Quick Facts about Dyslexia
What is dyslexia? Probably not what you think
Typically people think that dyslexia has something to do with seeing letters or words written backward, upside down, moving around or off the page. In fact most dyslexics don't see words any differently than an efficient reader might. Yes they are more prone to mix their 'b' and 'p' or read the word 'top' when in fact the word 'pot' appears on the page, but they aren't flipping the letters or word so much as they just have trouble identifying and retrieving them from memory.
In exceptional cases, some dyslexics may see words moving around or other visual distortions, but this isn't the norm.
The National (US) Center for Learning Disabilities: Defining Dyslexia
Phonological awareness refers to the ability to identify and manipulate the sounds of language. It includes the ability to distinguish sounds, count syllables and identify rhymes. For example: which sound do you hear at the start of the words food and find? Or, how many syllables are there in the word caterpillar? Or, which of the following words does not rhyme: log, dog, bog, car?
Phonological awareness refers only to speech sounds, so technically you could do it without knowledge of the alphabet. In fact you could have excellent phonological awareness without having ever seen a printed letter!
Remarkably, there is an entire website dedicated to the concept of phonological awareness. It's a helpful source of phonological awareness activities for young readers.
Phonemic Awareness, is a subset of phonological awareness, meaning that it is also about the ability to identify and manipulate sounds. But in this case, it is more specific, referring to the ability to identify and manipulate the smallest sound units of a language. Like phonological awareness, phonemic awareness is possible without knowledge of the alphabet or written words, but in practice phonemes are usually taught using a combination of spoken and written text (including using tiled letters).
A phoneme is the smallest unit of speech sound that can convey a unique meaning. In English there are 44 unique sounds or phonemes. These are the critical building blocks of language that dyslexics have a lot of difficulty manipulating when it comes time to read or write and even speak.
We surveyed the
definition of dyslexia offered by every dyslexia, health, learning and
reference institution that we could find . We found some helpful elements
that add to our definition, but also a number of very bad definitions
that ranged from
motherhood statements to advocacy.
Below is a summary of the best of our findings.
What is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia IS NOT...
Those with dyslexia also often struggle with ADHD, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, and dyspraxia. At first these sister challenges seem like unrelated, cruel coincidences but a closer look reveals some common underlying causes: difficulty sustaining focused attention (both hyper or inattentive types), problems with short term and working memory and slower or less efficient cognitive processing—all of which are often exacerbated by anxiety.
With patience, encouragement and determination each challenge can be met, but collectively they represent a heavy burden for any child trying to succeed in a modern school system and eventually, in the information economy. In turn this puts additional responsibility on parents and teachers to rise to the challenge of equipping these students with the skills, abilities and self confidence necessary to succeed. The purpose of this site is to help in that task.
Although an understanding of dyslexia is complicated by its linkages to related challenges in attention, anxiety, writing, motor coordination and mathematics, at it's heart, dyslexia is simply difficulty reading.
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