DYSLEXIA MYTHS & URBAN LEGENDS

Peeping

Myth:

Dyslexia cannot be diagnosed until the child is in 3rd grade.

 

Fact:

Professionals with extensive training can accurately diagnose dyslexia as early as age 5. The sooner a diagnosis is made, the quicker your child can get help, and the greater chance you have of closing the educational gap. Be aware of the signs for dyslexia before 3rd grade. A combination of a family history of dyslexia and symptoms of difficulties in spoken language can help identify a vulnerable child even before he/she begins formal schooling.

Myth:

The child can't be dyslexic. They've made it through the lower grades just fine. Now they're just being defiant and refusing to do the work.

 

Fact:

Dyslexic children are excellent compensators. They will use clues, memorize as much as they can, guess at context using the habits of poor readers like using picture clues and more, but in the higher grades when picture ques go away and they are required to read to learn, not learn to read, the tools they use to compensate will not help them any longer. Additionally, holes that exist in their understanding of the alphabetic code or issues with fluency will impact their comprehension of text and they will begin to struggle. A child or adults age is irrelevant in the diagnosis of dyslexia. Starting as young as 5, children can be diagnosed, and unidentified children and adults can be diagnosed at any age.

Myth:

More boys than girls have dyslexia.

 

Fact:

Boys’ reading disabilities are indeed identified more often than girls’, but studies indicate that such identification is biased. The actual prevalence of the disorder is nearly identical in the two sexes. So why are more boys sent for testing than girls? It's because of their behavior. It seems when boys in first, second, or third grade can't do classroom assignments or homework, they get frustrated and act out their frustration. Parents and teachers notice that behavior and then try to figure out why they are behaving that way -- by sending them for testing. But often, when girls in first, second, or third grade can't do the work, they tend to get quiet, move to the back of the room, and try to become invisible. So they don't get noticed as early.

Myth:

Dyslexic children will never read well, so it’s best to teach them to compensate.

 

Fact:

Individuals with dyslexia can become terrific readers with the proper instruction. It is important to identify a child early in his/her school career in order to discover any problems and engage in proper instruction / remediation as young as possible.

Myth:

Retaining a child (i.e., holding them back a grade) will improve their academic struggles.

 

Fact:

According to several institutions (i.e., The U.S. Department of Education, The American Federation of Teachers and The National Association of School Psychologists) and their extensive research, there is no benefit to retention because it has never improved a student’s academic struggles. This is especially true if the method of instruction, e.g. the use of balanced literacy, doesn't change. Repeating the same unhelpful curriculum will simply harm the child's self esteem.

Myth:

We acquire a majority of our phonological awareness from language rich environments.

Fact:

Regardless of how language and literacy rich your environment may be, phonological awareness must be explicitly taught. Phonological awareness is the ability to recognize and manipulate the spoken parts of sentences and words. Examples include being able to identify words that rhyme, recognizing alliteration, segmenting a sentence into words, identifying the syllables in a word, and blending and segmenting onset-rimes. The National Reading Panel report states that explicit phonological awareness instruction is highly effective for developing phonological awareness in children, which in turn prepares them to read words and comprehend text.

Myth:

Accommodations are a crutch, and the child for whom they are made will become lazy.

Fact:

Accommodations are not an advantage; it is an attempt to level the playing field whether it is a standardized test, class work, or homework assignments, however accommodations should NOT replace high quality, explicit instruction based on the scientific data for both reading and writing, otherwise it's just a thing given to a child to enable a school to claim they're helping, when in reality they're not.

Myth:

Children with dyslexia are just lazy. They should try harder.

Fact:

Research has shown, via fMRIs that those with dyslexia use a different part of their brain when reading and working with language. Dyslexic people show a different pattern of brain function when reading: underactivity in some regions, overactivity in others which, according to researchers, accounts for the difficulty they have in extracting meaning from the printed word. The findings provide evidence that people with dyslexia do not lack intelligence and are not lazy or stupid. Their brains just work differently. Lack of awareness about this disorder has often resulted in the child being branded as 'lazy.' If students with dyslexia do not receive the right type of intervention they often struggle in school -- despite being bright, motivated, and spending hours on homework assignments both academically and emotionally.

Myth:

Smart people cannot be dyslexic or have a learning disability.

Fact:

Dyslexia and intelligence are NOT connected. Many dyslexic individuals are very bright and creative who will accomplish amazing things as adults.

Myth:

Balanced Literacy curriculums like Units of Study and Fountas & Pinnell are appropriate curricula to teach a child how to read.

Fact:

The empirical evidence is clear that "Balanced Literacy" curricula are wholly inadequate and only teach children the habits of poor readers. Children who arrive at school already reading or primed to read may appear to do well under these curriculums, but only compromise 36% of the total student population. The remaining 64% however will need additional practice opportunities in various and specific areas of reading and language development. The failure of these curricula is most severe for children who do not come to school already possessing what they need to know to make sense of written and academic English. These students are not likely to get what they need to read, write, speak and listen at grade level.

Myth:

Gifted children cannot be dyslexic or have a learning disability.

Fact:

Dyslexia has no correlation with intelligence. Many dyslexics have very high IQs and have gone on to accomplish outstanding things in their lives. Many famous authors, researchers, lawyers, politicians, financial giants, and others from all different professions are dyslexic.

Myth:

A child's fluency in reading isn't as important as their comprehension.

Fact:

A child's fluency in reading is key to the child's ability to properly comprehend the text and to become a highly skilled reader. Fluency is a key part of Scarborough's Reading Rope, but more importantly fluency is not simply how fast a child can read text. Fluency must be obtained at each strand of the rope in order to progress forward and ultimately achieve overall text fluency. Without achieving text fluency, the child will be a more labored, slower reader than necessary, requiring more critical thinking to comprehend text. When we ignore the importance of fluency, we deny the child all of the developmental skills necessary to achieve true reading skills. Again, this is not how QUICKLY a child can read text. Speed is not fluency. Instead fluency is when a text reader can take all of the strands of the rope and effortlessly pull them all together to read and understand text.