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About Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a genetic variation in the brain, which makes reading, writing, spelling and sometimes math difficult despite having normal intelligence (and often times very high intelligence). Many families struggle for years trying a variety of programs to help their child. Often times, little progress is made, as children do not outgrow dyslexia.

  • At least 1 in 5 people can’t read or spell well because of dyslexia.
  • Dyslexia means difficulty with words. People with dyslexia have trouble learning to read, write and spell, despite having average to above average intelligence.
  • Although people with dyslexia struggle with schoolwork, they may excel in science, sports, music, and art.
  • Students as young as 5 ½ years old can be screened for dyslexia.

Dyslexia is a neurological condition caused by a different wiring of the brain., often familial, disorder which interferes with the acquisition and processing of language. There is no cure for dyslexia and individuals with this condition must learn coping strategies. Research indicates that dyslexia has no relationship to intelligence. Individuals with dyslexia are neither more nor less intelligent than the general population. But some say the way individuals with dyslexia think can actually be an asset in achieving success.

 Varying in degrees of severity, it is manifested by difficulties in receptive and expressive language, including phonological processing, in reading, writing, spelling, handwriting, and sometimes in arithmetic.

Dyslexia is not the result of lack of motivation, sensory impairment, inadequate instructional or environmental opportunities, or other limiting conditions, but may occur together with these conditions.

In public school settings where many teachers are not knowledgeable about this condition, students with dyslexia may be considered stupid or lazy. Parents who have children diagnosed with dyslexia should seek out reading instruction that is based upon a systematic and explicit understanding of language structure, including phonics. This reading instruction is the method we use at Pearl Reading Centre to aid our students.

Definition from the International Dyslexia Association.

Dyslexia is the most common and most carefully studied of all learning disabilities, accounting for 80-90% of all learning disabilities, according to Dr. Sally Shaywitz, Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Summary Report in 1994, research shows that dyslexia is the most common learning disability, affecting at least 20 percent (1 in 5), of our population, with varying degrees of severity. Dyslexia is the most researched of all learning disabilities and is the leading cause of reading failure and school dropouts in our nation.

NIH Longitudinal Research

The National Institutes of Health conducted a longitudinal study by tracking 5,000 children at random from all over the country starting when they were 4 years old until they graduated from high school. The researchers had no idea which children would develop reading difficulties and which ones would not.

There were many theories at that time as to what caused reading difficulties, and which tests best predicted reading failure. The researchers tested these children 3 times a year for 14 years using a variety of tests that would either support or disprove the competing theories. But the researchers did NOT provide any type of training or intervention. They simply watched and tested.


From that research, they were able to determine which tests are most predictive of reading failure, at what age we can test children, and whether children outgrow their reading difficulties. This study also spawned numerous other NIH research projects. The results of these studies were released in 1994.- Susan Barton

National Institutes of Health Dyslexia Research Project

In the early 1980’s, the United States Congress mandated the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to research learning disabilities and answer 7 specific questions.

After conducting longitudinal research plus numerous studies on genetics, interventions, and brain function, we now have a great deal of independent, scientific, replicated, published research on dyslexia. Susan Barton


NIH coordinated 18 top-notch university research teams throughout the United States to answer the following questions posed by Congress:

  1. How many children are learning disabled?
    2. Clearly define each specific type of learning disability.
    3. What causes each learning disability?
    4. How can we identify each learning disability?
    5. How long does each disability last? Map its developmental course.
    6. What is the best way to teach these children?
    7. Can we prevent any of these learning disabilities?

NIH investigated dyslexia first because it is the most prevalent learning disability. – Susan Barton


These research results have been independently replicated and are now considered to be irrefutable.

  • Dyslexia affects at least 1 out of every 5 children in the United States.
  • Dyslexia represents the most common and prevalent of all known learning disabilities.
  • Dyslexia is the most researched of all learning disabilities.
  • Dyslexia affects as many boys as girls.
  • Some forms of dyslexia are highly heritable.
  • Dyslexia is the leading cause of reading failure and school dropouts in our nation.
  • Reading failure is the most commonly shared characteristic of juvenile justice offenders.
  • Dyslexia has been shown to be clearly related to neurophysiological differences in brain function. Dyslexic children display difficulty with the sound/symbol correspondences of our written code because of these differences in brain function.
  • Early intervention is essential for this population.
  • Dyslexia is identifiable, with 92% accuracy, at ages 5½ to 6½.
  • Dyslexia is primarily due to linguistic deficits. We now know dyslexia is due to a difficulty processing language. It is not due to visual problems, and people with dyslexia do not see words or letters backwards.
  • Reading failure caused by dyslexia is highly preventable through direct, explicit instruction in phonemic awareness.
  • Children do not outgrow reading failure or dyslexia.
  • Of children who display reading problems in the first grade, 74% will be poor readers in the ninth grade and into adulthood unless they receive informed and explicit instruction on phonemic awareness. Children do not mature out of their reading difficulties.
  • Research evidence does not support the use of whole language reading approaches to teach dyslexic children.
  • Dyslexia and ADD/ADHD are two separate and identifiable entities.
  • Dyslexia and ADD/ADHD so frequently coexist within the same child that it is always best to test for both.
  • Children with both dyslexia and ADD/ADHD are at dramatically increased risk for substance abuse and felony convictions if they do not receive appropriate interventions.
  • The current discrepancy model testing utilized by our nation’s public schools to establish eligibility for special education services is not a valid diagnostic marker for dyslexia. – Susan Barton


