What is Dyslexia?

Definition of Dyslexia

Dyslexia, as defined by The National Institute of Health, is "a brain-based type of learning disability that specifically impairs a person's ability to read. Individuals with dyslexia typically read at levels significantly lower than expected despite having normal intelligence. Although the disorder varies from person to person, common characteristics among people with dyslexia are difficulty with phonological processing (the manipulation of sounds), spelling, and/or rapid visual-verbal responding. Dyslexia can be inherited in some families, and recent studies have identified a number of genes that may predispose an individual to developing dyslexia." While 20 states have adopted various definitions of dyslexia, Learning Ally supports this research founded, nationally recognized definition.

Take the dyslexia screener to see whether you or your child show signs of dyslexia. This screener is not a substitute for an evaluation by a professional dyslexia specialist.

Dr. Sally Shaywitz on Learning Ally for Dyslexia

One of the world's leading authorities on dyslexia explains how audio textbooks from Learning Ally help people with this pervasive learning difference.

What it Means to Have Dyslexia

The most prominent sign of dyslexia is difficulty in learning to read and spell. People with dyslexia often lead very successful lives, they simply learn differently. Researchers understand that:

  • Dyslexia is a problem that arises from difficulties or inefficiencies in the brain in analyzing and processing individual letter sounds (called phonemes)
  • Dyslexics have problems blending phonemes into words at a speed that allows comprehension and fluency
  • People Common Traits include: poor decoding and word identification skills, slow growth in vocabulary, confusing words and letters that look similar, difficulty blending letter sounds within words, skips over or transposes words while reading, avoids reading tasks and trouble understanding the difference between sounds in words.

How Common is Dyslexia

Reading disorders like dyslexia are the most common type of learning disorder

  • About 80% of children in Special Education have Dyslexia/Specific Learning Disability and 10% to 20% of all students have significant, ongoing difficulties with learning to read, reading fluency and/or reading comprehension
  • Only about 5% are referred for special help in reading

Dyslexia is an equal opportunity disability

  • Dyslexia occurs in people of all races and income levels
  • Dyslexia is not linked to low intelligence (low IQ)
  • Many people with dyslexia have average or above average intelligence
  • Dyslexia is not outgrown; most children with dyslexia continue to learn less effectively than their peers if they do not have the appropriate services and accommodations

Living with Dyslexia

Dyslexia can't be cured, but it can be managed.

There is no cure for dyslexia, but dyslexic individuals can learn to read, write, and spell with educational support:

  • There are techniques and assistive technologies such as Learning Ally audiobooks that can help all dyslexics
  • Removing stress and anxiety alone can improve reading comprehension and providing access to grade level content is vital
  • Early intervention is easier when language areas in the brain are still developing and this can help reduce some long-term impacts of dyslexia