Dr. V.S. Gayathri
Top Ten Myths About Dyslexia
There is a lot of misconceptions around Dyslexia and dyslexic people among us. We tend to confuse it as a disease and create our own prejudices. But, as rightly said by someone, “Dyslexia is not a disease to have and to be cured of but a way of thinking and learning.”
Dyslexia is considered the most commonly seen learning disability, with around 7% of the global human population currently affected by it. However, we can potentially take it as around 20%, as many people might have variations of the disorder but do not realize it, mistaking it as mere habits or unique traits.
During the event, The New Indian Express' ThinkEdu Conclave 2020, the founder of the Madras Dyslexia Association (MDA), D Chandrashekhar mentioned that there is a lack of research on the implications of conditions like dyslexia, its identification, and hence the appropriate treatment in India. In Tamil Nadu itself, around two million children have been diagnosed with the condition.
It has been seen that around 15% of the school-going children in India are recorded as being dyslexic. Children who are affected by the dysfunction have an above-average IQ of at least 115.
He had rightly pointed out that “dyslexia is not simply a mental health problem, it is a social problem. Young children with dyslexia and adults who grew up with it spoke about the stigma they faced from their teachers and classmates due to the condition.” He concluded that as a society we need to first understand dyslexia rather than creating our own beliefs and distancing people, who actually need help.
Let’s take a look at the top 10 myths about dyslexia and the related myth-busters.
Myth 1: Dyslexia is a vision problem
Fact: Vision and dyslexia are not related as well. Rather, it is a language-based learning difference characterized by difficulty processing the phonological component of words and is completely unrelated to issues with eyesight, though the conditions can co-occur. Having a vision problem can hamper reading and comprehension, but it is not related to dyslexia.
Myth 2: Dyslexia is uncommon
Fact: It has been found that dyslexia is one of the most researched and documented conditions that impact children. The growing occurrences in kids is proof enough that it is not a rare phenomenon. It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia. It can occur in people of all backgrounds and intellectual levels.
Myth 3: Reading and writing letters backward is the main problem in dyslexia
Fact: Some kids might face this problem but not all. And there are other important symptoms of dyslexia as well. Rather, children with dyslexia face problems with phonological processing or connecting speech sounds. This language processing deficit results in difficulty in reading and writing.
Myth 4: Dyslexia does not show up till elementary school
Fact: The early signs of dyslexia are quite prominent from preschool. We can identify children at risk of learning difficulty right from the preschool level itself. At most times, the diagnosis of SpLD cannot be conclusively made until the child is in the third grade, or about eight to nine years old. However, we need not wait till that time, instead the earlier the intervention, the lesser will be the learning gap or children.
Myth 5: Dyslexia will go away eventually
Fact: Dyslexia is not a disease that needs to be cured. Rather it is a learning gap difference that if not taken care of at the right time can aggravate to a bigger problem. Research shows that the brain can actually be rewired to process the same way as ‘good readers’ if they are taught with systematic and sequential phonics taught in a multi-sensory way.
Myth 6: Dyslexia will go away if they read harder at home
Fact: Since dyslexia can be associated with brain functions, we see that dyslexic kids behave differently. It also shows that reading can actually change the brain over time. However, it is not about how much effort the kid puts, rather the type of instruction that the kid receives. With good instruction and practice, dyslexic kids can improve a lot in reading because it is not due to any fault in them, rather they learn in a different way than others.
Myth 7: Kids who do not speak English can’t have dyslexia.
Fact: Language doesn’t have any role to play in dyslexia. Anyone, anywhere can have this condition. Often teachers and parents mistake this when these kids are struggling because they are learning a new language. You will find several famous examples of people with dyslexia from all over the globe beyond any language they read and speak.
Myth 8: Kids with below-average intelligence are dyslexic.
Fact: It has been found that people with dyslexia excel or even gifted in areas of art, computer science, design, drama, electronics, Maths, mechanics, music, physics, sales, and sports. Dyslexia is not related to low IQ, rather dyslexic people have higher than average intelligence. For example, Einstein was dyslexic and had an estimated IQ of 160. With early identification and intervention, the effects of dyslexia can be mitigated well in time, and dyslexic kids can excel academically like their other friends.
Myth 9: It happens if the child is not reading enough at home.
Fact: We all understand that reading is very important for kids right from an early age. But dyslexia doesn’t happen due to the lack of exposure to reading. Often parents are blamed that they are not spending much time with their child, and hence the lack of attention might have turned them into dyslexic. But, this is not the case at all because dyslexia is a neurological condition.
Myth 10: Dyslexia can be helped with medication
Fact: There is no pill or medication to heal dyslexia because it cannot be categorized as a medical problem. If you notice early signs of dyslexia in your child, you need to consult an expert who deals with such conditions in kids.