  • Word recognition difficulties are the most reliable indicators of reading disability in older children and adults. Slow, labored, and inaccurate reading of real and nonsense words in isolation are key warning signs.
  • This laborious reading of single words frequently impedes the individual’s ability to comprehend what has been read, even though listening comprehension is adequate.
  • Even among children and adults who score within normal ranges on reading achievement tests, many report that reading is so laborious and unproductive that they rarely read either for learning or for pleasure.
  • Developing adequate awareness of phonemes is not dependent on intelligence, socio-economic status, or parents’ education, but can be fostered through direct, explicit instruction. Such instruction is shown to accelerate reading acquisition in general, even as it reduces the incidence of reading failure.
  • Disabled readers must be provided highly structured programs that explicitly teach application of phonologic rules to print. Longitudinal data (studies that follow children over time) indicate that explicit systematic phonics instruction results in more favorable outcomes for disabled readers than does a context-emphasis (whole-language) approach. – Susan Barton

Warning Signs of Dyslexia

Signs and symptoms of dyslexia can be identified and recognized at various ages such as in preschoolin elementaryin high school, and even as adults. Because the severity of dyslexia can vary from mild to moderate to severe, not every person will display every sign and symptom on this list.

In Pre-school

  • Delayed speech
  • Mixing up the sounds and syllables in long words
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Severe reactions to childhood illnesses
  • Constant confusion of left versus right
  • Late establishing a dominant hand
  • Difficulty learning to tie shoes
  • Trouble memorizing their address, phone number, or the alphabet
  • Can’t create words that rhyme
  • A close relative with dyslexia

In Elementary School

  • Dysgraphia (slow, non-automatic handwriting that is difficult to read)
  • Letter or number reversals continuing past the end of first grade
  • Extreme difficulty learning cursive
  • Slow, choppy, inaccurate reading:
    1. Guesses based on shape and context
    2. Skips or misreads prepositions (at, to, of)
    3. Ignores suffixes
    4. Can’t sound out unknown words
  • Terrible spelling
  • Often can’t remember sight words (they, were, does) or homonyms (their, they’re, and there)
  • Difficulty telling time with a clock with hands
  • Trouble with math:
    1. Memorizing mutiplication tables
    2. Memorizing a sequence of steps
    3. Directionality
  • When speaking, difficulty finding the correct word – lots of “whatyamacallits” and “thingies”
    1. Common sayings come out slightly twisted
  • Extremely messy bedroom, backpack, and desk
  • Dreads going to school
    1. Complains about stomach aches or headaches
    2. May have nightmares about school

In High School


    • Limited vocabulary
    • Extremely poor written expression
      1. Large discrepancy between verbal skills and written compositions
    • Unable to master a foreign language
    • Difficulty reading printed music
    • Poor grades in many classes

    May drop out of high school

In Adults


  • Slow reader
  • May have to read a page two or three times to understand it
  • Terrible spellers
  • Difficulty putting thoughts onto paper
    1. Dreads writing memos or letters
  • Still has difficulty with right versus left
  • Often gets lost, even in a familiar city
  • Sometimes confuses b and d, especially when tired or sick

Reused with Permission from Susan Barton.

Copyright © 2002 by Susan Barton. All Rights Reserved.

The Bright Side!

If you know or suspect that your student is dyslexic, please take comfort in the fact that they are in good company and have many strengths. Their brains are bigger than the non-dyslexic brain with many more connections between the hemispheres, allowing them to be more creative, big picture, problem solvers.

Bright side: You’re Not Alone!

People with dyslexia are in good company! Walt Disney and Thomas Edison both had dyslexia, so does many famous actors, sports figures, and successful business leaders have dyslexia. Do a quick google search for dyslexic people in a field your child is interested in, such as writers, actors, or athletes and you can share plenty of success stories to inspire and motivate them to work towards their dreams.

Bright Side: Strengths of Dyslexia

  • Seeing the bigger picture
  • Finding the odd one out
  • Good spatial knowledge
  • Picture Thinkers
  • Highly creative
  • Business Entrepreneurs
  • Thinking outside the box- problem solving

Many colleges and businesses are starting to realize that people with dyslexia actually make some of their best students and employees and are working on ways to attract people with dyslexia.

Bright Side: We Can Start Early

We do not have to wait until students fail in order to give them the teaching they need.

Signs of dyslexia can be seen even before reading and spelling begin. Check out the preschool section above on our signs and symptoms for early warning signs. Students can begin tutoring with the Barton System as young as 5 years old.

Bright Side: It’s Never Too Late

It’s never too late to retrain the brain to make reading and spelling easier. Although it is wonderful when we can catch dyslexia early, there are many successful students ranging in age from 6 to 85. If you are an adult who struggles with slow choppy reading, please contact us.

Bright Side: Help Is Within Reach

At Pearl Reading Centre we are glad that the knowledge is available today to help dyslexic students learn to read and spell successfully. There are not many private individuals and schools dedicated to teaching reading and spelling in the way people with dyslexia need, in Nigeria. The key question to ask a school or tutor: “Is the approach that you are using based on the work of Orton-Gillingham (O-G) and are you trained in it?”

Orton-Gillingham has been found to be very successful in teaching reading and spelling, especially to those with dyslexia. The Barton Reading and Spelling System is based on Orton-Gillingham. Do not hesitate to contact us at Pearl Reading Centre, we would be glad to answer any of your questions.


“Learning is not attained by chance; it must be sought for with ardour and diligence.”

— Abigail Adams

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”