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The Gow School logo A coed college-prep boarding and day school for students, grades 6-12, with dyslexia and similar language-based learning disabilities.

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What is Dyslexia?

A common misconception about dyslexia is that it involves reading backwards.

Reversed words and letters may occur, but might be only a small part of the picture.

Simply put, dyslexia is trouble learning to read and write despite average intelligence and conventional teaching.

Dyslexia affects both males and females.

Characteristics of dyslexia may include:

  • Trouble with reading (silent or aloud)
  • Poor spelling
  • Trouble organizing and writing thoughts and ideas
  • Poor grammar
  • Poor handwriting
  • Weak memory
  • Difficulty sounding out short or long words
  • Weak vocabulary
  • Trouble understanding what is read
  • Family members with similar problems
  • Delayed spoken language as a child
  • Possible trouble pronouncing long words
  • Possible difficulty with mathematics
  • Additional diagnosis of ADD/ADHD in some cases

The accepted definition, adopted by the International Dyslexia Association in 2002 reads as follows:

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

Dyslexia Explained - Picture altered from lmproulx in the Open Clip Art Library

Having dyslexia does not mean one is stupid! In fact, dyslexics often have average to above-average intelligence with high verbal language skills. Individuals may show special talents in areas that involve visual and spatial tasks. Many successful and well-known people have dyslexia including inventor Thomas Edison, actress Whoopi Goldberg, film producer and entrepreneur Walt Disney, baseball pitcher Nolan Ryan, and businessman Charles Schwab.