With the help of Casey Harrison, CALT, LDT, founder of the new Wimberley Dyslexia & Learning Center, I was recently able to traverse through some of the myths surrounding dyslexia. The label dyslexic is often thrown around when describing young readers who are struggling. Research tells us that 1 in 5 students currently have a language based learning disorder. It is important to have accurate and factual information about it.
The International Dyslexia Association defines dyslexia as a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. Dyslexia is characterized by difficulty in learning to read, write, and spell accurately. Dyslexia does not affect everyone in the same way; it occurs on a continuum; it is a language-based disorder, not a vision problem; it is not an intellectual deficit; and it runs in families. The most important thing to know and to communicate to struggling readers is that dyslexia does not mean that you can’t learn, can’t be successful, can’t achieve. In fact, many very successful and well-known scientists, doctors, writers, politicians, and entertainers also have dyslexia.
To overcome dyslexia, students need explicit, research-based and proven multisensory and systematic instruction which is often delivered in a very small group setting. There are many such approaches that are beneficial to all students and can be incorporated into all classrooms, such as the use of a “growth mindset” approach where mistakes are learning opportunities not failures. Dyslexic students are just students who learn a little differently. As educators, it is our job to dispel the myths, find and teach the tools and approaches that will benefit all students inclusively, and remember that highlighting strengths in students rather than focusing on challenges can make a huge difference in a child’s way forward.