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Dyslexia Defined

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

Adopted by the IDA Board of Directors, Nov. 12, 2002. Many state education codes, including New Jersey, Ohio and Utah, have adopted this definition. Learn more about how consensus was reached on this definition: Definition Consensus Project.


Signs of Dyslexia in Elementary School

Dyslexia is more than just writing words backwards. It's a way of experiencing the world that can be both challenging and unique. While every learner is different, here are some commonalities we often see in elementary-aged students with dyslexia:

  • Slow Decoding: They might have trouble figuring out new words by sounding them out letter by letter. Instead, they might try to guess the word based on what they remember seeing before.
  • Mixing up letters and sounds: Confusing sounds of letters that are similar, like "how" and "who."
  • Making consistent mistakes: Reversing letters ("dog" becomes "bog"), write words backwards ("tip" for "pit"), or transpose letters ("felt" becomes "left").
  • Difficulties beyond reading: Dyslexia can also impact other areas beyond reading, such as struggling with numbers (difficulty grasping concepts or transposing sequences), remembering facts, planning ahead, and fine motor skills (holding a pencil comfortably).

If you suspect dyslexia, talk to your child's teacher and request an evaluation. For additional support and resources from local organizations, you can also reach out to us at