5 Common Myths About Dyslexia

By Emily Lapkin

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Scientists know more than ever about the causes and effects of dyslexia. But a few myths persist. The next time a teacher, friend or family member offers outdated information about this reading issue, share these facts.

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Myth #1: It’s a boy thing.

Fact: Boys with dyslexia are more frequently identified in schools. But dyslexia affects both genders in nearly equal numbers. So what explains the difference in schools? Researchers found that girls tend to quietly muddle through challenges while boys become more rambunctious. Boys’ behavioral difficulties draw the teacher’s attention to them.

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Myth #2: People with dyslexia read backwards, that’s all.

Fact: Dyslexia makes it challenging to break down words. Symptoms sometimes include flipping letters around. But reversing letters isn’t always a sign of dyslexia. (Young kids who don’t have dyslexia often do this too.) Nor is it the only problem associated with it. People with dyslexia may have trouble with a number of skills, including writing, spelling, speaking and socializing.

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Myth #3: People with dyslexia just need to try harder.

Fact: The brain functions differently in people with dyslexia. Some traditional reading and language instruction may not work for them. Studies have shown people with dyslexia get the most benefit from intensive instruction or tutoring that’s highly structured. Some methods involve all learning pathways in the brain, including sight, sound and touch.

Three boys in caps and gowns smiling and talking outside
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Myth #4: Dyslexia is a sign of low IQ.

Fact: Dyslexia is not a sign of low intelligence. It occurs in children of all backgrounds and intelligence levels. Having dyslexia certainly doesn’t mean your child isn’t smart. With the right kind of support, many children with dyslexia go on to higher education and are very successful in their careers.

Two sisters on the porch reading and writing in a book together
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Myth #5: Dyslexia is curable.

Fact: Dyslexia is a brain-based condition and a lifelong challenge. But early intervention and helpful classroom accommodations can have a significant, positive impact on reading ability and academic achievement.

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Dyslexia: Possible Causes

Dyslexia is a common learning issue that affects reading and other skills. Researchers think genes and brain function might play a role in dyslexia. Find out what could cause dyslexia.

9 Films That Feature Dyslexia

Dyslexia plays a leading role in these nine movies. Watching them with your child creates an opportunity to talk about his reading issues. Ask, “What do you think the filmmakers got right? What else do you wish people knew about dyslexia?” And use them as discussion points to talk about any problems or worries he may have.

About the Author

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Bob Cunningham, Ed.M., serves as advisor-in-residence on learning and attention issues for Understood.

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