The International Dyslexia Association defines Dyslexia as a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/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 the growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.
The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development identifies Dyslexia as a brain-based type of learning disability that specifically impairs a person’s ability to read. Individuals with dyslexia typically read at levels significantly lower than expected despite having normal intelligence. Although the disorder varies from person to person, common characteristics among people with dyslexia are difficulty with phonological processing (the manipulation of sounds), spelling, and/or rapid visual-verbal responding. Dyslexia can be inherited in some families, and recent studies have identified a number of genes that may predispose an individual to developing dyslexia.
Dyslexic individuals have inefficient neural circuitry for processing written language (grapheme-phoneme relationships), causing reading, spelling, writing, and the mechanics of math to be tedious and time-consuming. These challenges are caused by underdeveloped phonological processing abilities due to faulty or inadequate neural pathways and connections in the left posterior angular gyrus of the brain. Additionally, poor neural wiring among dyslexics often impacts orthographic awareness, rapid naming (word retrieval), auditory memory span, sequential (or procedural) memory, and the ability to remember arbitrary information such as math facts or the names of states and capitols.
Although no two individuals with dyslexia share identical neural circuitry, dyslexics tend to have similar weaknesses related to weak low-level language processing skills (e.g., rhyming, segmenting sounds, decoding, and spelling). Likewise, individuals with dyslexia often have notable strengths in visual-spatial abilities, fluid reasoning, oral language abilities, and/or quantitative reasoning. When individuals with dyslexia receive effective intervention through an intensive, frequent delivery model coupled with appropriate classroom (or workplace) accommodations, they are able to capitalize on their incredible strengths to be successful in school, college, career, and life.
Effective intervention (also referred to as therapy) for dyslexia requires an intensive Orton-Gillingham based curricula/methodology such as the Wilson Reading System. This structured literacy program is highly effective for students with dyslexia, because its systematic, multi-sensory, diagnostic-prescriptive lessons facilitate the interaction between the right and left hemispheres of the brain (something a language processing challenged brain needs help to accomplish). Activating the left hemisphere during the reading process through simultaneous, multisensory exercises facilitates the embedding of neural models (needed for each word to become automatically decodable) and catalyzes overall reading development.
For more information about the neurocognitive nature of dyslexia, please refer to https://dyslexiaida.org/dyslexia-and-the-brain-fact-sheet/.
For additional information regarding the type of systematic, structured literacy therapy that effectively remediates dyslexia by improving neural connectivity, please refer to https://dyslexiaida.org/effective-reading-instruction/.