That is the most common question I get asked, especially after assessing a child…not surprising, really. I used to ask the same question about my son before I knew anything about dyslexia. Like most concerned parents I had the impression that there is something wrong with my son and I was determined to get a label in order to find a solution.
Now, ten years later, I have a different view:
Before my training and working for ten years with dyslexic individuals of all ages, I just saw that my son was struggling, thinking differently, obviously not stupid – yet having really poor marks in English and any subject where reading and comprehension was required. His spelling was appalling – I am not sure if he would have been diagnosed with ‘phonological dyslexia’ or ‘visual/surface dyslexia’. Somehow I think he would have fit into both boxes.
The term “phonological dyslexia” refers to a symptom pattern of difficulty with decoding and connecting sounds to symbols. Individuals with that form of dyslexia typically have difficulty sounding out unfamiliar words and do poorly on tests of non-word reading. The term “surface dyslexia” refers to a pattern of difficulty with whole word recognition. Individuals with that form of dyslexia often spell phonetically and are able to figure out new words, but will not be able to remember or recognize frequently encountered words. Their reading may be slow and laborious. (Abigail Marshall, Webmaster DDAI)
The Primary School my son went to never saw a reason for concern, he never had any IQ/Wechsler/psychometric assessment/dyslexia testing/psychological assessments or tests … and in hindsight I believe that was rather fortunate. Who knows – it might have sent me on a long merry-go round of fixing symptoms and phonic training which is similar to torture for dyslexics – and with questionable results.
Now, I don’t believe that Dyslexia is a learning disability, just a learning difference. Dyslexics are mostly visual learners and although they do struggle in school, they are very bright and creative. Nothing needs to be ‘cured’ or ‘fixed’, but it will help them to receive tools to increase their focus and help them understand words that don’t have a picture. ‘Sight words’ which are meant to be the easiest little words that children are learning to read first, are usually culprits for dyslexics – often they have no obvious meaning. So eventually the child will read ‘to, for, from, so, by’, but without the necessary picture or meaning, or the correct one. Instead of simply telling them what a word means, they will learn to truly master it, creatively and deeply. We need to empower the child to enable it to recognize and correct the state of ‘disorientation’ that they experiences out of confusion, frustration or resulting from the mistakes they make. A child in an oriented state is very focused and able to receive information, especially when it comes in a way they understand.
If you are uncertain, if your child may or may not qualify, here is a link to a free dyslexia test: