9430 SW Coral St. Suite 204, Tigard, OR 97223, US

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Northwest Dyslexia Center

An Integrative Approach to Dyslexia

What is Dyslexia?

The overwhelming majority of children who have difficulties with reading and spelling have a condition called dyslexia. 

Perhaps the simplest description of a child with dyslexia is one who is bright and talented, but unexpectedly struggles with learning to read, spell, and/or write.

Parents and teachers are often dismayed about why this intelligent child has so many difficulties with written language.

The current International Dyslexia Association (IDA) definition for dyslexia is as follows:

Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.

-Adopted by the IDA Board of Directors, Nov. 12, 2002. This Definition is also used by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).


Facts About Dyslexia

  • About 20% of children are affected by mild to severe dyslexia. It is a myth that dyslexia is uncommon.

  • Only about 1 in 10 children with dyslexia will be identified by schools as having a reading disability. Most children with dyslexia will go undiagnosed.

  • Dyslexia is a problem with phonemic awareness, which is the ability to hear and manipulate sounds within a one syllable word. It is an essential pre-reading skill and is necessary before phonic instruction begins.

  • Dyslexia is a genetic, inherited disorder. It is not caused by lack of student motivation, poor teaching, poor parenting, or visual problems.

  • Dyslexia is a neurobiological condition in which the “wiring” of the neuro-pathways in the brain are structured and work differently than people without reading difficulties. Researchers using fMRIs can actually see the differences in the way language is processed in the brains of people with dyslexia and therefore classify dyslexia as a language processing disorder.

  • People with dyslexia have larger brains. The left hemisphere of their brain is the same size as non-dyslexics, but their right hemisphere is about 10% larger. Researchers believe this may be why so many dyslexic people are gifted in areas that are controlled by the right hemisphere of the brain, such as art, music, and athletics.

  • Dyslexia affects people all over the world of different races, socio-economic backgrounds, and educational levels.

  • Dyslexia is found in both boys and girls in similar numbers although boys are four times more likely to be sent for evaluation.

  • Early identification and intervention is crucial to preventing reading problems. Research shows that with appropriate early intervention, children can overcome many of their language difficulties and increase their reading skills to at least an average level.

  • Dyslexia is not a developmental lag that will eventually go away. Waiting to intervene does not benefit a child. In fact, research shows that remediation is increasingly more difficult as a person gets older and instruction needs to be more intensive to overcome the deficits from years of reading failure. It is never too late to get help with dyslexia, but earlier is always better.

  • Children can be reliably screened for phonemic awareness and pre-reading skills as early as 4 years old. By the middle of kindergarten, students can be accurately diagnosed with dyslexia, allowing for early intervention.

Learn More

Many dyslexic people are gifted in areas that are controlled by the right hemisphere of the brain, such as art, music, and athletics.

Signs of Dyslexia