What is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a specific learning disability (SLD) 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.
Individuals who have challenges mastering language skills such as reading, writing and spelling, but have had normal learning opportunities and show ability in other areas, may have dyslexia. For many people with dyslexia, learning language skills (reading, writing and spelling) is frustrating and confusing.
Studies indicate that nearly 20 percent of the population — one in five individuals — may have some degree of this language-based learning disability (Shaywitz 1988). Of those who have dyslexia, many possess above average intellect. One study, conducted by Cass Business School in London (November 2007), found that more than a third of U.S. entrepreneurs surveyed identified themselves as dyslexic. The study also concluded that those with dyslexia were more likely to excel in problem solving and oral communication, and to delegate authority. Indeed, those with dyslexia often have exceptional abilities in disciplines that require visual, spatial and/or motor integration. For more information, download this wonderful article by Drs. Eide.
Dyslexia is not a reading disorder in the most technical sense; it is a language-based learning disability that has its origins in a glitch in the language processing areas of the brain’s left hemisphere, including an under-activated neural system in the back of the brain. As a result, readers with dyslexia have to rely upon a ‘manual’ rather than on an automatic system for reading (Shaywitz 2000). In short, dyslexic brains fire differently than average brains when stimulated by language.
As such, individuals with dyslexia must learn to interact with language in a way that complements their unique learning styles, utilizing multi-sensory, research-based and explicit instruction. The good news is, with the right remediation, dyslexic learners can master reading, writing, spelling and math and reach their full potentials! In fact, many go on to lead quite successful lives.
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