Myth #1 - Dyslexia is rare.
In fact, dyslexia is the most common learning disability. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (2011), 80% of people with learning disabilities have dyslexia. The AAP states that dyslexia affects 5-17% of all people. The variance in prevalence statistics is due to the fact that dyslexia exists on a continuum (ranging from mild, moderate, severe and profound) and researchers may use a different cutoff for symptoms. We still encounter many people who have trouble believing how prevalent dyslexia really is. The truth is that once you are educated about dyslexia's signs and symptoms, you can spot dyslexic kids in every classroom.
Myth #2 - Dyslexia can't be diagnosed until third grade.
Parents everywhere report hearing this one! In fact, dyslexia can be diagnosed as early as late kindergarten. Many parents are reluctant to pursue a diagnosis, because educators tell them their child is probably just a late bloomer and to give it more time. But believing this myth can be costly. According to studies done by Dr. Sally Shaywitz at the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity, approximately 75% of students identified with reading problems in 3rd grade were still struggling readers in 9th grade. When it comes to diagnosis, the earlier, the better.
Myth #3 - People with dyslexia see things backwards.
While it's true that people with dyslexia sometimes get the direction of letters and numbers confused, they don't actually see them backwards. Dyslexics have trouble with directionality. They get confused about left vs. right, up vs. down, b vs. d, etc. In addition, people with dyslexia often have trouble finding the right name for objects, so they may see a letter and say the wrong letter name. It is true that some people with dyslexia also have visual processing problems - such as eye tracking and convergence - but those problems are not considered to be a primary feature of dyslexia.
Myth #4 - People with dyslexia can't read.
Most people with dyslexia can read - but only to a point. Most "hit the wall" with reading in third or fourth grade and are unable to progress. They have difficulty decoding longer, multi-syllable words- despite instruction in phonics. They may read a word correctly on one page, but fail to recognize it on the next. They make errors with sight words and word endings.
Myth #5 - Most kids will eventually outgrow dyslexia.
Dyslexia is the result of a different processing style in the brain and it lasts a lifetime. New research is being conducted showing brain differences in very young children with a family history of dyslexia. Dyslexia is not outgrown. The good news is that dyslexic people can learn to read, write and spell when appropriate interventions are provided. After working to overcome these challenges early in life, many dyslexic people learn to appreciate their unique brains and the strengths that come with it.
Check out our Dyslexia Myths and Facts handout - great to email or print.
For a complete list of dyslexia myths and facts, read Debunking the Myths About Dyslexia from the University of Michigan.