Dyslexia…and what it is not.

Dyslexia is not just a male problem

Dyslexia does not just affect males

However, boys with dyslexia are more frequently identified in school because girls will tend to muddle through according to Bob Cunningham, EdM (Understood.org) But dyslexia affects both genders in nearly equal numbers.

So what explains the difference in schools? In general boy’s behaviour tends to draw attention to any problems they are having.

Dyslexia is not hereditary
However, both genetics and differences in the brain play a role in dyslexia.

Dyslexia can have familial element and research suggests that 40 percent of siblings, children, or parents of a person with dyslexia will also have dyslexia.

Brain imaging studies have shown differences in brain structure and function in people with dyslexia compared to those who don’t have it. For instance reversing letters is quite common in children who do not have dyslexia, especially in young children who are learning to form their letters.

As with any potential learning difficulty you will be looking for several different issues to reach a suspected conclusion.

Dyslexia is not just a reading problem
It really doesn’t. It does make reading very challenging. Children with dyslexia will struggle to break down words.

Symptoms (and this is not exhaustive) can include flipping letter, reversing letters (this isn’t always a sign of dyslexia), reading well below the expected level for age, problems processing and understanding what he or she hears, difficulty finding the right word or forming answers to questions, problems remembering the sequence of things, difficulty seeing (and occasionally hearing) similarities and differences in letters and words (phonics), problems rhyming, inability to sound out the pronunciation of an unfamiliar word, difficulty spelling. Spending an unusually long time completing tasks that involve reading or writing and sometimes avoiding activities that involve reading.

Dyslexia is not a simple identifiable condition
Dyslexia affects different children in different ways. It can affect writing, spelling, speaking, and even social skills. It is important to understand that dyslexia is a complex, brain-based condition; it really can affect different children in many, many different ways.

Dyslexia is not solved by children trying harder
As a teaching assistant we need to understand that brain functions differently in people with dyslexia and you will find that some traditional reading and language instruction just will not work for them.

Strategies such as precision teaching or colourful semantics may well help but you would discuss this with your SENCo and Teacher.

Dyslexia is not a sign of a low intelligence
Dyslexia occurs in children of all backgrounds and intelligence levels. Having dyslexia certainly doesn’t mean your child isn’t intelligent and we need to make that clear to the children we are with.

Most children respond well to praise and this is especially true when you are helping to build the confidence of a child, I have seen it happen with some of the children I have worked with.

Dyslexia is not a barrier to success
It is not and many different notable people have enjoyed success in their field.

For instance: Artists Pablo Picasso, Actor Tom Cruise, Entrepreneur Richard Branson, Scientist Albert Einstein, Olympic Rower Steve Redgrave, Actor Henry Winkler and Director Steven Spielberg and there are more.

Dyslexia is not curable
It is certainly not curable at present but who knows with genetics and all that has to discover about the brain in the future.

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.

This is really important and parents (who are their child’s number-one source of dyslexia support) need to be onside with the school, listening to the school and working with the school, the SENCo, the teacher and us, the teaching assistant.