The following definition of dyslexia is from the Texas Education Code (state law): “Dyslexia means a disorder of constitutional origin manifested by a difficulty in learning to read, write, or spell, despite conventional instruction, adequate intelligence, and sociocultural opportunity.” Broken down, dyslexia is a condition originating before or during birth that makes reading, writing, and spelling difficult to learn. The challenge can not be blamed on instruction at school, lack of intelligence, or parents’ economic conditions.
The International Dyslexia Association’s definition of dyslexia is, “Dyslexia is one of several distinct learning disabilities. It is a specific language-based disorder of constitutional origin characterized by difficulty in single-word decoding, usually reflecting insufficient phonological processing. These difficulties in single-word decoding are often unexpected in relation to age and other cognitive and academic abilities; they are not the result of generalized developmental disability or sensory impairment.”
Most physicians and teachers now believe that dyslexia manifests as a result of a neurological condition in the brain. Research (using magnetic imaging techniques such as MRI and PET scans) documents that differences exist between the brains of “normal” children and those identified with dyslexia. Although teachers lack the education to diagnose the disorder, teachers are usually the first to notice characteristics of dyslexia. A list of characters is presented below:
- Difficulty with phonological awareness and phonological processing skills,
- Difficulty decoding nonsense or unfamiliar words (pseudo-words),
- Difficulty with words in isolation,
- Poor fluency,
- Weak reading comprehension,
- Difficulty learning names and sounds of letters,
- Difficulty learning to spell,
- Difficulty with composition,
- Difficulty with learning the alphabet,
- A family history of similar problems.
Before applying the dyslexic label, consider prior and present instruction, lack of intelligence, and inadequate home environment. Problems with the following conditions must be ruled out as causative factors before a diagnosis of dyslexia can be applied:
- Speech and language,
- English language proficiency,
- Emotional problems.
Part of data gathering includes past report cards, daily observation records, parent conferences, formal reading assessments, and the results of accommodations and efforts to remediate.