruction do students with dyslexia need?
Students diagnosed with dyslexia or suspected to have dyslexia need instruction using a multi-sensory, structured language approach. Effective reading instruction incorporates the elements of phonology, sound-symbol association, syllables, morphology, syntax and semantics through instruction that utilizes systematic, cumulative, explicit and diagnostic principles.
A+ Solutions offers two structured language approaches: Wilson Language Training and the Barton Reading & Spelling System.
Barton, Susan. “Bright Solutions for Dyslexia.” Bright Solutions | What Is Dyslexia? N.p., n.d. Web. 30 June 2017.
Cowen, Barbara D. “What Is Structured Literacy?” International Dyslexia Association | …until Everyone Can Read! N.p., Summer 2016. Web. 30 June 2017.
Mather, Nancy, and Barbara J. Wendling. Essentials of Dyslexia Assessment and Intervention. Hoboken, NJ: J. Wiley, 2012. Print.
“MULTISENSORY STRUCTURED LANGUAGE TEACHING.” International Dyslexia Association | …until Everyone Can Read! N.p., n.d. Web. 30 June 2017.
Elizabeth Hipwell, M.Ed.
Certified Barton Reading & Spelling Tutor
Elizabeth earned her M.Ed. in Special Education from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and holds a BA in Speech & Hearing Disorders from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. In addition to serving students with learning differences at the elementary and middle school levels, she has also worked in higher education as the Disability Services Coordinator at Penn State Erie. Elizabeth now specializes in the area of dyslexia, providing intensive intervention using the Barton Reading & Spelling System, and offering in depth screenings for dyslexia. Elizabeth strives to provide awareness and education on behalf of all students who struggle because of learning differences. She is a member of the International Dyslexia Association.