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Myth busting common dyslexia misconceptions

Aug 31, 2021

Dyslexia is a relatively common learning difficulty that causes difficulties processing language. Previously referred to as ‘word blindness’, dyslexia has been a recognised condition for around 100 years. It is a specific learning disability, meaning it causes problems with certain abilities used for learning such as reading and writing. Although most people have a vague idea of dyslexia and how it works, there are many common misunderstandings about it and what it actually means for those who have it. The following is five of the most common myths about dyslexia.

Dyslexia just means seeing words backwards

The most commonly held misconception about dyslexia is that it simply makes you see letters or words backwards, or that it makes them float around the page. Because of this many people assume that it is a visual disorder. Although this is usually the first thing that springs to mind when people think of dyslexia, it is not as much of an integral part of dyslexia as many people assume. Dyslexia is a condition which makes it more challenging for people to break down words and process language. Though they may see it the same as everyone else their brain has a harder time decoding what it all means. Whilst some do sometimes see words jumbled up or letters floating, this is not something that is exclusive to those with dyslexia. Many children flip letters around. Children have to learn that letters, unlike other shapes, have to occupy a specific orientation in space, or the meaning is completely changed.

“It’s a boy thing”

Whilst the ratio of girls and boys who have dyslexia is roughly equal, boys are more often diagnosed in childhood, making many believe that it affects boys more than girls. The misunderstanding comes about because of the fact that studies have shown boys tend to act out in school and become more rambunctious when they are experiencing difficulties. Girls on the other hand, have been found to quietly muddle through problems. This acting out means that problems are more quickly identified by teachers and raised with parents, leading to earlier diagnosis in boys. Girls are often not diagnosed until later in life.

Dyslexics can’t read and will never enjoy it

Most people assume that all people with dyslexia can’t read well and that they will thus never enjoy reading and books. Because of their difficulties in processing language most people with dyslexia struggle to learn to read. However this initial difficulty can be overcome with the employment of a different style of teaching. Often those with dyslexia benefit from tutoring where the teacher can adjust the style of their teaching to suit the child’s individual learning style better, rather than having to cater to an entire class of children.

Only children have dyslexia. You’ll grow out of it

A common misconception is that children grow out of dyslexia. By the time most people have reached adulthood they have developed coping strategies to help them cope with their dyslexia. They no longer have to go through school style standardised tests and so it’s more difficult for outsiders to see the ways in which it affects the person. Despite this, dyslexia will always present them with challenges that others might not face. Dyslexic children grow up to become dyslexic adults.

Dyslexia affects your intelligence

Unlike a learning disability, dyslexia and other specific learning difficulties does not affect a person’s IQ. Rather than having an overall affect on a person’s brain, dyslexia affects only specific skills used for learning and language processing. This means that whilst students may have difficulty in some areas, they can still succeed in others. They also have the ability to overcome difficulties with specialised tutoring and different styles of teaching. They are also often ‘out of the box’ thinkers, and are typically very good problem solvers.

What many people don’t realise is that dyslexia is more complicated than a lot of people think. It affects everyone differently, though with the right style of education people can overcome the difficulties it presents.

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