What Is Dyslexia?
Generally, if you ask the question, "What is dyslexia?" there is a degree of uncertainty regarding its prevalence, nature, and causes. Data cited by the United States National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) shows 20 percent of elementary school students are at risk for reading failure and of that number, 5 to 10 percent have difficulty learning to read despite exposure to research-based reading instruction that is successful for most students. However, these figures may underrepresent the prevalence of dyslexia because of a general underdiagnosis of reading problems. In the well-known and highly regarded Connecticut study of Sally Shaywitz (2003) and her colleagues from Yale University, these researchers determined that as many as 20 percent of all children are reading disabled with less than one-third of these identified and receiving services. There is still that "mystique" associated with dyslexia, probably due to changing terminology, speculations regarding causation, and no one "remedy" to the problem. As our fifth-grade student with dyslexia notes, there is the widespread belief that there is something wrong with how individuals with dyslexia read words. The word identification problems of individuals with dyslexia relate to specific difficulties with the phonological components of language, central to the definition of dyslexia offered below.
The following definition is provided after an exhaustive review of several hundred research studies and published articles and books on the subject of dyslexia:
"Dyslexia" definition= dys and lexia, or inability to effectively read words, is the most prevalent specific learning disability (at least 50% of the LD population). It is thought to have a neurological basis, and the disability is unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and access to effective classroom instruction. There are specific difficulties with fluent reading and the phonological components of language (i.e., phonemic awareness). Secondary issues may or may not include other academic problems (e.g., reading comprehension); difficulties in socialization (e.g., more negative peer interactions) and co-existing disabilities or disorders (e.g., ADD or ADHD with 25% of those with dyslexia). With intensive literacy support in reading and writing, a social-academic network of support, and the development of individual resiliency, individuals with dyslexia can lead successful and fulfilling lives. (Spafford & Grosser, 2005)
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