What is Dyslexia?

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What is Dyslexia? What does it take to get a diagnosis?

Dyslexia is the name for specific learning disabilities in reading. It is a language based disability in which a person has difficulty understanding words, sentences and/or paragraphs. Oral and written language are both, very often, affected. It is often characterized by difficulties with accurate word recognition, decoding and spelling. It may cause problems with reading comprehension, slow down vocabulary growth, poor reading fluency and reading out loud. Dyslexia is not the result of poor instruction.

In order to truly understand dyslexia, one must first understand the complex process of reading and its component parts. For a person to be able to read well they must have certain skills in place:

Lexical knowledge- the ability to correctly recognize and pronounce familiar,
irregular words.

Cipher knowledge- the ability to read and pronounce words properly.

Phonemic awareness-the ability to hear and distinguish sounds.

Alphabetic principles- the awareness that symbols on the page have sounds.

Concepts of print- the awareness that in English we read text from left to right and top to bottom and books open from the left.

Language comprehension- the ability to understand and draw inferences from language.

Syntax- the ability to understand the way words fit to make phrases.

Semantic- the ability to understand the individual meaning of words.

A good reader is able to utilize all of this knowledge and these skills to read a simple passage. If any one of these processes break down it can create what may look like a major difficulty with reading. This is where the term dyslexia, specific learning disability in reading or developmental reading disorder may be used. Many states use a more generic term rather than specifically test and delineate Dyslexia.

In addition, some argue that the diagnosis of Dyslexia can only be made by a medical doctor. However, most insurance does not cover the diagnosis. That being said, in order to make a clear diagnosis certain components are needed. According to the International Dyslexia Association an educational/medical history, academic assessment in the areas of oral language, word recognition, decoding, spelling, phonological processing, automaticity, fluency, and possibly a neuro psychological exam to accurately diagnose language based learning issues are all needed to accurately diagnose Dyslexia.

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