One of the problems with the word “dyslexia” is the rampant confusion that goes along with the it. If you ask anyone you know what they understand about dyslexia, I would predict that almost without exception, you will get something like, “Isn’t that when you read upside down and backward…or you reverse all those letters.”
Another misconception is the what I call the “broken bone” concept. That is, dyslexia is viewed like a broken bone that can be pulled up on some objective x-ray with an objective determination that can be made as to whether the child does or does not have it.
Recently, dyslexia as a concept exploded in the state of New Jersey. Whereas the term before was sort of like Voldemort from Harry Potter (“He who shall remain nameless.”), now everyone is dyslexia focused. I get a lot of, “So, Doc, tell it to me straight – does he have it?”
I try to do the best I can to educate people and help shake out certain misguided notions long held as truth.
I will say things like:
“Reading difficulty is a continuum, from mild, moderate to more severe. It’s hard to say if these children who have just a little bit of reading difficulty are really dyslexic.”
“It’s not like a broken bone…there is no X-Ray that tells us, “yes the person has it” or “no, he does not. It’s the weighing of a lot of different variables to come up with a reasonable conclusion.”
“Dyslexia is mostly tied into parental predisposition. So if one or the other parent struggled with reading, spelling and writing, chances are pretty good one of the children will also show signs of struggling.”
“Really, it (dyslexia) represents difficulty identifying words accurately and fluently. Very little has to do with the reversals.”
No matter what, though, it’s very hard to shake the perception at the heart of people’s thinking regarding reversal and the upside down view of things.
It’s tough to shake these concepts from peoples’ mental tree.