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Common Myths About Dyslexia

There are many myths about dyslexia that keep children and adults away from education and employment. Understanding the myths about the disorder can reduce and eliminate the barriers that hold back dyslexic people from living full and productive lives.

7 There Is One Type of Dyslexia

There are many types of dyslexia and reasons why the disorders occur. Parents and teachers often look for simple solutions when they confront the possibility that a child may have a learning problem. However, understanding the complex nature of dyslexia and its associated disorders can make it is easier for parents and teachers to give children the help they need for their specific problems. Dyslexia is not one disorder. It comes in many forms, such as primary dyslexia, secondary dyslexia, trauma disorder, butysgraphia, dyspraxia, phonological (auditory) dyslexia, and dyscalculia.

Primary dyslexia is the most common type of dyslexia. This type is hereditary. Primary dyslexia affects the left side of the brain (the cerebral cortex) and does not change with age. Symptoms of primary dyslexia are late talkers, having a hard time learning new words, and difficulties with learning nursery rhymes or rhyming games. School-age children may have difficulties reading at the same level as their peers, difficulties seeing, and often hearing similarities and differences in letters and words, inabilities to sound out unfamiliar words, and problems with spelling.

It is essential for you to consult with your health care provider when you notice delays so he or she can refer you to specialists who work with dyslexic children. Children with primary dyslexia may have other disorders, such as schizophrenia, and immune problems, such as allergies and lupus.

People who are left-handed are more likely to having primary dyslexia. However, left-handedness is, like dyslexia, genetically and environmentally complex. Children and adults who are left-handed should not go through therapy to “get over it,” but be accepted for who they are as individuals. Forcing children to use their right hands does not have scientific backing, has not proven to be effective, and, in many cases, has disrupted the learning process for children.

Another form of dyslexia is secondary or developmental dyslexia caused by problems with brain development during early fetal development. This type of dyslexia diminishes as children mature. Children with developmental dyslexia have a difficult time rhyming words and separating the sounds of spoken words, leading to problems with word recognition and reading skills.

6 Dyslexia Is Always Hereditary

Dyslexia is often considered a hereditary disorder or a disorder of brain structure. However, a rare type of dyslexia is trauma dyslexia. Trauma dyslexia is dyslexia created from injuries to the part of the brain responsible for reading and writing from physical trauma or from a disease. This type is seldom seen in school children. 

5 Boys Have Dyslexia More Than Girls

Student behavior often determines how dyslexia is diagnosed and treated. While girls are affected by dyslexia at the same rate as boys, they may not get the help they need because of the differences in how they cope with the disorder.

The difference is that many boys tend to act out in class while girls with dyslexia tend to be quieter about their difficulties. Girls (or boys) with dyslexia who do not act out are at risk for being passed over or not noticed in the classroom because they don’t send out warning signals with their less aggressive and less discernible behaviors. It is important for parents and teachers to notice girls and boys who are withdrawn in their struggles and to give appropriate concern as well as action to help them thrive academically with their dyslexic disorders.

4 Dyslexia Is Just About Reading and Writing

Dyslexia, contrary to popular beliefs, is not just about trouble with reading and writing. There are different forms of dyslexia, such as dyspraxia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia.

Dyspraxia, for example, is a brain-based condition. Individuals with the disorder struggle with fine motor control, such as tying shoelaces, and the ability to have appropriate voice volume and pitch while speaking. Other problems include gross motor skills, such as walking and skipping, sensitivity to touch when finding clothing, and basic grooming, such as teeth-brushing.

Within the disorder of dyspraxia, there are subsets of ideomotor dyspraxia that make it hard to complete single-step motor tasks, such as waving goodbye. Ideational dyspraxia makes it hard to perform a sequence of tasks, such as making a bed. Oromotor dyspraxia (also called verbal apraxia or apraxia of speech) makes it difficult for individuals to enunciate. Constructional dyspraxia makes it hard to understand spatial relationships, such as building blocks. This disorder does not affect intelligence. Children with dyspraxia often have above average intelligence.

Children who have dysgraphia have writing disabilities. They may make inappropriately spaced or sized words, write incorrect words, or misspell words. Children with dysgraphia usually do not have other social or academic problems. Some symptoms of dysgraphia are trouble with letter spacing, writing letters that are scattered or run together on the page, trouble with writing on a line and inside margins, and copying text slowly. Children with dysgraphia may have trouble holding pencils correctly and having correct writing posture. Spelling and other language processing problems may occur.

Dyscalculia is a form of dyslexia where children have spatial problems and difficulty putting numbers into proper columns. They may read numbers out of sequence and have difficulties with word problems. Keeping track of and understanding time is sometimes difficult for children with dyscalculia. They often have problems with basic arithmetic and calculations. Children with dyscalculia, like children with other forms of dyslexia, are as smart as children without the disorders.

3 Dyslexia Sufferers Cannot Learn to Read

People with dyslexia can learn to read if they get early intervention as children. Identifying children with dyslexia when they are young can give them the added help they need to read. It’s important for parents and teachers to be aware of how children are completing their lessons, so dyslexic conditions are caught early and appropriate intervention can be started.

2 Drugs Can Cure Dyslexia

Dyslexia is not a medical condition that responds to drug therapy. There are no drugs that can correct the underlying brain structures that cause dyslexia. Early detection of the disorder to determine educational needs and appropriate treatment can improve success for people with dyslexia.

Since there is not one type of dyslexia, treatment is specific. Most educational therapy centers on one-on-one instruction with a trained professional. Some therapies, depending on the type of dyslexia, involve the participation of a reading specialist who uses techniques of hearing, vision, and touch to help children process information.

For example, a reading specialist might say the sound of a letter while a child traces the letter shape to make the connection between the letter sound and shape. The therapy goals for dyslexics are often learning to recognize phonemes (the sounds that make up words). Therapy also includes understanding that letters and strings of letters represent the sounds making up words, reading aloud, and vocabulary building.

Therapies, such as with dysgraphia, are assistive. Using a word processor instead of writing, allowing audio and video reports, reducing copying aspects of work, such as providing outlines, and use of wide rule paper and pencil grips are alternatives for children struggling with dysgraphia. The end goal, as for any student, is not the format of education for dyslexic children and adults, but the delivery and comprehension.

1 Children with Dyslexia Aren't Smart 

The most harmful myth for people with dyslexia and its other forms is that they are mentally delayed. Dyslexia and intelligent quotient are not linked and they do not influence one another over time. Many bright people have dyslexia.

It is critical that children who are receiving testing and educational support are honored for their strengths and not diminished in any way for their struggles. Children and adults with dyslexia’s various forms can thrive academically if there is early recognition of their problems without stigma. Success as a dyslexic person depends on parents and teachers who will be the child’s advocate in school and in life.

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