The word dyslexia came into English from German. The term first appeared in a German medical publication in 1883 with the meaning of “difficulty in reading due to affection of the brain.” The German word dyslexie was coined from Greek elements: dys, “bad, abnormal, difficult,” and lexis, “word.”
The following symptoms are associated with dyslexia:
- Letter or word reversals when reading. (Such as was/saw, b/d, p/q).
- Letter or word reversals when writing. Difficulty repeating what is said to them.
- Poor handwriting or printing ability.
- Poor drawing ability.
- Reversing letters or words when spelling words that are presented orally.
- Difficulty comprehending written or spoken directions.
- Difficulty with right – left directionality.
- Difficulty understanding or remembering what is said to them.
- Difficulty understanding or remembering what they have just read.
- Difficulty putting their thoughts on paper.
Children diagnosed with dyslexia can, with intensive phonics instruction, learn to read and write.
The fact that most of the symptoms of true dyslexia are also common in people who do not have the condition leads to a misuse of the term.
- All children, for example, reverse the letters b/d and p/q when learning to write and read.
- All children have poor handwriting/printing when they do not receive adequate practice in developing legibility.
- Reading fluency and vocabulary acquisition are associated with wide reading. Children who read only in the classroom during the reading lesson are not going to become fluent readers.
- As for putting thoughts on paper, I’m a professional writer, and I frequently find it difficult to put my thoughts on paper.
True dyslexia affects from three to six percent of the population, but in some areas in the U.S., as many as 50% of fourth graders can’t read at grade level. Dyslexia is not the cause of this kind of reading failure. Ineffective instruction must take its share of the blame.