Everything You Thought You Knew About Dyslexia Is Probably Wrong

Dyslexia can make reading difficult and not very fun for your child, and these common misconceptions don't help.

Myth #1: It's a boy thing

childImage Point Fr/ShutterstockFact: Boys with dyslexia are more frequently identified as having dyslexia in school, according to Bob Cunningham, EdM, a teacher, evaluator, school administrator, and advisor-in-residence on learning and attention issues for Understood.org. But dyslexia affects both genders in nearly equal numbers. So what explains the difference in schools? Researchers have found that girls tend to quietly muddle through challenges while boys become more rambunctious. Boys' behavioral difficulties draw the teacher's attention to them. Here's how to make reading more fun for your child.

Myth #2: Dyslexia is 100 percent hereditary

brainsfam_photo/ShutterstockFact: Both genetics and differences in the brain play a role in dyslexia. It does often run in families: Research suggests that 40 percent of siblings, children, or parents of a person with dyslexia will also have dyslexia. Brain imaging studies have shown differences in brain structure and function in people with dyslexia compared to those who don't have it.

Myth #3: People with dyslexia read backwards

readingcrazystocker/ShutterstockFact: Dyslexia makes it challenging to break down words. Symptoms sometimes include flipping letters around, but reversing letters isn't always a sign of dyslexia. (Young kids who don't have dyslexia often do this too.) Kids who have a tough time reading and learning often get misdiagnosed with ADHD.

Content continues below ad

Myth #4: Reversing letters is a definite sign of dyslexia

writingFrankCalderon/ShutterstockFact: Just because a child struggles with mirror writing doesn't mean he has dyslexia. Some kids with dyslexia have trouble with it, but many don't. The majority of kids who reverse letters don't have any learning or attention issues. There isn't one underlying issue that causes reversals. A child might reverse letters because he has a poor memory for how to form letters. Another possible cause is visual processing issues.

Myth #5: Dyslexia affects only reading

readingJ.McPhail/ShutterstockFact: Writing, spelling, speaking, and socializing are all skills that can be affected by dyslexia. Because dyslexia is a complex, brain-based condition, it can affect different people in different ways.

Myth #6: People with dyslexia just need to try harder

kidESB Professional/ShutterstockFact: Because the brain functions differently in people with dyslexia, some traditional reading and language instruction may not work for them. Studies have shown benefits of intensive dyslexia instruction or tutoring that's highly structured. Some methods involve all learning pathways in the brain, including sight, sound, and touch. These are the homework-help secrets your child's teacher wishes you knew.

Content continues below ad

Myth #7: Dyslexia is a sign of low IQ

kidunguryanu/ShutterstockFact: Dyslexia is not a sign of low intelligence. It occurs in children of all backgrounds and intelligence levels. Having dyslexia certainly doesn't mean your child isn't smart, and it's important to never, ever even hint that that's the case. Here are more things parents say that ruin kids' trust.

Myth #8: Students with dyslexia can't succeed in school

schoolPressmaster/ShutterstockFact: With good dyslexia teaching strategies and support, many children go on to higher education. (And many even come to love to read!) Check out these secrets of straight-A students.

Myth #9: Children with dyslexia can't excel in their careers.

careerYURALAITS ALBERT/ShutterstockFact: Many celebrated politicians, famous entertainers, and decorated Olympians, among other successful adults, have dyslexia. (Think Octavia Spencer, Anderson Cooper, Cher, Michelle Carter, and Steven Spielberg, among others.) Find out what successful people do at work every day.

Content continues below ad

Myth #10: Dyslexia is curable.

readingGeorge Rudy/ShutterstockFact: Dyslexia is a brain-based condition and a lifelong challenge. But early intervention and helpful classroom accommodations can have a significant, positive impact on reading ability and academic achievement. And here's one fact that bears repeating: Parents are their child's number-one source of dyslexia support. From working with the school to working on reading skills, families have the power to give children with dyslexia the tools and motivation to succeed in school and in life. Here are some healthy ways to help your child succeed in school.
View as Slideshow

Want to stay smart and healthy?

Get our weekly Health Reads newsletter

how we use your e-mail
We will use your email address to send you this newsletter. For more information please read our privacy policy.