• M. Kovack

Is Dyslexia really a thing?

Updated: Mar 1

Yes! And while there has been a great deal of resistance to using this term (I am talking DECADES of resistance), the recent (February 28, 2022) Ontario Human Rights Commission's Right to Read inquiry report included 7 recommendations calling on their Ministry, school boards, and faculties of education to explicitly recognize and use the term dyslexia.

In the US, 33 states have recently passed dyslexia-related laws. While there is not a definitive line in the sand where one is either dyslexic or not dyslexic (as dyslexia falls along a continuum - think of an ark - with those who struggle with learning to read and spell at the word level at one end, and those who learn to read and write more effortlessly are on the other), we have a great deal of evidence from FMRI studies that demonstrates that the brain structure and function of those who are at the 'struggling' end of the spectrum is significantly different. Thus, we use the term dyslexia to signify this group of 5-20% of people. Those who have taught people with dyslexia how to read have a great deal of knowledge about effective reading instruction. Because of the hard work, patience, and determination of people with dyslexia, their families and teachers, and researchers, we now understrand the specific approaches - namely, structured literacy - that work. We now know how to help almost everyone learn to read.

The International Dyslexia Association has an abundance of research and resources that explain all of this. The Ontario branch, in particular, has a very comprehensive website. It sheds light on high quality reading instruction - not only for students with dyslexia, but for all children. The bottom line is that the most impactful change we can make toward more equitable access to print is to use structured literacy approaches to learning to read. This benefits all, harms no one, and is absolutely critical for those with dyslexia. In a recent position statement from Lucy Calkins (2019), "the pipeline of children with untreated dyslexia to prison is real, to say nothing of the relationship between dyslexia and emotional stress, social problems, academic achievement, and more" (p. 7).


Calkins, Lucy. (2019). No one gets to own the term "the science of reading". The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Facebook Page. November 21 8:53pm,

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