Dyslexia in children impacts approximately 1 in every 5 children in American classrooms.
As in all brain-based disorders, the individual impact of dyslexia spans a wide continuum from very mild to very severe. For some children, characteristics of dyslexia are apparent from an early age while others don’t display characteristics until later when they fail to make expected academic progress.
Another factor that complicates early detection of dyslexia in children is that the majority of these students have average or above average intelligence and may have strengths in a number of other areas that mask or compensate for language weaknesses. Dyslexia also commonly coexists with other learning disabilities such as dysgraphia or dyscalculia and other neurological conditions.
As researchers learn more about the brain and how it is wired for language, the more we discover about the complexities of reading. Steven Pinker, a cognitive scientist and psychologist who has written extensively about this subject, states, “Children are wired for sound, but print is an optional accessory that must be painstakingly bolted on.”
It turns out that verbal language is a human instinct acquired naturally through exposure, but reading is a complex process that involves multiple areas of the brain and requires specific instruction in the written structure of a language.
Knowledge of this structure, known as orthography, includes spelling and conventions such as grammar and punctuation and is not a naturally acquired process. When any area of the brain needed for written language is not functioning properly, or not working together with the other areas required for reading, as is the case with dyslexia, difficulties result.
Prevalance of Dyslexia in Children
Dyslexia is the most common of all specific developmental disorders and the prevalence of dyslexia in children is believed to be as high as 20%.❞
Dyslexia is not a disease and cannot be cured, but is recognized as a learning disability in educational settings and a learning disorder in psychological settings. Dyslexia is the most common of all specific developmental disorders and the prevalence of dyslexia in children is believed to be as high as 20%. Dyslexia has been found to exist across cultures and languages, and occurs regardless of the type of language structure. Studies confirm that dyslexia is not limited to alphabetic and phonics-based languages such as English and also occurs in non-alphabetic languages such as Chinese.
Dyslexia in children has previously been considered to be more prevalent in males, however, recent research does not support this finding. In fact, a 1990 study by Shaywitz et al., found that there was not a significant gender variance but that boys were referred much more often than girls for behavioral difficulties which resulted in greater teacher focus and identification. Due to this referral bias, it is important that identification of dyslexia does not, therefore, rely only on teacher referrals.
Click here to learn more about the causes and types of dyslexia in children