Intelligence is not measured by a child’s ability to answer correctly but a child’s ability to work toward an answer. Dyslexia is a disability that carries the wrongful assumption that a child with dyslexia is not intelligent. This is a misconception that is not in good company. Most myths about dyslexia are commonly believed. Because of this, not only are blatant fallacies circulated, they damage children’s concept of their learning disability. Dyslexia is not limited to children and the effects that misconceptions have on children with dyslexia start as early as kindergarten.
Educators have been found to be inadequately informed about how to handle students with dyslexia. This is a problem as 7% to 10% of the population is believed to have dyslexia. Too many believe that, because 20% of the population experiences reading difficulties such as slow or inaccurate reading, they have dyslexia; in fact, many do not. In day-to-day experiences, it is not hard to come across someone claiming to have “a little dyslexia,” because they misarrange letters or write letters backward from time to time.
Despite common belief, it is normal for children to claim they see words backward at a young age. Even more common are adults flipping words around, but this often simply has to do with the rate in which they process words and how fast they can write them.
The effects brought on by over-diagnosing a population into believing it has dyslexia leaves children properly diagnosed with dyslexia to wonder if they are doing something wrong. For example, when a student has less difficulty in major learning areas and expresses to another dyslexic students that the task is easy, this may leave the dyslexic student feeling even more incompetent.
When asking a person to describe dyslexia, a common answer would be similar to someone saying, “Dyslexia is when people see words all mixed up and moved around when they read.” This is the largest misconception. Dyslexia is not a vision problem. It instead has to do with neurology. This means the problem isn’t that a student’s vision shows them a mixed-up version of words; rather, nerves in the brain have an irregular way of translating and connecting how words are expressed.
It is also important to know that there is no one definitive way to diagnose dyslexia. Dyslexia has many symptoms and no medical test. Because of this, having one or many of the symptoms doesn’t prove a person has dyslexia. Misdiagnosing students can greatly affect their ability to learn, as it can change how their peers view them and how they view themselves.
Dyslexia is not a disability that a person can be cured from or outgrow. Because of this, treatment can be as hard as the diagnosis. Tutoring is known to be most successful, as it teaches students to learn ways around how the disability holds them back.
Dyslexia has never decidedly stunted a person’s success; in fact, it is known to be common among great historical minds such as Albert Einstein and Leonardo de Vinci.
Understanding dyslexia is the first step in helping children work through the learning disability without seeing it as a hindrance. Misconceptions provide unnecessary obstacles that can greatly affect a child’s ability to learn. Educators and parents should seek proper information if their student or child struggles.
Above all, children need to understand dyslexia for themselves to learn and grow from it.
Olivia Hanson is a student at Grand Rapids High School.