What is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia is the most common learning disability. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 15% of the population has dyslexia. Individuals with this medical condition have difficulty in the areas of language. Dyslexic children and adults struggle to read fluently, spell words correctly and learn a second language, among other challenges. Dyslexia is a difficulty in reading in an individual who has the intelligence to be a much better reader. While people with dyslexia are slow readers, they often are very fast and creative thinkers with strong reasoning abilities.
young man at computer
What Causes Dyslexia?
Dyslexia is not a disease, it's a condition a person is born with, and it often runs in families. You're more likely to have dyslexia if your parents, siblings, or other family members have it. Most people with dyslexia have average or above-average intelligence, and they work very hard to overcome their learning problems.
What Happens in Dyslexia?

Dyslexia does not reflect an overall defect in language, but a localized weakness within the phonologic module of the brain (where sounds of language are put together to form words or break words down into sounds). It’s a struggle to make the connection between the sound and the letter symbol for that sound, and to blend sounds into words.
Dyslexia is a language processing disorder, so it can affect all forms of language, spoken or written. This makes it hard to recognize short, familiar words or to sound out longer words. Because reading takes more time and focus, the meaning of the word often is lost, and reading comprehension is poor.
Some people have milder forms of dyslexia, so they may have less trouble in other areas of spoken and written language. Dyslexia isn't something that goes away on its own or that a person outgrows. Fortunately, with proper help, most people with dyslexia learn to read. They often find different ways to learn and use those strategies all their lives.

Signs of dyslexia can vary depending on a person’s age but common symptoms include:

Preschool age children:Young boy with tablet
  • Difficulty learning and remembering the letters in the alphabet
  • Unable to recognize letters in his/her own name
  • Mispronounces familiar words
  • Problems forming words correctly, such as reversing sounds in words or confusing words that sound alike 

School age children:
  • Trouble learning the connection between letters and sounds
  • Confuses small words such as "at" and "to," or "does" and "goes"
  • Makes consistent reading and spelling errors
  • Reads at a lower grade level than expected
  • Exhibits poor handwriting skills
  • Difficulty spelling
  • Inability to sound out the pronunciation of an unfamiliar word 

Teens and adults:
  • Spells poorly or relies on others to spell for them
  • Relies on memory rather than reading information
  • Avoids writing or unable to write legibly at all
  • Avoiding activities that involve reading
  • Difficulty memorizing Two young girls outside reading

While these are common symptoms, formal testing is required to confirm a diagnosis. There is no cure for dyslexia but certified speech-language pathologists (SLPs) work together with parents, caregivers and educators to incorporate techniques that help people overcome difficulties associated with the disability.

Speech-language therapy aims to target the problem areas of reading and writing. People with dyslexia struggle with phonological skills and have trouble understanding specific sounds to put together to form words. At the Speech-Language Institute (SLI), trained SLPs are equipped to assess a patient’s reading, language and writing skills, create an individualized treatment plan and incorporate specialized therapy sessions in order to improve overall reading and communication.

For more information on SLI’s services or to schedule an appointment, please call 215.780.3150.