Addressing The Misconceptions of Dyslexia

A lot of people have misconceptions about what Dyslexia is like seeing things backwards. A lot of people don’t know that in most cases,Dyslexia involves phonological,auditory processing problems. Also a lot of people aren’t aware that speech problems are symptoms of Dyslexia and that many have had a history of speech therapy in special education. A lot of people think that all students in special education have mental retardation. They don’t know that a lot of children in special education classes aren’t retarded even though they refer to special education class as “the retard class” and refer to all special education students as “retards”. They don’t seem to understand that a lot of Dyslexics benefit from early intervention special education,and so they can learn to read,write,and spell well. A lot of people think that speech problems indicate low intelligence. For instance, I read a lot about how President Bush has problems with speech,and so they say that indicates how stupid he is. They don’t stop to consider that there are many intelligent people that do have history of speech problems.

The following is from International Dyslexia Association. I am a sustaining member of this organization,and that’s part of my advocacy. It is the oldest and largest Dyslexic organization.

What is dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability. Dyslexia refers to a cluster of symptoms, which result in people having difficulties with specific language skills, particularly reading. Students with dyslexia usually experience difficulties with other language skills such as spelling, writing, and pronouncing words. Dyslexia affects individuals throughout their lives; however, its impact can change at different stages in a person’s life. It is referred to as a learning disability because dyslexia can make it very difficult for a student to succeed academically in the typical instructional environment, and in its more severe forms, will qualify a student for special education, special accommodations, or extra support services.

(as you see, the severe Dyslexics qualify for special education…so you see,there are severe Dyslexics in special education classes. I was one of them. Not everybody in special education classes are retarded. …Therefore, special education classes should not be referred to as “the retard class” nor should special eduation students be referred to as “retards”)

What are the effects of dyslexia?
The impact that dyslexia has is different for each person and depends on the severity of the condition and the effectiveness of instruction or remediation. The core difficulty is with word recognition and reading fluency, spelling, and writing. Some dyslexics manage to learn early reading and spelling tasks, especially with excellent instruction, but later experience their most debilitating problems when more complex language skills are required, such as grammar, understanding textbook material, and writing essays.

People with dyslexia can also have problems with spoken language, even after they have been exposed to good language models in their homes and good language instruction in school. They may find it difficult to express themselves clearly, or to fully comprehend what others mean when they speak. Such language problems are often difficult to recognize, but they can lead to major problems in school, in the workplace, and in relating to other people. The effects of dyslexia reach well beyond the classroom.

What are the signs of dyslexia?
The problems displayed by individuals with dyslexia involve difficulties in acquiring and using written
language. It is a myth that dyslexic individuals “read backwards,” although spelling can look quite
jumbled at times because students have trouble remembering letter symbols for sounds and forming
memories for words. Other problems experienced by dyslexics include the following:

Learning to speak
Learning letters and their sounds
Organizing written and spoken language
Memorizing number facts
Reading quickly enough to comprehend
Persisting with and comprehending longer reading assignments
Learning a foreign language
Correctly doing math operations

(A lot of people think Dyslexia is seeing words backwards,but it’s actually a myth…you can see that Dyslexics can have problems with speech, and so speech problems aren’t necessarily mental retardation)


The word dyslexia comes from the Greek language and means poor language. Individuals with dyslexia have trouble with reading, writing, spelling and/or math although they have the ability and have had opportunities to learn. Individuals with dyslexia can learn; they just learn in a different way. Often these individuals, who have talented and productive minds, are said to have a language learning difference.

Does My Child Have Dyslexia?

Individuals with dyslexia usually have some of the following characteristics.

Difficulty with oral language
Late in learning to talk
Difficulty pronouncing words
Difficulty acquiring vocabulary or using age appropriate grammar
Difficulty following directions
Confusion with before/after, right/left, and so on
Difficulty learning the alphabet, nursery rhymes, or songs
Difficulty understanding concepts and relationships
Difficulty with word retrieval or naming problems

Difficulty with reading
Difficulty learning to read
Difficulty identifying or generating rhyming words, or counting syllables in words (Phonological Awareness)
Difficulty with hearing and manipulating sounds in words (Phonemic Awareness)
Difficulty distinguishing different sounds in words (Auditory Discrimination)

Difficulty in learning the sounds of letters
Difficulty remembering names and/or shapes of letters
Reverses letters or the order of letters when reading
Misreads or omits common small words
“Stumbles” through longer words
Poor reading comprehension during oral or silent reading
Slow, laborious oral reading

