Understanding Dyslexia: Its Myths and Facts

Having a learning disability such as dyslexia sometimes can be a symbol of good luck in individuals’ lives. According to International Dyslexia Association, Dyslexia is defined as a learning difficulty specifically on reading, and also other related language-based skills, such as writing, spelling and pronouncing (“Dyslexia Basics”). Dyslexia can be seen as serious problem in individuals’ lives especially in their academic career. However, it may also turn to be an advantage if early intervention meets with diagnosed people. There are many successful dyslexic people such as the old chairman and co-founder of Apple Steve Jobs, the movie actor Tom Cruise, and others.

Although many successful dyslexics live successfully and contribute to the society, some other dyslexics suffer greatly from their disability that prevent them to function in their daily lives due to the myths and misconceptions that they encounter. Myths are the wrong beliefs that lead people to wrong behaviors. Some myths about dyslexia are very damaging for individuals. Some of these myths are that Dyslexia is not real, or it is very uncommon, or it is a visionary problem.

In the article, “Banish These Bad Ideas About Dyslexia” the author Temma Ehrenfeld states that “for parents, it is very normal to be afraid of and also curious about dyslexia that if it is actually happening or not, or its symptoms are easy to diagnose, when they face with their kids’ mental issue”. Ehrenfeld also says “the answer is yes, to both. “Dyslexia” is one of the conditions that are covered by the terms of the American for Disabilities Act” (“Banish These Bad Ideas About Dyslexia”).

These misconceptions can affect an individual in negative ways both emotionally and psychologically. However, the society can raise awareness to dyslexia and eliminate the stigma attached to being a dyslexic by accurately defining dyslexia with its struggles and benefits, debunking the myths about it and lastly, realizing why dyslexics are an important part of the community. These can help an individual with dyslexia show their extraordinary skills, so that the people once “disabled to learn” can contribute to the society in positive ways.

Dyslexia is characterized as a learning difficulty on language-based activities, such as reading, but it is more commonly known as having difficulties with memory, perceiving information, remembering them correctly, and also managing time, according to British Dyslexia Association (“Dyslexia and Co-Occurring Difficulties: Overview”). People with dyslexia often have struggles with reading, especially reading aloud due to missing letters and their sounds. This affects other depended skills such as writing, spelling correctly, recognizing and pronouncing the words clearly, finding a direction with maps or understanding the standardized patterns easily. Even though dyslexia is categorized as a learning difficulty, it appears in individuals’ lives in different ways and forms, depending on its level of severity. In the book, “ Living with Dyslexia: The Social and Emotional Consequences of Specific Learning Difficulties/disabilities the writer, Barbara Riddick, states that “naming dyslexia shows differences because It faces with individuals in various areas” (Riddick 7). Dyslexia is often inherited as it runs in family, but it is also affected by environmental factors. It is described as being neurobiological in origins; however, motivations and social systems that individuals grew up with dyslexia may have crucial effects in different situations, according to IDA (“The Myths and Truths of Dyslexia in Different Writing Systems”).

Learning difficulties that affect particularly individuals’ career can also lead the diagnosed people with dyslexia to have physical and mental fatigue, isolation from others, and constant anger to life itself. According to the studies of Bullock (1975) and Warnock (1978), due to wrong learning methods for individuals with dyslexia, dyslexics have more tendencies to encounter financial and environmental problems in the future (Riddick 7). Quick give-ups on tasks, depression and even tendency to criminal activities could be inevitable endings in dyslexics’ lives. In the article “the lifelong social and emotional effects of dyslexia” the author states that due to long process of having a job such as filling the application forms and doing interviews could be frustrating for dyslexic, and they can even find illegal activities as an option and go for them (“The Lifelong”). Dyslexia can be seen as a disability, but it might also enable individuals to face serious trouble in life.

Although dyslexia often impacts an individual’s life with its struggles, there are also many benefits of being a dyslexic. Since dyslexic brains work and function differently than normal brains, it may cause them to be superior to others in different areas, such as science and arts. If they improve their poor language-based skills, their problems may turn into advantages, such as thinking and perceiving in different dimensions, experiencing the thought as reality. Dyslexic people tend to feel isolated from others and that may even cause to them to have depression. However, if they overcome their individual difficulties with dyslexia, these effects can benefit dyslexics by turning into having a unique vision, and seeing the big picture instead of words. According to Dr. Catya Von Karolyi, a professor in psychology in Wisconsin University, “dyslexia could be natural superior skills, but cannot be categorized with only its challenges.” As Catya Von Karolyi says, “dyslexia can benefit individual’s life with having unique talents rather than with its struggles” (Paul 6).

The myths about dyslexia affect society diagnosed individuals with dyslexia harmfully. According to Psychology Today, when people start searching for this learning difficulty, so many confusing misinformations show up, and stop them on what they are looking for.(“Banish”) Because those all misconceptions of dyslexia lead people to follow wrong information, therefore misunderstandings become inevitable in individuals’ life. Special treatments delay and anxieties of dyslexics increase. Also, calling dyslexia as a learning disabilty instead of learning way or style causes to happen more myths about dyslexia. Brock Eide and Fernette Eide explains “like a archaeologist who’ve discovered a vast and elaborately carved gate but become so engrossed in its study that we have failed… because we first recognized dyslexia as a learning disorder rather than a learning or processing style…” (“The Dyslexic Advantage”). Changing the perspective of dyslexia may help individuals to have special treatments for their difficulty without delaying it, but, first knowing the truths about dyslexia takes an important role on this process.

