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Dyslexia

Why Doesn’t Dyslexia Go Away After Proper Reading Instruction?

By Bob Cunningham

My son received specialized reading instruction through his IEP for most of elementary school. He’s now in middle school. He still struggles with reading quickly and accurately, and with understanding what he’s read. Why hasn’t his dyslexia gone away?

Bob Cunningham

Advisor-in-Residence, Understood

Good intervention makes a huge difference for kids with dyslexia. But it isn’t a “cure.” Dyslexia is a lifelong condition—and it usually impacts more than just basic reading skills.

At the heart of it, dyslexia is a brain-based issue with language. Kids with dyslexia typically have trouble working with the sounds of language. They have difficulty decoding words. They often struggle with spelling. And they can have problems with writing, too. Trouble with working memory can also play a role in reading difficulties.

That’s why reading issues may continue even after kids have “learned to read.” For many kids with dyslexia, the process of reading is more mechanical and less automatic. It’s also slower.

Kids with dyslexia learn best with reading programs that use a systematic and explicit multisensory approach, like Orton–Gillingham. This type of instruction gives kids strategies to identify words. But using those strategies takes more time than just being able to recognize words automatically.

Also, kids with dyslexia make more mistakes when reading than other kids. So they spend more time going back over the text they’ve just seen to make sure they’ve read it correctly.

Being a fluent reader requires accuracy and enough speed to be able to focus on what the text means. When those things are lacking, it can impact reading comprehension. Kids may have the skills to read the text, but they may miss some meaning because of issues with fluency.

Given how difficult the process can be, some people with dyslexia never enjoy reading or may always try to avoid it. I don’t want to give the impression that kids with dyslexia can’t ever become strong readers, however. Or that they won’t enjoy reading at some point. Dyslexia impacts every child differently.

Dyslexia doesn’t go away. But intervention and good instruction go a long way in helping kids with reading issues. So do accommodations and assistive technology, such as text-to-speech. (Even adults with dyslexia can benefit from these.)

Just as important is the support your child gets from you. By knowing that the challenges of dyslexia continue, you can work on finding him the help he needs now, and moving forward.

Want to know more about how your child’s dyslexia may be impacting him? Try a unique simulation to get a sense of what your child experiences. Hear from a young adult on how dyslexia impacts her daily life. And if your child is getting services through an IEP, find out what to do if you’re concerned the IEP isn’t working.

About the Author

Portrait of Bob Cunningham

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

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