School districts across the country are constantly in pursuit of high-test scores, sufficient financial support, and intelligent, altruistic teachers. But perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects –one that is most necessary to prompt positive change in and out of the classroom –is courage.

Educators around the world must find the courage to step out of their comfort zone to understand dyslexia. Doing so will empower them to help identify those students who struggle with reading, writing and spelling as possibly being dyslexic. Sharing this information with the parents and the school could have a positive, life-changing impact on the student.

What is Dyslexia?

DYS = difficulty   LEXIA = language

Dyslexia, in the simplest terms, means difficulty with language.

Dyslexia is an inherited condition that makes it extremely difficult to read, write, and spell in your native language despite having average to above average intelligence.

Dyslexia is not uncommon. It is estimated that up to 20 percent of the population (1 out of 5 people) are dyslexic.

The severity of dyslexia can range from mild to severe and school is often difficult for children with dyslexia.  Their struggles in the classroom environment often lead to low self-esteem because they do not feel as smart as their peers. It is critical to understand that dyslexia does not impact one’s intelligence. In fact dyslexics are average to above average in intelligence. With the correct instructional approach and appropriate accommodations, students with dyslexia can excel in the classroom and even surpass their peers.

If three or more of these warning signs exist, especially if there is dyslexia or AD/HD in the family tree, the child should be tested for dyslexia when the child becomes five years old. Older children should be tested as soon as possible.  Remember, it is never too late to be diagnosed and to get help.

First Steps for Parents

Dyslexia Symptoms


Dyslexia ranges from mild to moderate or severe to profound and no two people with dyslexia are the same. The severity and co-morbidities (ADHD) can vary.

If you have three or more warning signs, it could be Dyslexia! If your child has trouble in the early levels of school, get help immediately!

Do not wait to see if your child will grow out of it.


  • Delayed speech
  • Mixing up the sounds & syllables in words
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Severe reactions to childhood illnesses (colds, flu, etc.)
  • Trouble memorizing their address, phone number, or the alphabet
  • Constant confusion of left versus right
  • Late establishing a dominant hand
  • Prefers velcro shoes due to difficulty learning to tie shoes
  • Cannot create words that rhyme
  • A close relative with dyslexia

Elementary School

  • Dysgraphia (slow, non-automatic handwriting that is difficult to read)
  • Letter and/or number reversals continuing past the end of first grade
  • Extreme difficulty learning cursive
  • Extremely poor spelling
  • Often cannot remember sight words (i.e. they, were, does)
  • Slow, choppy, inaccurate reading – guesses based on shape or content – skips or misreads    prepositions (at, to, of) – ignores suffixes – cannot sound out unknown words
  • Difficulty telling time on a clock with hands
  • Jokes are frustrating because they don’t understand the humor in words.
  • Frequently omit beginning sounds (pisgetti for spaghetti or pacific for specific) or changes a sound within a word (aminal for animal or gril for girl)
  • Problems in math – memorizing multiplication tables – memorizing a sequence of steps – directionality
  • Difficulty in finding the correct word – lots of “whatchamacallit” & “thingies”
  • Extremely messy bedroom, backpack, & desk
  • Dreads going to school – complains of stomachaches or headaches – frequently asks to stay home from school

High School

All of the other symptoms plus:

  • Limited vocabulary
  • Extremely poor written expression – large discrepancy between verbal skills and written
  • Unable to master a foreign language
  • Difficulty in reading printed music
  • Poor grades in many classes due to low test scores and missing work.
  • May drop out of high school


Education history similar to above plus:

  • May have to read a page 2 or 3 times to understand it
  • Extremely poor spelling
  • Difficulty in putting thoughts onto paper – dreads writing memos or letters
  • Difficulty with right versus left continues
  • Confusion of north, south, east, and west. Often gets lost, even in a familiar city
  • Understanding or reading a map is extremely difficult
  • Sometimes confuses b & d, especially when tired or sick

The most well-known Orton-Gillingham based systems

  • Orton-Gillingham
    The pure, unchanged, original method. Taught by Eileen Faggiano, Orton Gillingham Associates, in Massachusetts.
    (781) 934-5548
  • Barton Reading & Spelling System
    Designed for one-on-one tutoring of children, teenagers and adults by parents, volunteer tutors, reading or resource specialists or their aides, and professional tutors. The Barton System is the easiest one to learn because all tutor training comes on DVD, along with fully scripted lesson plans. Published by Bright Solutions for Dyslexia in California.
    (408) 559-3652
  • Evidence Literacy Instruction (EBLI)
    Evidence-Based Literacy Instruction (EBLI) is an effective, efficient, revolutionary method of instruction to teach reading. It is a system of research-based literacy skills, concepts, and strategies that teach learners of any age or ability level to read, spell, and write to their highest potential. Michigan based at the Ounce Of Prevention Center.
    (810) 732-4810
  • Slingerland
    Designed for classroom settings of young children in the first, second, and third grades. The Slingerland Institute is in Washington.
    (425) 453-1190
  • Take Flight
    (Formally known as Alphabet Phonics) 
Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Texas.
    (214) 559-7815
  • Wilson Reading System
    Wilson Language Training Corporation in Massachusetts.
    (800) 899-8454
  • Language!
    Sopris West, which was acquired by Cambium Learning Group.
    (800) 547-6747
  • Project Read
    By Enfield and Greene. Published by The Language Circle in Minnesota.
    (800) 450-0343
  • Recipe for Reading
    Published by Educators Publishing Service (EPS)
    (800) 225-5750



In this powerful 24-minute video, Shawn Cork, 19, shares his personal journey with dyslexia and how his specialized tutoring with York Educational Services changed his life forever.

Visit www.brightsolutions.us for free videos and in-depth information about dyslexia.