50 Interesting Facts About Dyslexia

What is Dyslexia?

  • Dyslexia is a learning disability that includes difficulty in the use and processing of linguistic and symbolic codes, alphabetic letters representing speech sounds or numeric representing numbers or quantities.
  • The first description of dyslexia appeared in 1896 by Dr. W. Pringle Morgan in Sussex, England, this is what he wrote: “Percy F.,… aged 14,… has always been a bright and intelligent boy, quick at games, and in no way inferior to others of his age. His great difficulty has been—and is now—his inability to learn to read.”
  • The word dyslexia is derived from the Greek word ‘dys’ (meaning poor or inadequate) plus ‘lexis’ (words or language). Implying only an inadequacy in language tasks.
  • Dyslexia is not the result of neurological damage, but the product of neurological development.
  • Dyslexia varies from mild to severe.
  • Dyslexia does not reflect an overall defect in language, but, rather, a localized weakness within the phonologic module of the brain. This module is the functional part of the brain where the sounds of language are put together to form words and where words are broken down into sounds.
  • Dyslexia is a unique mindset that is often gifted and productive but learns differently than other minds.

Prevalence of Dyslexia

  • Dyslexia affects nearly 10% of the population.
  • Dyslexia is by far the most common learning disability.
  • According to NIH research, of those who are placed in special education for a learning disability, around 80% of those have dyslexia.
  • A study at Yale found that the numbers of girls and boys who have dyslexia are about the same.
  • Dyslexia commonly runs in families.
  • Children don’t outgrow dyslexia.
  • Some of the most brilliant minds of our time have been known to have dyslexia: Albert Einstein, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Winston Churchill, Benjamin Franklin, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and John Lennon, to mention only a few.
  • There are people with dyslexia in many types of highly respected careers such as: Tom Cruise, Danny Glover, Cher, Magic Johnson, Carl Lewis, Bruce Jenner, and General George Patton.
  • “Given the high prevalence of reading difficulties, it is more likely for your child to have a reading problem than almost any other physical problem for which he is being checked.” – Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz, M.D.

Dyslexic Gifts

  • Dyslexics often enjoy and excel at solving puzzles.
  • Dyslexics have excellent comprehension of the stories read or told them.
  • Most dyslexics often have a better sense of spatial relationships and better use of their right brain.
  • Dyslexics have excellent thinking skills in the areas of conceptualization, reason, imagination, and abstraction.
  • Dyslexics have a strong ability to see concepts with a “big picture” perspective.
  • Dyslexics are adept to excellence in areas not dependent on reading.
  • Dyslexics typically have a large spoken vocabulary for their age.
  • Dyslexics tend to be more curious, creative, and intuitive than average.
  • Dyslexics’ special mode of thought easily produces the gift of mastery.
  • Dyslexia is not related to low intelligence.

Symptoms of Dyslexia

  • Dyslexia can affect spoken language, written language and language comprehension.
  • Dyslexics have trouble breaking down unfamiliar words into letter-sound segments. As a result, reading is slow and filled with errors.
  • Dyslexics require extra time and effort to process language information.
  • Dyslexics often need to be taught to look at words linearly, left-to-right.
  • Dyslexics have difficulty in learning (and remembering) the names of letters.
  • Dyslexics often fail to understand that words come apart; for example, that “batboy” can be pulled apart into “bat” and “boy” and, later on, that the word “bat” can be broken down still further and sounded out as ‘b’ ‘aaa’ ‘t’
  • Dyslexics often have a difficult time learning to associate letters with sounds, such as being unable to connect the letter b with the /b/ sound.
  • Dyslexics will sometimes make reading errors that show no connection to the sounds of the letters; for example, the word “big” is read as “goat.”
  • Dyslexics often struggle to read small “sight” words such as “that,” “an,” “in.”
  • Dyslexics often substitute words with the same meaning for words in the text they can’t pronounce, such as “car” for “automobile.”
  • Dyslexics often omit parts of words when reading.
  • Dyslexics often have difficulty remembering dates, names, telephone numbers, and random lists.
  • Dyslexics often have an extreme difficulty learning a foreign language.

