Dyslexia Statistics and Myth Busting Facts

Dyslexia statistics and facts can be eye opening, sobering, fascinating and inspiring all at once:


  • The first description of dyslexia appeared in 1896 , authored by Dr. W. Pringle Morgan in Sussex, England
  • The word dyslexia is derived from the Greek word ‘dys’ (meaning difficult) plus ‘lexis’ (words or language)
  • Originally dyslexia was called reading blindness
  • Today we know that dyslexia is a brain based, hereditary difficulty manipulating the sounds and letters of language

Word Wonders

  • Phonemes are the smallest units of speech sound that can convey a unique meaning - dyslexics have trouble distinguishing and manipulating them
  • The defining characteristic of most dyslexics is difficulty with phonemic awareness
  • The ability to distinguish and manipulate phonemes in young readers is the strongest single predictor of future reading ability
  • English has 44 unique sounds, French 34 and German 46
  • Dyslexics read better with certain fonts, writing styles and media
  • With training, it is possible to listen to audio books played back at four times the normal rate of speed—with full comprehension!

Dyslexia Statistics / Demographics

  • Approximately 15% of people have dyslexia
  • This equates to over 30 million adults in the United States, about 6 million in the United Kingdom and 3 million in Canada. Most don't know they are dyslexic!
  • Dyslexia occurs in people of all backgrounds
  • Dyslexia is found in speakers of every language and country, but rates vary
  • Men and women are equally likely to have dyslexia
  • Of those placed in special education for a learning disability, around 80% have dyslexia
  • Somewhere between 25-40% of children with dyslexia also have ADHD and conversely, approximately 25% of children with ADHD also have dyslexia

Myth Busters

Dyslexia is many things but it is NOT:

  • A gift
  • Contagious
  • Being confused 
  • About getting letters or numbers mixed up or out of order
  • Being lazy, stupid or unmotivated
  • Caused by bad parenting and other environmental influences
  • Found only in children
  • Something people grow out of
  • Found only in English readers and speakers

Strange but True

  • Inability to tie shoe laces, difficulty reading a clock with hands and early childhood ear infections are all reliable predictors of dyslexia
  • People with dyslexia have terrible trouble rhyming and therefore very few turn to careers in hip hop
  • Dyslexia is mainly an auditory processing problem but has visual elements
  • Adult onset of dyslexia is possible after a stroke or because of Alzheimer's disease
  • An 80 year old reading system is still among the best
  • The best way for those with dyslexia to read may be with their ears!

Hope and Inspiration

  • With appropriate teaching methods and motivation, people with dyslexia can successfully learn anything
  • Assistive technology is opening all all kinds of doors to literacy and learning. Audio books and text to speech applications are two of the most important accessibility tools
  • Those with dyslexia often excel at connecting ideas, thinking out of the box, 3D mapping, and seeing the "big picture". These are more likely compensatory skills rather than natural gifts or savant like abilities. 
  • People with dyslexia often find success in the fields of art, computer science, design, drama, electronics, math, mechanics, music, physics, sales and sports
  • Dyslexics use their right brain more than average, which is associated with art, emotion, spatial relationships, intuition and synthesizing of ideas—partially explaining their strengths in these areas 
  • There are over 100 private schools for dyslexic students in the United States, 25 in the UK and 6 in Canada

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