Getting the right diagnosis and support for a child with dyslexia is incredibly important. Even though dyslexia is one of the most common learning disabilities (research shows that as many as 1 in 10 people has dyslexia), there are still a lot of misconceptions about what it is.
Here are some common myths about dyslexia—and the facts to set them straight.
Myth: Dyslexia is about flipping or reversing letters.
Fact: Actually, reversing letters is very common and developmentally appropriate as children learn to read and write. So when your kindergartner writes a letter “D” backward, it isn’t a sign that they have dyslexia. So what is dyslexia, then? Dyslexia is a learning disability that affects how the brain processes language. This makes it harder to connect sounds to letters on the page—which means it’s harder for people with dyslexia to read fluently. It can also be harder to spell, write, and even follow multi-step directions or processes.
Myth: Dyslexia is a sign of lower intelligence.
Fact: Dyslexia is a learning disability. It is not an indicator of intelligence. In fact, many students with dyslexia excel in other areas of academics—and in many other parts of their lives, too!—even while they struggle with reading. (Read about some famous people from past and present who have dyslexia—from Albert Einstein to Whoopi Goldberg.)
Myth: Dyslexia goes away once a child learns to read.
Fact: There is no cure for dyslexia, and children don’t “outgrow” it. Like other learning disabilities, children with dyslexia need the right support and resources—and with those supports, they can thrive in and out of school.
Myth: Dyslexia presents the same way in everyone who has it.
Fact: People experience dyslexia in many ways! For many people, dyslexia is mostly a challenge related to reading. Some people with dyslexia might have trouble writing, listening, or following multi-step directions.
Myth: Dyslexia doesn’t show up until kids are in third grade or later.
Fact: You might be able to spot signs of dyslexia even before your child learns to read. In fact, an early diagnosis is a good thing: early interventions tend to be more effective, and younger children receiving additional support with their reading won’t feel the same social stigma that older children might experience when they need extra help.
Here are some common early signs of dyslexia:
- Your child has trouble rhyming. Rhyming is one of the early building blocks of literacy. If your young child has a hard time identifying rhyming words, it’s something to keep an eye on. (Pro tip: Playing rhyming games with your toddler is a great way to lay the foundation for reading, and keep an eye out for signs of dyslexia at the same time.)
- Your child struggles to recognize or differentiate letter sounds. Many children with dyslexia will struggle to hear the difference between similar sounds like p and b, or they might confuse letters that look similar on the page, like b and d. Struggling to remember letter names can also be a sign of dyslexia.
- Your child has a hard time remembering sequences. It might be challenging to remember the ABC song, for example, or how to follow a multi-step direction.
Since dyslexia presents differently as children grow, check out these common signs of dyslexia at every age (Understood.org).
Read about one mom’s experience parenting two kids with dyslexia (Understood.org).
If you think you’re seeing signs of dyslexia in your child, start by talking to their teacher.
Your child’s teacher won’t be able to make an official diagnosis, but they will be able to offer their own observations and share what types of interventions (if any) they are already using in their classroom. The Dyslexia Resource offers some starter questions to ask your child’s teacher.