The term "dyslexia" is one of the most misunderstood and
confusing terms in education. It basically just means "unable to
read," but the underlying causes of dyslexia are shockingly
misunderstood. If you ask 10 "experts" in dyslexia what it is,
and how you know if a child is dyslexic, you'll get 11 different
Much of what we describe as "dyslexia" is based on outdated or
ill-conceived notions. The world of "dyslexia interventions" is
fraught with misinformation and terrible practice.
Of course, it goes without saying that learning to read is one of the
most important skills any child can learn. Reading is the key to
success in school and in life. So it is alarming and frustrating
when a child seems to be unable to learn to read proficiently. It
is understandable that teachers and parents would want to get a child
who seems to be dyslexic into a program designed to support their needs.
However, in my experience, most "dyslexia programs" are so
ineffective as to be educational malpractice. Most dyslexia
programs in my experience do no good at all, and many of them actually
I have encountered programs that are still entrenched in practices that
are nearly 100 years old. In all that time, they've never been
shown to be effective -- they are not based in research -- they clearly
do not help children learn to read -- and yet every year, schools and
families spend millions of dollars on these programs in the hopes of
helping their children.
If you want to learn more about dyslexia (and the malpractice that most
dyslexia programs commit), I encourage you to read this paper.
Nearly every dyslexia program I've ever encountered is a shocking waste
of time and money, and I think it's high time we all came to some
common understanding about what dyslexia is, how we should diagnose it,
and how we should treat it.
It is important that dyslexic children be identified, and that they be
helped as quickly as possible, and bad dyslexia programs are just
standing in the way of progress.
Published in 2003 by Knopf Publishing
one of the best books on the topic of dyslexia, Shaywitz describes
modern neuroscience research to give a fresh look at this frustrating
disorder. Over the years, there have been so many myths and
misconceptions related to dyslexia, it is refreshing to finally have
solid, irrefutable research to guide our work with young children who
have profound difficulties learning to read.
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• Austin, TX 78703
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Last Updated 8-7-03