October is Dyslexia Awareness Month. It is estimated that up to 20% of people nationwide show symptoms of dyslexia. Successful people like Steven Spielberg, Whoopi Goldberg, and Charles Schwab have been diagnosed with this learning disability that affects language skills, leading to difficulties in reading, spelling, and writing.
Although dyslexia is common, it is also misunderstood. Here are five common myths about dyslexia to share with friends and family.
MYTH: Dyslexia is visual, and so children and adults see and write letters backwards, like mixing up “b” and “d”.
FACT: Many children reverse letters when learning to write, regardless of whether or not they have dyslexia. Dyslexia manifests in different ways and times for every child.
MYTH: There are no clues before a child enters school that he or she may have dyslexia.
FACT: Dr. Sally Shaywitz, a global a global leader in dyslexia, notes that dyslexia can manifest early in ways such as trouble learning common nursery rhymes or problems learning to recognize letters in their own names.
MYTH: Dyslexia affects boys more than girls.
FACT: Boys with dyslexia are more frequently identified, but dyslexia affects both genders almost equally. A study coauthored by Dr. Sally Shaywitz found that girls tend to quietly muddle through challenges while boys were more likely to act out, leading more boys to be diagnosed.
MYTH: If you have dyslexia, you can’t be smart.
FACT: Dyslexia has nothing to do with intelligence. It occurs in children of all backgrounds and intelligence levels. Learners can be both gifted and dyslexic. In fact, Dr. Carol Greider, who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2009, has dyslexia and struggled in elementary school.
MYTH: People with dyslexia are just lazy and need to work harder.
FACT: Dyslexia is a neurological disorder, meaning the dyslexic brain functions differently. It has nothing to do with effort. In fact, many children with dyslexia have try harder than their peers. Children and adults with dyslexia often find alternative ways of gathering knowledge and develop their own strategies to learn, work, and achieve in life.
Identifying dyslexia is often a multistep process. But, the sooner a child is screened, diagnosed, and given support, the more likely it is he or she will enjoy and be successful in school. Research continues to support the need for screening for dyslexia, leading to early identification.
Pearson has put together a training video for educators to learn more: Dyslexia at a Glance