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Dyslexia: What It Is & What It Isn’t

My child reverses her b‘s and d‘s.

My child sometimes writes words backwards (EES for see).

My child reads some words backwards or mixes up the words in a sentence.


Ever wondered this yourself?  I know I did as a classroom teacher before I had learned very much about it.  Just this past week, I had a couple of homeschooling mamas approach me and ask this about their child.  I explained as best I could, but quickly realized I needed to brush up a bit.

So, I pulled out one of my school notebooks and found the article published in 2007 by theInternational Reading Association called Dyslexia and the Brain: What Does Current Research Tell Us? by Hudson, High, and Al Otaiba.  There is some great info in this article, but my favorite thing about is that it explains what dyslexia is and what it isn’t.

What Dyslexia IS…

  •  Neurological in nature- the part of the brain that is responsible for language is structured differently than that of a “normal” reader
  • Trouble processing at a phonological level (i.e. rhyming, blending or segmenting sounds or phonemes in words)
  • Trouble processing and matching letter sounds to letter symbols (phonics)
  • This language processing issue can make it difficult for the student to: 1) recognize “known” words quickly, affecting fluency, 2) decode unknown words, 3) spell, and 4) comprehend text.

What Dyslexia ISN’T…

  •  A visual perception problem
  • Reversing letters, words or sentences.  This is extremely common for the reader/writer in the early stages of literacy development-and as Adams puts it: these common reversals just show that the letter formations/words aren’t firmly established just yet.  Students who have dyslexia may also do these things, but just because your child makes these reversals DOES NOT mean she is dyslexic.
  • A problem only for students who are “at risk”.
  • A problem only for boys–just as many girls are diagnosed with it.
  •  Outgrown over time.  While students in the lower grades who are identified and worked with may do better, dyslexia lasts through adulthood.

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