Dyslexia Research Findings

  • Despite popular belief, dyslexics do not see letters backwards. They often have difficulty naming and writing letters, and in fact, writing letters backwards is something that many kids do when they’re first learning to write, whether they have dyslexia or not.
  • Many individuals with dyslexia have proven to see things three dimensionally, which can effect how they look at words.
  • Often dyslexics are thought to be reading backwards because of what is called the “Recency Effect.” In which they pronounce the word using the most recent sound first, like “tap” for “pat.”
  • Research has shown strong correlations between dyslexia symptoms and deficits in short-term memory and executive functioning.
  • Dr. Glenda Thorne stated, “Dyslexia is not a deficit in the visual processing system; however, it is a language processing problem. The hallmark characteristic of dyslexia is a breakdown in what is called phoneme awareness.”
  • Yale researchers have shown when people with dyslexia try to read the front part of the brain is over-stimulated while crucial portions in the center and back are under-stimulated.

Solutions for Dyslexia

  • Research has proven that explicit, systematic phonics can actually help ‘rewire’ the brain and help dyslexic students learn to read.
  • The use of the Orton-Gillingham approach can significantly compensate for the language learning and processing problems that arise from dyslexia.
  • Dyslexics score significantly higher on test when they are given additional time and given the test orally.
  • Dyslexics do best when directions are two steps or fewer. They often get confused and frustrated with a long list of “to dos” or directions.
  • The more important, consistent, frequent, multi-sensory, and emotionally reinforcing information is presented, the easier and more enduring language learning becomes for dyslexics.

Learn more about dyslexia in Reading Horizons free webinar: “Dyslexia: From Symptoms to Solutions” ›


Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz, M.D


About Angela Stevens

Angela is the Marketing Manager at Reading Horizons. She has been with the company since September 2009 and through her time with the company has gained a passion for literacy. When she is not promoting literacy she enjoys reading, boating, playing cards, and trying anything new that presents itself.

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28 Responses

  1. Leslie says:

    Thank you for the informative post! Not having had much contact with dyslexia, it’s good to learn more and more about it.

  2. Anita Griggs says:

    THANK YOU!!!!!!!!! This is probably the most comprehensive description of dyslexia and the various nuances of the disability that I have seen. My son is severely dyslexic, so learning about it has become second nature. It’s easy to find different articles about particular symptoms or causes, but most do not try to cover a full scope. You have done a lovely job of doing just that – putting it all in one place. If it’s okay, I plan to share this with teachers, other parents and everyone willing to read it.

  3. Angela Angie says:

    Glad to hear it was helpful! Feel free to share it with anyone!

  4. Shoshana says:

    Might also want to mention what is known as perceptual dyslexia – which is visual stress and distortions affecting reading, writing and other visual skills and activities and is caused by sensitivity to certain intensities, types and lighting conditions. It can affect how the brain processes visual information and the stress it causes can affect auditory and vestibular skills. A very effective intervention is the use of neural tinting which is determined by extensive visual perceptual testing by a trained diagnostician using specially and carefully calibrated colored tints worn as glasses or contact lenses. I have personally worked with adults and children whose reading skills have gone up 1-3 grade levels in a matter of hours after years of spec ed and tutoring, and even sometimes vision therapy and OT. It is called Irlen Method.

  5. Shoshana says:

    Also thanks for sharing this article!! I wish you much success in helping your students and educating others about dyslexia.