One of the misconceptions about dyslexia is that dyslexia is a very rare and an uncommon disorder when in fact dyslexia is a commonly seen learning disability that affects an ‘estimated 15 percent of Americans,’ according to NY Times (Paul 6). Moreover, it is the most common cause of reading difficulties seen amongst elementary school children. Some people diagnosed with dyslexia can have more mild forms of the disorder, while others can experience it a lot more severely. The International Dyslexia Foundation states ‘between 15% and 20% of the population has a language-based learning disability with dyslexia being the most common of these disorders’ (“The Problem”). This brings a light to another misconception that dyslexia is more common amongst boys than girls. This, in fact, is purely wrong because dyslexia affects both genders equally in schools. The reason why boys attract more attention of their teachers is that they are more vocal about their challenges than their female peers.

Another myth about dyslexia is that dyslexia is a visionary problem and dyslexics can only read or see things backwards. The fact of the matter is that it is a huge challenge for dyslexics to easily identify and break down words. Therefore, one of the symptoms to identifying dyslexia include placement of letters around. However, flipping letters around does not always signal one as having dyslexia. As a matter of fact, according to research that has been conducted a majority of young children, not diagnosed with dyslexia, flip letters around as well. In addition, reversing letters is not the only sign of dyslexia anyway. Dyslexics usually have trouble with numerous skills such as writing, speaking and socializing. Most children and adults with dyslexia are able to read, even if it is at a basic level, and spelling is one of the classic red flags that show dyslexics may have problem in their academic career. (Frost 5).

One other crucial misconception of dyslexia is that people with dyslexia have low IQ levels and that dyslexia is a sign of low intelligence. This in fact is not true. There is absolutely no correlation between low IQ and dyslexia. Suzanne Adlof and Tiffany Hogan says that due to “reading” needs long time and “formal instructions”, comparing people’s IQ levels by testing their “reading achievements” does not show real results, and it is usually causing to miss a chance of taking early support” (“Understanding Dyslexia,” 762). Dyslexia can occur in all individuals in all intelligence levels, differing cultural backgrounds and upbringings. As a matter of fact, dyslexics can have high, middle, or low IQ’s just like the rest of the population. it is worth mentioning that with right kind of support, dyslexic children can grow to be successful adults with successful academic careers. Some children can even have high IQs even when they are diagnosed with dyslexia due to having a brain that works differently than others. Take for example some of the successful names who have shown exceptional skills particularly in science and art related fields including Tom Cruise, Steve Jobs and Anthony Hopkins.

Another misconception is that dyslexia can be cured when, however, dyslexia is not even a disease. People diagnosed with dyslexia simply have ‘different brains’ that find certain tasks like reading and writing difficult just as some of us find it hard to play soccer or run 5 miles. However, many dyslexics have great visual and spatial skills that can prove beneficial to their perspective employers in their careers. It is believed by many people that dyslexia can outgrow later in life, but this does not hold true. Unless people get an intervention in early stages of their disability, they will always continue to encounter struggles and problems in their daily lives. It is possible to, however, help these individuals ease their problems with the right kind of support system.

It is important to be aware of dyslexia because dyslexic brains have different processing styles, and they develop in different ways. “Dyslexic brains are organized in a way that maximizes strength in making big picture connections. According to learning disability expert Fernette Eide, “dyslexia is simply an alternative way that our brains can be wired” (Venton 11). Another learning disability specialist Dr. Stefani Hines states “dyslexics tend to have strengths in other areas, such as creativity and imagination. They also think outside the box” (Fisher 4). We should be more conscious about dyslexics because they are naturally highly creative and have exceptional reasoning skills.

It is essential to know the myths and facts about dyslexia. Otherwise, dyslexics may repeatedly face struggles in their daily lives as they would be using their potential in negative ways. Since there is high potential due to different functioning levels of a dyslexic brain, individual’s unique skills should be discovered. Knowing exactly what dyslexia is and what being dyslexic is with its benefits and struggles, and distinguishing between myths and facts about this learning disability will help us raise awareness about people diagnosed with dyslexia.

Works Cited

“Dyslexia and Co-Occurring Difficulties: Overview.” British Dyslexia Association, www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/dyslexic/dyslexia-and-specific-difficulties-overview.

“Dyslexia Basics.” International Dyslexia Association | …until Everyone Can Read!, www.dyslexiaida.org/dyslexia-basics/.

Ehrenfeld, Temma“Banish These Bad Ideas About Dyslexia.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/open-gently/201705/banish-these-bad- ideas-about-dyslexia.

Fisher, Luchina. “Celebrities with Dyslexia Who Made It Big.” ABC News, ABC News Network, abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/celebrities-dyslexia-made-big/story?id=17338379. 35(5), 263-279.

Paul, Annie Murphy. “The Upside of Dyslexia.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 4 Feb. 2012, www.nytimes.com/2012/02/05/opinion/sunday/the-upside-of- dyslexia.html.

Riddick, Barbara. “Living With Dyslexia : The Social and Emotional Consequences of Specific Learning Difficulties/Disabilities.” Vol. 2nd ed, Routledge, 2010. EBSCOhost. “The lifelong social and emotional effects of dyslexia – JKP Blog.’ Home page. Web.

“The Myths and Truths of Dyslexia in Different Writing Systems.” International Dyslexia Association | …until Everyone Can Read!, www.dyslexiaida.org/the-myths-and- truths-of-dyslexia.

Frost, R. “Towards a Universal Model of Reading.” The Behavioral and Brain Sciences, “The Problem.” Dyslexia International, www.dyslexia-international.org/the-problem/? doing_wp_cron=1542818936.0770349502563476562500( paragraph-1).

Venton, Danielle. “Q&A: The Unappreciated Benefits of Dyslexia.” Wired, Conde Nast, 3 June 2017, www.wired.com/2011/09/dyslexic-advantage.

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