Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological 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 growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.”Adopted by the IDA Board of Directors, Nov. 12, 2002. This Definition is also used by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). Many state education codes, including New Jersey, Ohio and Utah, have adopted this definition.

The exact causes of dyslexia are still not completely clear, but anatomical and brain imagery studies show differences in the way the brain of a person with dyslexia develops and functions. Moreover, most people with dyslexia have been found to have difficulty with identifying the separate speech sounds within a word and/or learning how letters represent those sounds, a key factor in their reading difficulties. Dyslexia is not due to either lack of intelligence or desire to learn; with appropriate teaching methods, individuals with dyslexia can learn successfully.


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 reading words and this is related to difficulty with processing and manipulating sounds. Some individuals with dyslexia manage to learn early reading and spelling tasks, especially with excellent instruction, but later experience their most challenging 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 can reach well beyond the classroom.

Dyslexia can also affect a person’s self-image. Students with dyslexia often end up feeling less intelligent and less capable than they actually are. After experiencing a great deal of stress due to academic problems, a student may become discouraged about continuing in school.


Dyslexia is one type of learning disability. Other learning disabilities besides Dyslexia include the following:

Dyscalculia – a mathematical disability in which a person has unusual difficulty solving arithmetic problems and grasping math concepts.

Dysgraphia – a condition of impaired letter writing by hand—disabled handwriting. Impaired handwriting can interfere with learning to spell words in writing and speed of writing text. Children with dysgraphia may have only impaired handwriting, only impaired spelling (without reading problems), or both impaired handwriting and impaired spelling.

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorders (ADHD) can and do impact learning but they are not learning disabilities. An individual can have more than one learning or behavioral disability. In various studies as many as 50% of those diagnosed with a learning or reading disability have also been diagnosed with ADHD. Although disabilities may co-occur, one is not the cause of the other.


15-20% of the population has a language-based learning disability. Of the students with specific learning disabilities receiving special education services, 70-80% have deficits in reading. Dyslexia is the most common cause of reading, writing and spelling difficulties. Dyslexia affects males and females nearly equally as well as, people from different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds nearly equally.


Yes. If children who have dyslexia receive effective phonological awareness and phonics 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, many because they do not receive appropriate Structured Literacy instruction with the needed intensity or duration. 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 Structured Literacy instructional techniques can help children and adults learn to read.


There is no cure for dyslexia, but dyslexic individuals can learn to read and write with appropriate education or treatment.

We recommend finding an Orton-Gillingham, language-based instructional program that is multisensory, structured, sequential, and cumulative.

Request accommodations in school, including:

  • Extended time on tests and homework
  • Word Banks (Word banks provide the support learners with dyslexia need with new or difficult words, reducing the learning curve often associated with introducing new vocabulary)
  • Have tests and homework assignments read aloud
  • Option of delivering oral reports, instead of written
  • Leniency on grading grammar and spelling errors

We’re here to help you get started. Call the Dyslexia Awareness Network at 309-679-0788 with any questions.

Absolutely! People with dyslexia often have one or more of the following strengths:

  • Very good at and find enjoyment in solving puzzles, which could be helpful in doing work as an administrator or in mechanics / engineering
  • Talented at building models, which can be applied to becoming an architect or engineer
  • May excel in art, music, or athletics, which are traits of many actors, musicians and athelets
  • Often have great imaginations, like inventers, entrepreneurs and authors
  • The ability to figure things out, which doctors and lawyers do everyday
  • Excellent comprehension of stories read or told to them, which are very similar to journalists and radio announcers


Some famous, successful people with dyslexia include:
* Pablo Picaso * Thomas Edison * Albert Einstein * Leonardo da Vinci
* Erin Brockovich * Anderson Cooper * Tim Tebow * Jay Leno * Charles Schwab (…just to name a few!)

Trained psychologists, neuropsychologists.

Dyslexia checklists can help in the initial inquiry, but a thorough educational evaluation is needed to determine a child’s learning ability or disability.

School evaluations done for IEP’s are an option that the center accepts as long as there is some kind of intelligence testing included.

The evaluation typically includes the following:

  • Intellectual and academic achievement testing
  • Receptive (listening) and expressive language skills
  • Phonological skills; phonemic awareness
  • Rapid naming of letters and numbers
  • Read lists of words in isolation and in context

Call the Dyslexia Awareness Network at 309-679-0788 with any questions.