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Dyslexia: What It Is and What It Isn't

09-29-2016

As we send our children back to school this fall, many of them look forward to reading books and other materials in their classes. Reading, of course, is fundamental to success at school, as well as later in life. Some parents know their child is struggling to read with fluency and comprehension, particularly if a teacher has indicated the child’s reading ability is below grade level.

With a clinical evaluation, some struggling readers may be diagnosed with Dyslexia, a specific learning disorder that impairs reading ability. Briefly, here is what Dyslexia is not and what it actually is.

Dyslexia:

  • is not a generic term for any given “learning disability”
  • is not reversing numbers and letters in one’s writing, or seeing numbers or letters backwards or in the wrong order
  • is not an indication of a child being unintelligent
  • is not an indication that a child is a lazy reader, or not trying hard enough to learn to read
  • is not a problem related to deficient functioning of one or the other side of the brain
  • is not a problem primarily of vision, affecting tracking words on the page or using both eyes together (convergence, binocular vision) to see letters and words accurately
  • is not caused by vaccines/immunizations
  • is not something a child will simply “grow out of” with time or simply with “more reading” time at school or home
  • is not successfully treated by prism glasses, by colored laminated paper placed on the book, by medicines or herbal remedies, or by the so-called “Davis Method” of dyslexia treatment

Dyslexia:

  • is a learning disorder involving reading (not writing or mathematics skills)
  • is a disorder of reading for the child’s age and grade level that may be manifested through impaired reading comprehension, reading speed and accuracy, and most importantly and commonly, awareness of phonics (the sounds letters make, and the ability to blend such sounds together to sound out new words)
  • is unrelated to intelligence; in fact, by definition most dyslexic individuals have an average, unimpaired IQ
  • is a brain disorder that commonly co-occurs in children with ADHD/ADD (in fact, about 30-40% of the time)
  • is quite diagnosable through IQ testing and academic achievement testing for reading skills; it is most competently diagnosed by a licensed healthcare provider with relevant training and expertise, such as a clinical neuropsychologist
  • is a disorder that can be improved through interventions to enhance fundamental phonics awareness and reading fluency
  • is a recognized disability of a student that requires special education interventions and accommodations in the public school district (possibly through an Individualized Education Plan), per the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

For parents of students who suspect their child may have Dyslexia, a formal clinical neuropsychological evaluation by neuropsychologists Dr. Jeffrey Cory or Dr. Lee Perry can be an essential step in helping a child age 6 and older improve their reading skills and become a more confident student. A referral from a health care provider, such as a pediatrician, can be helpful, especially with respect to possible insurance coverage for this evaluation.

Neuropsychological evaluation includes a verbal interview and pencil/paper/computerized testing of thinking abilities and academic skills, including reading skills. It does not include “invasive” procedures such as shots, blood tests, or blood tests, and does not include brain scanning procedures.
Categories: Simply Healthy