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Dispelling Myths About Dyslexia

Updated: Sep 9, 2022

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October is dyslexia awareness month. It's not "Specific Learning disability in reading and spelling month," just for the record. But, it is essential to raise awareness and understanding that we all #SayDyslexia.

How often have you run into someone, maybe another parent or teacher, who does not get what dyslexia is? Have you heard, "Oh, that is when you see things backward, right?" or "I used to have that, but then I grew out of it." It is estimated that one out of five students may have dyslexia. That means if you are a teacher with a class of 25 students, five may have difficulty with reading, writing, and spelling caused by a learning disability. Over a twenty-year career, that could mean that your understanding, or lack thereof, of dyslexia could affect 100 children out of the 500 you teach. This is why it is so vital that everyone knows the truth about dyslexia.

There doesn't seem to be much understanding, even in the schools (some might say especially in the schools), about what dyslexia really is. They lack knowledge about how, beyond reading and writing, that dyslexia affects our kids and what is needed to help these students thrive and learn. I often hear teachers and even reading specialists declare, "but they did not teach us any of this in my teaching program in college!" So let's address some of the most persistent and common myths about kids with dyslexia.

Dyslexia Myth #1: "Kids with dyslexia are lazy."

No. People with dyslexia are not lazy. They have a learning difference that is neurologically based and interferes with processing written material. They often excel in other academic skills and are usually very bright and creative. When parents and teachers buy into the idea that their child is lazy or not trying, they can severely damage the child's self-esteem. Kids with dyslexia work tirelessly to accomplish what takes other kids a fraction of the time. They push and work until they cannot anymore. Children want to make you proud. They may act out due to frustration. They may refuse to do work because they know it will be incredibly difficult for them.

Imagine if, every day you went to work, your boss handed you a piece of paper on which every single word was scrambled. Then, every day in a meeting, he asked you to read this paper in front of your coworkers, who, for some reason, could all read the scrambled words perfectly. You start to think: maybe there is something wrong with me. Why can't I read this if everyone else can? No matter how hard you try, you cannot make sense of the words on the page. Maybe after a few tedious hours, you managed to unscramble a paragraph, but it was so hard. And it took so long to read each word that you had no idea what the sentences said. How would you feel about work? How would you feel about yourself? You know deep down that you are an intelligent, competent person with lots of excellent skills, but you just cannot read this paper!