  6. LIAM says:


  7. LAW says:

    Thank you for this list, and expressing how people with dyslexia are actually very intelligent, and capable of great things. They just use their brains differently. My son fooled teachers until second grade. Because he is so intelligent, and had learned to manipulate people, and situations that showed his weakness, no one discovered he has severe dyslexia until the end of second grade. We had him tested by a pediatric neuro-psychologist during the summer between 2nd and 3rd grade for 2 days, and received a 26 page report. He was also diagnosed with ADD, not ADHD, and an above average intelligence. The specialist for the school district saw him for 2 hours, gave him a 2 page report that said he had below average intelligence and ADHD. What a huge discrepancy. We also found out that there are no dyslexia specialists in the state employed by the public school systems. We chose to send our son to a private school and pay for a specialist. The specialist by the way was a teacher and has 2 sons with severe dyslexia and ADHA and was unable to get help for her boys. She actually got her Special Ed cert, thinking she could then help her son’s on her own. Not so. She finally went the only route available and went for special training for two years just for dyslexia. She was unable to really help her two boys in that time, but she said she would help as many parents as she sould to keep them and their children from going through what she and her boys went through. I am a nurse and my husband is a psych tech, so we are not rich by any means, but felt his education is not a compromise we are going to make. This however is not an option for most families. If there are such a large population of children, and adults with dyslexia why can we not get proper specialists in the public school systems. Our son has made huge leaps and bounds with the specialist, but I see children every day getting left behind, feeling stupid and suffering clinical depression. When will the system learn that by helping these children we could have great scientist, Doctors, inventors, explores, writers, ect, ect ect, instead of these individuals
    becoming “a problem in society” and a “drain on the taxpayers”.
    My son knows he is different. He knows he cannot read. He feels badly about this and himself even though we tell him how special and amazing he is, and all of the great things he can accomplish “when” he learns to read. If we are doing all of this and he still feels bad, how must all of the other children feel that are not getting all of the advantages we can give our son. What about the adults out their who know they are smart but are unable for others to see it because they have difficulties reading and are never given the chance to show others what they are capable of. Sorry I am ranting. This is a very sore subject for us. My husband was is special ed along with his brother, in an expensive school district in CA. Niether was given a diagnosis, his parents were told they both had low intelligents, close to mentally retarded and would never be able to learn. We are realizing that both are dyslexic.
    My husband is in the process of completing his masters in education. He is now thinking he may actually go on and get special trainging in dyslexia. Not to shabby for someone who could not read when he “graduated” high school. Imagin graduating and being unable to read. How does this happen in this great country of ours. His brother was not so lucky. He drifts from job to job and struggles in life. I am so happy that you have given us this list that is so to the point. I am posting this to every web site I can to inform the public, our schools and our politiions about what dyslexia is and is not. Thank you. Keep up the good work.

    • Angela Angela says:

      Wow! Thanks for sharing your story! It’s obvious you have done so much to help your son. I hope all of you have success! I’m very impressed by your diligence in doing all that you can.

  8. Ana says:

    Ana I believe I’m dyslexia where can I go get tested where it isn’t going to cost me a few thousand dollars I don’t have I am 32 I have my GED I’ve always had a difficult time reading and spelling can you help? It’s a shame that while I was a young girl none of the teachers even bothered to have me tested. It is very depressing to struggle with this everyday I feel ashamed that I can’t read, write, and spell the way other people my age can

  9. Thank you so much for mentioning the difficulties with phonological awareness, or the ability to break words into their constituent parts, that children with dyslexia often have. We’re working to promote this information too on our website at http://www.booksfordyslexics.com. You’re providing a very useful service to parents just as we aim to.

  10. Kayleigh says:

    I’m nearly 14 and I’m dyslexic I hate the schools I have one to because all of them said that they were specially trained to pick out symptoms of dyslexia and none of them pick out me Iv been to seven schools and now I’m in high school. It was. E who asked my mum if I was because I couldn’t spell at all! I was always in the lowest classes except for art drama p.e and music which is the only subjects I am good at :( but anyway I went into school and asked if I could have a dyslexia test and about a month later I got one it came out that I was but they had to do another one because the first was on a laptop. On the second one it also said I was and the teacher said I would get help after the summer holidays (it was only 2 weeks till the holidays) it has now been two weeks and a bit and still no help this is why I hate school haha xxx but these facts have helped i have powned my tea hers Lolz XD :)

  11. Ken says:

    Thank you so much. This has really blessed me.

  12. Grace Mutango says:

    Thanks alot for this, am a news anchor in Kenya and Dyslexic. just realized this recently and am really trying to work on it. thanks alot and if CNN’s Anderson Copper made it,am sure i can do it as well though its been tough for me. Thanks alot for this.

  13. grace mutango says:

    Hello Angie, how can i reach you?

