Dyslexia is too often misunderstood. Although “dyslexia” is recognized to be a form of a reading disability, many educators and even some professionals believe that mirror writing, or letter or word reversals is a common characteristic of dyslexia. Today, however, we know that this is simply not the case. Mirror writing and/or letter/number reversals, are not common symptoms typical of dyslexia. Children up to the age of 7 years old will often confuse b’s as d’s, or p’s as q’s as well as other letters and numbers and even some words, but with maturity this tendency usually disappears by the age of 8 years old. In short, students with dyslexia usually have difficulty with naming letters and not with copying letters.
The belief that mirror writing is reflective of dyslexia stems from our earlier understanding of dyslexia. In the 1920’s, dyslexia was understood to be a deficit in the visual system. Despite advanced knowledge and understanding, this myth continues.
What is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a lifelong condition and is the most common learning challenge that students face. It is generally due to neurological and hereditary factors. Dyslexia is not due to poor reading instruction, low intelligence or laziness. Often, other family members also have dyslexia.
Dyslexia affects people in many different ways. In general, dyslexia makes it hard for people to read with accuracy and fluency. Individuals who have dyslexia may have trouble answering questions about something they read. However, when the text is read to them, they generally experience no difficulty.
Dyslexia is characterized by poor word recognition, decoding and spelling. Specifically, it is primarily due to a language processing deficit. Modern day research reveals that dyslexia is the result of a deficit with the processing of phonemes. Phonemes are the smallest meaningful sound units of language. These deficits result in difficulty reading (decode) words, reading words with fluency, and understanding what was read. Dyslexia can also affect written language skills and mathematics.
Early Signs of Dyslexia
Some of the early signs of dyslexia include difficulty with:
- recognizing letters,
- learning letter sound connections,
- pronouncing words clearly,
- blending parts of words into whole words and/or
Unfortunately, these challenges may persist despite intensive instruction and remediation.
Consequences of Dyslexia
Without the necessary supports, most individuals with dyslexia will:
- be quite frustrated
- demonstrate behavioral issues
- be reluctant readers or avoid reading altogether
- demonstrate poor self esteem and poor self confidence
- be anxious
Some Recommended Assistive Technology Tools
With technology advancing at such a rapid pace, we now have a number of assistive technology tools that can help support students who struggle with reading. These technologies include digitized readers (such as Kobo, Kindle) as well as audible books.
Additionally, there are several apps that can assist development of pre-reading skills or phonological skills. Some suggested apps include:
- ABC phonics,
- First Words Deluxe,
- Word Magic,
- Reading Magic,
- Starfall ABC,
- Sound Literacy and
- Read, Write and Type (Talking Fingers).
Other apps that help promote reading skills include:
- K12 Timed Reading Practice (an app that addresses reading fluency and comprehension for students in kindergarten right through to grade 4),
- Toy Story read along (app),
- The Three Pandas (app),
- Clicker Books (app),
- Tumble books (online, app),
- Read Me Stories 30 Book Library (app)
Early Identification and Intervention is the Key to a Positive Outcome
If dyslexia is suspected, it is important to consult with a trained professional who is able to evaluate and confirm the presence and the severity of dyslexia.
Having dyslexia does not mean that your future is bleak. Just look at the number of successful people who are dyslexic. John F. Kennedy (president of the United States of America), Steven Spielberg (film director and screen producer) Cher (singer), Jay Leno (comedian, talk show host), Thomas Edison (American inventor and businessman), Ted Turner (American media mogul, founder of CNN), Albert Einstein (physicist), and Alexander Graham Bell (scientist, inventor and engineer) are just some of the famous individuals who struggled with reading.
The key to success is early identification, early intervention and much needed support and accommodations.