Dyslexia is the most common learning disability.  It is estimated that 10-20% of the population has dyslexia and 80% of people with learning disabilities have dyslexia1.

Brain imaging studies have shown that dyslexia is neurologically based. Different regions of the brain are involved in the reading process – to recognize letters and words, link letters to sounds, distinguish letter sounds (phonemic awareness), read fluently and comprehend text. Subtle differences in the neural pathways of the reading ‘circuit’ in the brain are related to the ease with which different people learn to read.   This is similar to individual differences in musical or map-reading ability and is unrelated to other intellectual abilities.   Brain imaging studies have shown that people with dyslexia have not developed the neural network typical of successful readers.  However, studies have also shown that structured literacy intervention results in the development of a neural network more typical of successful readers.

Dyslexia does run in families.  Parents who have dyslexia are more likely to have children with dyslexia.

Dyslexia occurs in people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and intellectual abilities.  Many people with dyslexia have tremendous strengths in areas such as music, arts, business, sports, engineering and design.  For instance, some studies have found there to be a higher rate of dyslexia in business entrepreneurs.

Dyslexia is a life-long condition that people don’t ‘out-grow’.  However, there is effective instruction that will provide skills and strategies that will help your child succeed at school.  A supportive environment will also help your child build on their strengths and be successful in life.

1American Academy of Pediatrics, 2009. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/124/2/837

Other related language and learning difficulties

In contrast to the word-level decoding difficulties that characterize dyslexia, some children read accurately and fluently but have trouble understanding what they read.  These children have comprehension difficulties that require different interventions than for dyslexia, including such methods as comprehension monitoring, co-operative learning, graphic/semantic organizers, story structure training, visualization, summarization and question answering and generation.

Many dyslexic students have other co-occuring learning issues such as difficulties with poor handwriting (dysgraphia), motor skills (dyspraxia), organization, math (dyscalculia).  Many dyslexic students also have Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) which involves inattentiveness and/or hyperactivity/impulsivity.

It is important to consider these other conditions when selecting and delivering intervention programs.