What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is primarily a reading disability, but it also impacts many other areas of learning and expression. For this reason, dyslexia is an excellent example of a classification that benefits from a broader understanding under the LBLD umbrella.

Dyslexia has been recognized as a discrete learning disability for many decades. Some dyslexia experts maintain that the term “dyslexia” should be reserved only for people who experience difficulty with reading. Other experts argue that dyslexia describes a broad set of neurological differences that impact a wide range of capacities, including listening, speaking, reading, writing, sequencing, and remembering. All dyslexia experts agree that dyslexia accounts for why some children have more difficulty learning to read than their peers. Even a small delay in reading can, in a few short years, translate into a significant gap between what a child is expected to read at school and what he or she is able to learn from reading.

This gap is often exacerbated for children with dyslexia because they tend to avoid reading. It’s an understandable avoidance; for these children, reading is arduous. But avoidance puts them at an even greater disadvantage. This phenomenon is referred to as the “Matthew Effect,” a term coined by reading expert Keith Stanovich (1986). In the biblical story of Matthew, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. In the case of young readers, good readers read more and get better at reading, whereas less- skilled readers read less and fall farther and farther behind their peers. In time, the difference in reading ability can become significant and begin to impact other areas of learning, such as vocabulary development and comprehension. Other capacities, like speaking and writing, can also be influenced by the amount of reading a child does. For many children with dyslexia, delayed progress in these areas diminishes their self- esteem and motivation to complete schoolwork, both of which can further hinder the ability to learn at school.