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What is Dyslexia

Simply defined Dyslexia is an inherited condition that makes it extremely difficult to read, write, and spell in your native language — despite at least average intelligence.


Dyslexia is a neurologically-based, often familial, disorder which interferes with the acquisition and processing of language. Varying in degrees of severity, it is manifested by difficulties in receptive and expressive language, including phonological processing, in reading, writing, spelling, handwriting, and sometimes in arithmetic. (Revised Definition from The International Dyslexia Association)


Dyslexia is not the result of lack of motivation, sensory impairment, inadequate instructional or environmental opportunities, or other limiting conditions, but may occur together with these conditions.


Although dyslexia is lifelong, individuals with dyslexia frequently respond successfully to timely and appropriate intervention.



Dyslexia is an inherited condition. Researchers have determined that a gene on the short arm of chromosome #6 is responsible for dyslexia. That gene is dominant, making dyslexia highly heritable. It definitely runs in families.

Dyslexia results from a neurological difference; that is, a brain difference. People with dyslexia have a larger right hemisphere in their brains than those of normal readers. That may be one reason people with dyslexia often have significant strengths in areas controlled by the right side of the brain, such as:

  • artistic, athletic, and mechanical gifts

  • 3-D visualization ability

  • musical talent

  • creative problem solving skills

  • intuitive people skills

In addition to unique brain architecture, people with dyslexia have unusual “wiring.” Neurons are found in unusual places in the brain, and they are not as neatly ordered as in non-dyslexic brains.

In addition to unique brain architecture and unusual wiring, f/MRI studies have shown that people with dyslexia do not use the same part of their brain when reading as other people. Regular readers consistently use the same part of their brain when they read. People with dyslexia do not use that part of their brain, and there appears to be no consistent part used among dyslexic readers.

It is therefore assumed that people with dyslexia are not using the most efficient part of their brain when they read. A different part of their brain has taken over that function.



There is no substitution for early intervention when it comes to helping individuals with dyslexia. In schools where children are screened in kindergarten and placed under proper instruction, it is found that these children will rarely if ever struggle in the areas of reading, writing and spelling. However, in the public school system, the laws vary from state to state and remain inconsistent in their use. Therefore, unless a child is profoundly dyslexic or goes to a uniquely intuitive private school, it is not unlikely for their dyslexia to go undiagnosed for years, if not for life. This is totally unnecessary. If a child of any age is found to show three or more of the warning signs for dyslexia and at least have an IQ above 70, proper instruction in an Orton-Gillingham based program, such as the Barton Reading and Spelling System, will lead to success in areas of reading, writing and spelling, which will also trickle over to improved success in other areas as well.

Additional Resources
Common Myths

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