Scientists know more than ever about dyslexia. But there are still a lot of misconceptions about this common learning difference. That can make it hard to know what’s accurate and how to best support your child.
Here’s the truth behind seven myths about dyslexia.
Myth #1: Reading and writing letters backwards is the main sign of dyslexia.
Fact: Some kids with dyslexia write letters backwards and some don’t. So, letter reversal isn’t necessarily a sign that your child has dyslexia.
Myth #2: Dyslexia doesn’t show up until elementary school.
Fact: Signs of dyslexia can show up in preschool, or even earlier. That’s because dyslexia can affect language skills that are essential skills for reading. Some signs that a preschooler may be at risk for dyslexia include difficulty rhyming and being a “late talker.”
Myth #3: Kids with dyslexia just need to try harder to read.
Fact: Research shows that the brain functions differently in kids with dyslexia. It also shows that reading can actually change the brain over time. But effort has nothing to do with it. It’s the type of instruction that makes a difference, not how hard kids try. With good instruction and practice, kids with dyslexia can make lasting gains in reading.
There are a number of reading programs designed for struggling readers. Many use what’s called a multisensory approach. This type of instruction uses sight, sound, and touch as pathways to learning.
Myth #4: Dyslexia goes away once kids learn to read.
Fact: Intervention makes a big difference in helping kids with dyslexia learn to read. But being able to read doesn’t mean they’re “cured.” Dyslexia is a lifelong learning difference that can affect more than just basic reading skills.
On top of making it hard to , dyslexia can make it difficult to read fluently. It can impact how well kids comprehend what they’ve read. Kids with dyslexia may also continue to struggle with spelling and writing even once they’ve learned to read.
Myth #5: Dyslexia is a vision problem.
Fact: Vision problems don’t cause dyslexia. Kids with dyslexia are no more likely to have eye and vision problems than other kids.
It’s true that some may have problems with visual perception, or visual processing. That means the brain has trouble recognizing details in images and processing what the eyes are seeing. Those challenges can make reading difficult. But they’re not a part of dyslexia.
Myth #6: Dyslexia only happens in the English language.
Fact: Dyslexia exists all over the world and in all languages. But it often takes longer to pick up on reading issues in kids who are multilingual than in their peers. That may be due to teachers and parents thinking these kids are struggling because they’re learning a new language.
However, if kids have trouble reading in their first language and their second language, it’s a good indication that they need to be evaluated. Watch as an expert talks about dyslexia in different languages.
Myth #7: Dyslexia is caused by not reading enough at home.
Fact: Reading at home and being exposed to reading is important for all kids. But dyslexia doesn’t happen because of a lack of exposure. It’s a neurological condition. People who don’t know your family may wrongly assume you’re not doing enough reading with your child. You may need to explain that dyslexia is caused by differences in how the brain functions.
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About the author
About the author
Amanda Morin is the director of thought leadership at Understood and author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.” She worked as a classroom teacher and early intervention specialist for more than a decade.
Bob Cunningham, EdM serves as executive director of learning development at Understood.