What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a neurobiological, language-based learning disability. The word dyslexia has now been replaced by the term Specific Learning Disorder/Difficulty (SLD), but many people still refer to their diagnosis as “dyslexia”. SLDs occur at differing degrees for different people, but commonly known terms under the SLD banner include:

  • Dyslexia: This may be diagnosed as a Specific Learning Disorder with impairment in reading, spelling, comprehension and/or written expression.
  • Dysgraphia: This can refer to difficulties in written expression and may also include struggles with the fine motor skills that involve handwriting.
  • Dyscalculia: This refers to difficulties in numeracy and mathematics.

Many people with SLDs are incredibly creative, intelligent people who have lots of strengths, but who may still struggle academically.

Many dyslexics have persistent struggles with literacy. The exact causes of the disorder are unknown, but dyslexia has been specifically connected to difficulties in learning the phonological component of language.

There are a few indicators that a learner may be dyslexic. These can include difficulties with:

  • learning to speak
  • learning letters and their sounds
  • organizing written and spoken language
  • memorizing number facts
  • reading quickly enough to comprehend
  • persisting with and comprehending longer reading assignments
  • spelling. (Dyslexia Basics: The International Dyslexia Association)

If a learner has these traits, it doesn’t always mean they are dyslexic or have another form of Specific Learning Disorder. However, these learning traits can be an indicator that the explicit, systematic teaching of decoding and encoding is needed to support an understanding of foundational literacy.