What is Dyslexia?
This is a question I get asked a lot when I say I have the condition. There are a lot of stereotypes surrounding Dyslexia and in this blog, I’m going to break down what Dyslexia is, what it can be and what it’s not. As with most things, it’s not the same for everyone and it exists within a spectrum of traits and difficulties and it tends to be genetic. This is just my experience with Dyslexia but I’m going to try and cover as wide a number of traits as possible.
Well yes, but also, no – Let me explain!
Take a moment to read the following:
Dsyelxia is a ponhlogoiacl processing porblem, in shrot, its not taht Dyslexic poeple read diferetnly to non Dsylexic people – it’s that tey porcess the ifnrmaton diferentyl, making it difficult to undersand wat we are reding.
That’s what it’s like for some Dyslexic people when they read. The letters have jumped around but not in the typical way that most people think about it in their heads… the letters aren’t actively moving while we read.
Dyslexia is a phonological processing problem, in short, it’s not that Dyslexic people read differently to non Dyslexic people – it’s that they process the information differently, making it difficult to understand what we are reading.
Dyslexic people find decoding words hard. If we see a word in isolation, rather than reading it in whole, we have to break it down. Below is an example (In red is how non-dyslexics read it compared to Dyslexic people):
Piano | PI • AN • O
That’s just one word and reading the right compared to the left has probably taken you a few more seconds in your head right? Well, imagine reading everything I have written above in this way.
The amount of time we spend decoding the words we reading make our reading speed slower than most of our peers and this can cause us serious problems in school. Especially with tasks such as comprehension and spelling.
Following on from above, it’s not really that we can’t spell but our brain struggles to decode the rules of the language in the same way as a non-dyslexic person. Because when we are asked to spell something we have to visualise the word, decode it and then spell it. Our brains tend to read things phonetically meaning that instead, a word might become something else:
Friends | FRIENS
Unlike popular belief, there isn’t just one type of Dyslexia – There are actually four other common types of Dyslexia!
Phonological Dyslexia – People with this type of Dyslexia often find it hard to recognise individual letter sounds and then turn them into a word. It’s also hard to break words down into syllables and connect letters and words to the sounds they represent.
Surface Dyslexia – This type of Dyslexia makes it hard to read words that are spelt differently to how they are pronounced. It’s also called visual dyslexia sometimes but most people prefer not to use this term because Dyslexia is not a problem with eyesight.
Rapid Automatic Naming Dyslexia – People with RPND often have trouble with recognising letters and numbers quickly.
Double Deficit Dyslexia – This is when two types of Dyslexia appear together within a person’s brain.
While Dyslexia is primarily difficulty with language and literacy, there are other learning difficulties that may be diagnosed at the same time. Most people tend to group these in with the Dyslexia as they all affect each other in various ways. These are:
Dyscalculia – Difficulty with math
Dysgraphia – Difficulty Writing
Left – Right Disorder – Trouble Telling Left From Right
While I doubt there are many people nowadays who think this when I was growing up in the mid 90’s – early 00’s. This was a common thing I would hear. In short, no we are not dumb or lazy. We are neurodiverse.
Neurodiversity is a movement that says that because all of our brains process slightly differently, society should view those who are brain function atypically to the neurotypical brain not as a pathological disorder or defective, but instead embrace the differences and give them a seat at table, as they bring unique points of view and ways of problem-solving.
To dismiss Dyslexia as someone being dumb or lazy does a disservice to some of the greatest minds and figures in culture such as Picasso, Winston Churchill, Muhammad Ali, Cher, Richard Branson, Thomas Edison & Albert Einstein.
This shows that Dyslexic people have the capacity to be brilliant and successful people in life.
Instead of writing people with Dyslexia off in childhood and telling them that they will never achieve anything, or calling them stupid. Find strategies and coping mechanisms to help them, encourage them to work twice as hard as their peers (because as annoying as it is, that’s the reality of how to succeed) and teach them that they are not stupid, but that their minds work in different ways… and this is a superpower!
I hope that this article that answers the question “What is Dyslexia?” has helped you. As you’ve probably guessed there is a lot more that I could talk about when it comes to the subject.
The next thing you’re probably wondering is “Is there a test for Dyslexia?” well find out in our next blog in the series!
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