What is Dyslexia?

“The differences are personal,

The diagnosis is clinical.

The treatment is educational,

The understanding is scientific.”

– Margaret Byrd Rawson and Roger Saunders (1998)


The term “dyslexia” comes from the Greek words “dys,” meaning difficulty, and “lex,” meaning speak. In its simplest form, dyslexia can be defined as difficulty with words or languages. While this helps to describe what all dyslexic individuals have in common, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

Dyslexia is a term that refers to a range of variable ability for language acquisition. It is not a disease, defect, or abnormality. Instead, it can be seen as a variation in the way that a person learns language skills. Dyslexia is a handicapping condition in our modern world, where mastery of written language is expected and necessary for success and advancement.

Although dyslexia is a neurological-based learning disorder, the treatment is educational. This means that no child or adult should fail because of dyslexia. Early intervention is important, as it can reduce the amount of catching up that may be necessary.

So, what is the nature of a dyslexic learner?

How do we recognize and identify dyslexic individuals?

Dyslexic learners tend to think and learn differently, have normal sensory acuity (both visual and auditory), and are typically average or above average in intelligence. They may struggle with acquiring reading and spelling skills through traditional school methods.

If you or someone you know exhibits these characteristics, it may be worth seeking out a formal evaluation from a qualified professional. With the right support and accommodations, dyslexia need not be a hindrance to success. People with dyslexia can overcome their challenges and lead successful lives.

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