The word dyslexia is derived from the Greek “dys” (poor or inadequate) and “lexis” (words or language). Dyslexia is a learning disability characterized by problems in expressive or receptive oral or written language. Problems may emerge in reading, spelling, writing, speaking, or listening. Dyslexia is not a disease; it has no cure. Dyslexia describes a different kind of mind, often gifted and productive, that learns differently. Dyslexia is not the result of low intelligence; intelligence is not the problem. An unexpected gap exists between learning aptitude and achievement in school. The problem is not behavioral, psychological, motivational, or social. It is not a problem of vision; people with dyslexia do not “see backwards.”

Dyslexia results from differences in the structure and function of the brain. People with dyslexia are unique, each having individual strengths and weaknesses. Many are creative and often have unusual talent in areas such as art, athletics, architecture, graphics, electronics, mechanics, drama, music, or engineering. Dyslexic individuals often show special talent in areas that require visual, spatial, and motor integration. Their problems in language processing distinguish them as a group. The dyslexic person has problems translating language to thought (as in listening or reading) or thought to language (as in writing or speaking).

Characteristics of Dyslexia

Language Based Issues:

  • reading difficulties
  • difficulty distinguishing sounds in words
  • spelling difficulties
  • writing difficulties
  • vocabulary difficulties
  • comprehension difficulties

Other related issues:

  • inconsistent performance on tests
  • difficulty following directions
  • difficulty adjusting to change in routine
  • poor concept of time
  • low threshold for frustration
  • tendency to become easily overwhelmed
  • persistent procrastination
  • difficulty discriminating left/right
  • difficulty communicating in groups
  • difficulty understanding social cues


Suggested Reading

Sage School can suggest additional books on subjects related to dyslexia if you are interested.

  • About Dyslexia, Priscilla L. Vail, Modern Learning Press/Programs for Education
  • Can’t Read, Can’t Write, Can’t Talk Too Good Either, Louise Clarke, Penguin Books.
  • Josh: A Boy with Dyslexia, Caroline Janover, Waterfront Books.
  • The Many Faces of Dyslexia, Margaret Rawson, International Dyslexia Association.
  • My Name is Brain Brian, Jeanne Betancourt, Scholastic, Inc.
  • Overcoming Dyslexia, Sally Shaywitz, Knopf.
  • Reversals, Eileen Simpson, Washington Square Press.
  • Smart Kids with School Problems: Things to Know and Ways to Help, Priscilla L. Vail, E.P. Dutton Press.
  • Susan’s Story, Susan Hampshire, St. Martin’s Press.
  • Your Child’s Growing Mind, Jane M. Healy, Ph.D., Doubleday Books.
  • Shark Tank


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