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10 Myths About Dyslexia You Can Definitely Ignore

Dyslexia can make reading difficult and not very fun for your child, and these common misconceptions don't help.

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Myth #1: It’s a boy thing

Fact: Boys with dyslexia are more frequently identified as having dyslexia in school, according to Bob Cunningham, EdM, a teacher, evaluator, school administrator, and advisor-in-residence on learning and attention issues for Understood.org. But dyslexia affects both genders in nearly equal numbers. So what explains the difference in schools? Researchers have found that girls tend to quietly muddle through challenges while boys become more rambunctious. Boys’ behavioral difficulties draw the teacher’s attention to them. Don’t miss these things your child’s teacher won’t tell you.

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Myth #2: Dyslexia is 100 percent hereditary

Fact: Both genetics and differences in the brain play a role in dyslexia. It does often run in families: Research suggests that 40 percent of siblings, children, or parents of a person with dyslexia will also have dyslexia. Brain imaging studies have shown differences in brain structure and function in people with dyslexia compared to those who don’t have it.

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Myth #3: People with dyslexia read backwards

Fact: Dyslexia makes it challenging to break down words. Symptoms sometimes include flipping letters around, but reversing letters isn’t always a sign of dyslexia. (Young kids who don’t have dyslexia often do this too.) Kids who have a tough time reading and learning often get misdiagnosed with ADHD. Here are other conditions often mistaken for ADHD.

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Myth #4: Reversing letters is a definite sign of dyslexia

Fact: Just because a child struggles with mirror writing doesn’t mean he has dyslexia. Some kids with dyslexia have trouble with it, but many don’t. The majority of kids who reverse letters don’t have any learning or attention issues. There isn’t one underlying issue that causes reversals. A child might reverse letters because he has a poor memory for how to form letters. Another possible cause is visual processing issues.

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Myth #5: Dyslexia affects only reading

Fact: Writing, spelling, speaking, and socializing are all skills that can be affected by dyslexia. Because dyslexia is a complex, brain-based condition, it can affect different people in different ways.

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Myth #6: People with dyslexia just need to try harder

Fact: Because the brain functions differently in people with dyslexia, some traditional reading and language instruction may not work for them. Studies have shown benefits of intensive dyslexia instruction or tutoring that’s highly structured. Some methods involve all learning pathways in the brain, including sight, sound, and touch. These are the homework-help secrets your child’s teacher wishes you knew.

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Myth #7: Dyslexia is a sign of low IQ

Fact: Dyslexia is not a sign of low intelligence. It occurs in children of all backgrounds and intelligence levels. Having dyslexia certainly doesn’t mean your child isn’t smart, and it’s important to never, ever even hint that that’s the case. Here are the things tutoring centers won’t tell you.

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Myth #8: Students with dyslexia can’t succeed in school

Fact: With good dyslexia teaching strategies and support, many children go on to higher education. (And many even come to love to read!) Check out what teachers wish you knew about learning disabilities. 

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Myth #9: Children with dyslexia can’t excel in their careers.

Fact: Many celebrated politicians, famous entertainers, and decorated Olympians, among other successful adults, have dyslexia. (Think Octavia Spencer, Anderson Cooper, Cher, Michelle Carter, and Steven Spielberg, among others.)

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Myth #10: Dyslexia is curable.

Fact: Dyslexia is a brain-based condition and a lifelong challenge. But early intervention and helpful classroom accommodations can have a significant, positive impact on reading ability and academic achievement. And here’s one fact that bears repeating: Parents are their child’s number-one source of dyslexia support. From working with the school to working on reading skills, families have the power to give children with dyslexia the tools and motivation to succeed in school and in life. Here are some healthy ways to help your child succeed in school.