Difficulty with written language
Difficulty putting ideas on paper
Many spelling mistakes
May do well on weekly spelling tests, but there are many spelling mistakes in daily work
Difficulty in proofreading

(As you can see speech,auditory processing,phonological processing issues are included in the symptoms of Dyslexia…so a lot of Dyslexics don’t have visual processing issues. Speech problems aren’t necessarily mental retardation even though a lot of people think speech problems mean little intelligence…reading is not just a visual task,it is also a phonological,auditory task…you have to know how words sound and how to sound them out and not just know how words look like)

: Can Individuals Who Are Dyslexic Learn To Read?
A: Yes.
If children who are dyslexic get effective phonological training in Kindergarten and 1st grade, they will have significantly fewer problems in learning to read at grade level than do children who are not identified or helped until 3rd grade.
74% of the children who are poor readers in 3rd grade remain poor readers in the 9th grade. Often they can’t read well as adults either.
It is never too late for individuals with dyslexia to learn to read, process and express information more efficiently. Research shows that programs utilizing multisensory structured language techniques can help children and adults learn to read.

How is dyslexia treated?
Dyslexia is a life-long condition. With proper help, many people with dyslexia can learn to read and write
well. Early identification and treatment is the key to helping dyslexics achieve in school and in life. Most
people with dyslexia need help from a teacher, tutor, or therapist specially trained in using a multisensory,
structured language approach. It is important for these individuals to be taught by a systematic and
explicit method that involves several senses (hearing, seeing, touching) at the same time. Many
individuals with dyslexia need one-on-one help so that they can move forward at their own pace. In
addition, students with dyslexia often need a great deal of structured practice and immediate, corrective
feedback to develop automatic word recognition skills. For students with dyslexia, it is helpful if their
outside academic therapists work closely with classroom teachers.

(As you see, early intervention therapy can help many Dyslexics learn to read and write well…Early identification and treatment helps a Dyslexic achieve in school and in life…I can’t stress enough the importance of early intervention. I can’t stress enough that many Dyslexics do learn to read and write well. A lot of them do that through special education. The problem is that too many people think special education is for the mentally retarded, and so they can’t comprehend the idea of early intervention helps many Dyslexics as result of getting special education therapies)

How widespread is dyslexia?
About 13-14% of the school population nationwide has a handicapping condition that qualifies them for
special education. Current studies indicate that one-half of all the students who qualify for special
education are classified as having a learning disability (LD) (6-7%). About 85% of those LD students
have a primary learning disability in reading and language processing.

Q: How Common Are Language-Based Learning Disabilities?
A: 15-20% of the population have a language-based learning disability.
Of the students with specific learning disabilities receiving special education services, 70-80% have deficits in reading.

(As you see,half of the children in special education aren’t even retarded. They have a learning disability. Most of those learning disabled have primary learning disability in reading and language processing. Therefore, special education is not only for the mentally retarded children but children with learning disabilities. Special Education class should not be referred to as “the retard class” and special education students should not be referred to as “retards” )

I hope that after reading this, you will understand what Dyslexics are like. You will know that many Dyslexics have auditory,phonological,speech processing problems like me. You will know that not every person in special education is retarded and that half of the special ed students aren’t retarded but learning disabled like me. You will know that majority of those learning disabled are Dyslexic like me. You will know that it is the severe Dyslexics who qualify for special education like me. You will stop thinking that Dyslexics see words backwards and stop thinking of people who have history of special education and speech therapy as retarded which happened to me.

I feel that I have to use my experiences of what it was like growing up Dyslexic,and help people raise awareness of Dyslexia and what it actually entails and help get rid of myths of Dyslexia that actually end up hurting Dyslexic. It leads to confusion,misunderstandings,negative labels,misdiagnoses which often leads to insecurity and low self esteem which can progress into anxiety and depression.

I have this dream that all people will understand Dyslexia. I have a dream that all Dyslexics will understand themselves and never believe that they are stupid and that they will believe in themselves which can lead to great success. I have a dream that special education will no longer be referred to as the “retard class.” I have a dream that special education students will no longer be referred to as “retards” I have a dream that all Dyslexics will get identified,get the treatment that they need,and learn to read and write well. I have a dream that all Dyslexics will not be discriminated against but treated as equals. I have a dream that all Dyslexics not be misdiagnosed. I have a dream that all Dyslexics will use their strengths,talents,gifts to make their lives and other lives better. This dream is not just for Dyslexics,but all neurodivergents.

Raymond Andrews