What is Dyslexia?
It’s a learning difficulty – specifically, it means that people who have dyslexia have problems with reading, spelling and/or maths. There is no cure – despite what some websites will tell you, there is no cure for dyslexia. However, with the right support people who have dyslexia can improve their skills and do really well. It’s different for everyone – dyslexia can even be different from one day to the next, depending on how tired or distracted someone is. The person who has dyslexia is in the best position to tell you what help they might need.
Ask, don’t assume.
There seems to be a genetic link – we don’t know the exact cause of dyslexia, but we do know that it often runs in families. That tells us that a genetic link is likely.
How dyslexia can appear
Because dyslexia exists on a spectrum, it’s going to appear differently for every person with the diagnosis. However, there are some common traits for people who have dyslexia:
- Inaccurate writing – this means they can’t remember the patterns that help most of us to learn how to spell, so they look like a bad speller no matter how hard they try.
- Trouble reading – this includes difficulty reading accurately; reading fluently; needing to re-read text a lot of times; finding that text jumbles up on the page; difficulty decoding new words; difficulty checking their own work for
- Maths difficulties – this means that people who have dyslexia often have difficulty counting backwards and remembering ‘number facts’ like the times tables. They can also struggle with estimation.
What it’s not
Dyslexia doesn’t mean someone is lazy, stupid, or can’t see or hear properly. It just means that words and numbers behave differently for them because of their dyslexia. As you can imagine, having these sorts of difficulties can make school, uni and work really hard. That can then lead to disruptive behaviour, dropping out and stress and isolation.
It’s important that we all do our best to help the people in our lives who have dyslexia to do the
best they can.
Learn more about dyslexia and how you can help those who are living with it by providing a supportive environment at work and school in our other factsheets and at www.deardyslexic.com.
Reviewed by Dr. Nola Firth, Honorary Research Fellow: The University of Melbourne and Centre for Adolescent Health, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.
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