4 Myths of Dyslexia
Updated: Mar 10
It’s pretty much common knowledge that dyslexia is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent reading. But why do so many educators and parents avoid using the word dyslexia to describe a child struggling to read? This is a timely question since October is Dyslexia Awareness Month.
In 2015, the U.S. Department of Education reminded schools that they can use the term dyslexia to describe reading difficulties and poor spelling problems. However, educators skirt around the issue and parents sometimes avoid asking the right questions. So, the best way to bring dyslexia to the forefront of minds of educators and parents is to unravel some myths that people still hold onto about dyslexia. Here are some myths that deserve more attention:
Myth 1: Dyslexics are not as smart as their non-dyslexic peers.
Students with dyslexia are just as smart, if not smarter, than students without dyslexia. Repeated studies have shown that although dyslexia is a neurological condition that affects regions of the left brain, the condition is not related to intelligence. As a matter of fact, studies show that dyslexics have unique gifts in intelligence.
Myth 2: Students with dyslexia eventually catch up to their non-dyslexic peers.
Kids with dyslexia who don’t receive any interventions tend to develop a wider gap in their reading skills as they progress through each grade. On a secondary level, difficulties in reading can affect reading comprehension. They may also read less to avoid the labor required to read fluently. This can also spill over into a poor vocabulary and low general fund of knowledge. Contrary to some untrue beliefs, kids with dyslexia do not catch up with their peers over time when they are not identified and supported. Parents should seek out early identification and intervention if they fear that their child’s reading is not commensurate with their same age peers.
Myth 3: My son can’t have dyslexia, since I was a fine reader.
Although studies show a strong genetic link, dyslexia is not something that can be only predicted with a review of family history alone. Kids with dyslexia have differences in the way their brain is structured and wired. So, parents should seek out the services of your child’s school to assess reading skill development or seek out a child psychologist who can provide a more thorough assessment.
Myth 4: Dyslexics reverse their letter and numbers.
Most people still hold on to the notion that dyslexics reverse their letters and numbers. That’s not the case. It is a language-based disorder. Many children in early grades reverse letters when learning to write. There is no evidence that they actually see letters and words backward. Children with dyslexia either struggle with phonological awareness or rapid naming or a combination of the two. The former has to do with picking up on the Alphabetic Principle, which helps us read accurately. The later involves the ability to quickly name objects by sight. This weakness creates a lag in developing reading fluency as well as reading accuracy.
Dyslexia is often missed in young students and can lead to a host of problems later on. It’s important to get students the help that they need early on so they can bypass difficulties. Many educators and parents work under false assumptions that their child’s reading will catch up to that of their peers. Often, this is not the case and waiting too long can lead to children learning a host of poor coping skills that only may cause additional problems. A reading specialist can help.
As always, the support and resources of an educational therapist who can build phonological awareness through multi-sensory strategies is one of the best approaches to helping struggling readers.