  14. Patrick says:

    I love this article ! Thank you

  15. Mary S says:

    This was great. I actually have a family of dyslexic children of varying degrees! Luckily we are able to send our kids to the Carroll School in Lincoln, MA! Such a gift.
    Anyhow, any thoughts on a foreign language selection. My oldest is taking Spanish and making her way through. My next just started HS and is in Spanish, but I wonder if a Latin would be better? Thoughts??? Neither kids have ever taken a language prior to HS. They can get a waiver, but it is not that easy and my son wants to play lacrosse in college, so not taking it would limit his choices dramatically I think! Just curious about any experiences and opinion?

  16. David Smith says:

    Thank you…… I can really say now that I’m not a “reatard” or a “idiot” like some of my coworkers say I am. I fill good about my self and my dyslexia in a long time. I fill like i can do anything now. Thank you…

  17. Kia says:

    I think my dad is dyslexic. I know in high school he was in a special ed class. I don’t think they even helped him. He still doesn’t know how to read at all or do math, but he can count money. I really would like to help him learn how to read, but I don’t know how to tell him. His educational problems really have messed up his life and prevented him from excelling. He’s just given up on trying to learn.

    • Josh Josh says:

      Just don’t loose hope and support him in whatever way you can. A helpful tool that might help you give him some helpful reading instruction here and there is our parent phonics training workshop. It is a free resource and I know it works the other way around in your situation, but It might prove helpful to show him some easy to learn skills that will help him recognize the structure of English words. Hope this helps and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask. -Josh

  18. Amy Pickens says:

    Thank you for your site! It is so important to share this information and diminish the stigma of learning struggles. 3 of our 4 children have been diagnosed with dyslexia over the last year, one also with dyscalculia (a math processing disorder). My husband has dyslexia, as well, and spent his whole life “faking it”. We have found a lot of resources to help our children (my husband has benefitted from them also). One of the best things we’ve come across is Learning Ally (www.learningally.org). They have over 75,000 audiobooks, including textbooks! Another resource that has made a huge difference is the book “The Gift of Dyslexia” by Ronald D. Davis. It is written very well, easy to follow with large print and walks you through step-by-step exercises (not repetitive reading, like some professionals suggest). The most important goals in our family are; to be sure that the kids know how smart they are, and help them “love to learn”. Thank you, again!

  19. Alisha Linkous says:

    We just found out our 8 year old could be dyslexic. The school gave him a screening and said he has dyslexic tendencies but they can’t explain what this means. He reads at the top of his second grade class, his grades are good though math is very hard for him. They have started him in the Baron reading program four days a week for thirty minute sessions, is this enough? How do I trust these people if they are not willing to answer questions for me? How dyslexic could he be? He knows the alphabet, letter sounds, can break words into syllables, and the more research I do the more questions I have. The school staff are not helpful at all. My son is so confused despite my best efforts to reassure him. He wants to know what he is doing wrong and I can’t tell him because I don’t really know. We have opted for private testing but private school is not option for us finally. It breaks my heart for him.

    • Josh Josh says:

      Hi Alisha, I would hope that they are willing to answer questions and are doing what they can to help, but schools often have a difficult time addressing every child’s unique needs. The Barton program uses a research-based, Orton-Gillingham approach which is the type of instruction he needs if he is dyslexic, and even if he isn’t, he will benefit from such a program.

      The Barton program is very intensive and is a very long program. In order for him to get the full benefit of the program he’d have to complete it and many times if a child is only showing minor signs of dyslexia or other processing disorders schools will take a child out of such an intensive program before they finish to help a more struggling student. Often you don’t recognize how severe a child’s processing disorders are till around 4th to 6th grade because they are able to memorize full words till around that level, so I can see how the school would have a hard time answering all the questions you might have.

      It may be difficult for the school to determine how much time he needs and if he needs the time more than another child does, but keep with them and understand your child’s progress. If you think he’s not getting enough time and he is not progressing, we offer an Orton-Gillingham based program that you can implement in your home. Please feel free to reach me with any questions you might have. Josh@readinghorizons.com

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