What exactly is dyslexia anyway?? Sure, you looked up the definition of dyslexia from the International Dyslexia Association (IDA), but what does it actually mean?
First, just so we’re all on the same page, here is IDA’s definition of dyslexia. But if all that seems like Charlie Brown’s teacher droning on, just skip it and start reading below.
Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.
Adopted by the IDA Board, November 12, 2002.
This definition is also used by the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), 2002.
Let’s break that down:
· Specific learning disability – Dyslexia is one of several specific learning disabilities that affects the ability to understand or use spoken or written language. This can make listening, thinking, speaking, reading, writing, spelling, or math difficult. In the case of dyslexia, the most commonly affected areas are reading and spelling.
· …that is neurological in origin – Dyslexia results from differences in how the brain processes information during reading and spelling.
· Dyslexia is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition – This means that individuals with dyslexia may struggle to read words correctly and/or quickly. A person with dyslexia may sound choppy or hesitant when reading and make many errors.
· …and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. – Words that can be sounded out are called “regular words.” Regular words are words such as cat, rain, napkin, in which the letters make an expected sound. When the letters of a word follow an expected pattern, they are considered decodable. Individuals with dyslexia may struggle to decode or read words, as well as spell words correctly.
· These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language – The phonological component of a language are the sounds that make up a language. Dyslexics may struggle to break words down into small parts such as syllables (napkin = nap + kin) and individual letter sounds (cat = c + a + t). Individuals with dyslexia may also have trouble remembering the sounds of letters, which can make learning to read difficult, as well as learning a second language.
· …that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities – People with dyslexia are very bright. Often dyslexics are very strong in math, science, art, music, and other fields, especially in comparison to their reading skills.
· …and the provision of effective classroom instruction. – People with dyslexia may struggle with reading and spelling, despite receiving good reading instruction. Their struggle comes from dyslexia, not the absence of learning opportunities.· Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge. – Since many individuals with dyslexia find decoding words more difficult, they may have a harder time keeping track of what a reading passage is about. Because of this, dyslexia can affect reading comprehension. In addition, sometimes students with dyslexia dislike reading because they find it more difficult to do. Therefore, individuals with dyslexia (or anyone who avoids reading for that matter) may not develop strong vocabulary skills or have as much exposure to information often learned by reading.