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Dyslexia: Science and Intervention

Early Signs of Possible Dyslexia:

  • Children between 3 and 5 years may be uninterested or unable to play language games (e.g., rhyming, nursery rhymes), may have articulation difficulties, and may have difficulty learning/recognizing letters, numbers, days of the week, etc.
  • Children between 5 and 6 years may have difficulty writing, verbally breaking words into parts, rhyming, and connecting letters and sounds.
  • Children over 6 years may have difficulty reading more than one-syllable words, may fail to recognize subtle differences (e.g., two, to, too), may confuse words that sound alike (e.g., lotion, ocean), may skip parts of words, may have messy hand-writing, and may have fear of school and self-esteem issues.

Dyslexia: Truth and Myth

Myth:   Dyslexia is the reversing of letters.

Truth:   Most children sometimes reverse letters, but Dyslexia involves frequent and more subtle and complex errors.

Myth:   Dyslexia is identified easily and early.

Truth:   Most children with Dyslexia are diagnosed between ages 11 and 17 years of age.

Myth:   Dyslexia is relatively rare.

Truth:   There are about 3 million children with Dyslexia, and some estimates are as high as 1 in 5 school children.

People You Know With Dyslexia:

People with Dyslexia are over-represented in the top of science and business professions (and also over-represented in the criminal population!).  But the good news is that people with dyslexia can be very accomplished.  For example, Thomas Edison (began speaking at age 4), Tom Cruise (was described as a “functional literate”), Jay Leno (had numerous C’s, D’s, and F’s in school), Agatha Christie (wrote over 100 books), Walt Disney, Whoopie Goldberg, Cher, Jewel, Salma Hayek, and Tommy Hilfiger.

Dyslexia: “Evolution Revolution”

The spoken word has existed for 50,000 to 100,000 years, while the written word is no more than 5,000 years old.  Some scientists believe that certain brain regions involved in reading have not had enough time to evolve.

“What’s going on in there?”

Functional MRI’s find that early readers use the Left Inferior Frontal Gyrus and the Left Parieto-temporal areas to break down and analyze words, but as skills improve the Left Occipital-Temporal region takes over and processes entire words more automatically.  People with Dyslexia have neurological difficulties accessing these brain regions, and then try to compensate by relying on right lobe regions and/or visual cues.


The International Dyslexia Association can be reached at 1-800-ABC–D123.