In addition to Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October has also been named “Dyslexia Awareness Month,” a largely misunderstood learning disability that affects 1 out of 5 people.

– What is dyslexia?

It is characterized by difficulties learning to read. Often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities, if dyslexia is not detected early on, it can lead to problems in reading comprehension and a lack of reading experience that can stunt growth of vocabulary. Here is a Dyslexia PSA produced by the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity that illustrates how crucial it is to catch signs of Dyslexia early:

While there are many programs that encourage literacy in schools, Dyslexia is often overlooked. It is the most common reading disability, affecting 20% of the population, and yet it goes largely undiagnosed, especially in public and urban school populations. Children who cannot read are marginalized, and without the awareness or the resources to identify Dyslexia, they will eventually face an unsure future.

Dyslexics often have superior intelligence and creativity, but their reading challenges offset their natural gifts. Notable people who suffered from Dyslexia are Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci and Winston Churchill. Other successful dyslexics include Jovan Haye, Jay Leno, Ari Emmanuel and more.

– What are the signs of Dyslexia?

Early signs of Dyslexia* include:

  • Difficulty learning to speak
  • Trouble learning letters and their sounds
  • Difficulty organizing written and spoken language
  • Trouble memorizing number
  • Difficulty reading quickly enough to comprehend
  • Trouble comprehending longer reading assignments
  • Difficulty spelling
  • Trouble learning a foreign language
  • Difficulty with math equations

*Dyslexia symptoms referenced from the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity.

These difficulties stem not from a physical problem, but rather from basic neurological functioning of the brain. Formal and informal tests are used to determine patterns of strength and weakness, which is different from intellectual ability. Testing not only helps identify Dyslexia, but it also is the foundation for prevention.

– Who with Dyslexia can be helped?

Anyone with a human brain! Each one is unique in its own way, and so there are many ways to remediate Dyslexia with special attention given to the individual. Teaching methods are very important, such as the Universal Design for Learning principles, and also acceptance is essential for students to feel confident in themselves.

– Text-to-Speech Technology and Dyslexia

Assistive technology offers a way for dyslexics to better manage difficult tasks due to their Dyslexia, such as reading and writing. For dyslexic students, technology tools such as tablets and speech to text allow them to demonstrate their knowledge in ways previously unthinkable.
Another valuable technology is text-to-speech that converts written content to audio on any device using high quality voices, while at the same time highlighting the text so the reader can easily follow along.