About Dyslexia


No matter how you started on the path to learning more about dyslexia, we are all walking together. By promoting structured literacy through research, education and advocacy, we at the IDA-RMB hope we can answer some questions for you along the way.

What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is not a disease; it has no cure. Dyslexia is a learning disability that affects one’s ability to easily process written and/or verbal language. It is the most common cause of reading, writing and spelling difficulties. Furthermore, it affects males and females nearly equally, as well as people from different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. Dyslexia results from differences in the structure and function of the brain. This neurological difference causes individuals with dyslexia to learn differently. The problem is not behavioral, psychological, motivational, or social. It is not a problem of vision; people with dyslexia do not “see backward.”

The following definition of dyslexia was adopted by the IDA board of Directors, November 12th, 2002. This definition is also used by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD):

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.

What Characteristics Accompany Dyslexia?
(Note that few individuals with dyslexia exhibit all the potential signs.)

  • Delayed spoken language
  • Errors in letter naming
  • Difficulty in learning and remembering printed words
  • Repeated spelling errors
  • Difficulty with handwriting
  • Difficulty in finding the “right” word when speaking
  • Slow rate of writing
  • Deficient written and oral language skills
  • Uncertainty as to right- or left-handedness
  • Difficulties in mathematical calculations
  • Difficulties with language in math problems
  • Similar problems among relatives
  • Difficulty with organization
  • Lack of awareness of sounds in words, sound order, rhymes, or sequence of syllables
  • Difficulty decoding words – single word identification
  • Difficulty encoding words – spelling
  • Poor sequencing of numbers, of letters in words, when read or written, e.g.: b-d; sing-sign; left-felt; soiled-solid; 12-21
  • Problems with reading comprehension
  • Difficulty expressing thoughts in written form
  • Imprecise or incomplete interpretation of language that is heard
  • Difficulty in expressing thoughts orally
  • Confusion about directions in space or time (right & left, up & down, early & late, yesterday & tomorrow, months & days)

For more information, check out The IDA Handbooks or the IDA Fact Sheets.

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