What Is Dyslexia?

The term dyslexia describes a pattern of learning difficulties characterized by problems with accurate or fluent word recognition, problems with decoding, poor spelling, and sometimes written comprehension.   Gavin Reid defines dyslexia as a “processing difference experienced by people of all ages, often characterized by difficulties in literacy, but it can affect other cognitive areas such as memory, processing speed, time management, coordination and sense of direction.   There may be visual and phonological difficulties and there is usually some discrepancy in performance in different areas of learning.  It is important that the individual differences and learning styles are acknowledged since these will affect outcomes in learning and assessment.  The difficulties associated with dyslexia may be more pronounced in some learning situations (Reid, 2003).”   

While it is possible to develop strategies to learn successfully, dyslexia can be a lifelong challenge for some.  Dyslexia is not an indicator of poor vision or hearing.  It is not due to low intelligence, and many children with dyslexia become frustrated that others may believe they are lazy or unmotivated.

Research by Sally Shaywitz at the Yale Center for Creativity and others have shown that certain areas on the left side of the brain (including Brocca’s and Wernicke’s) are wired differently.  Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) often shows distinct patterns of activation for dyslexic and non-dyslexic brains completing the same activity.