Common misconceptions about dyslexia

Common misconceptions about dyslexia

Posted by Chantal Gagnon on

When it comes to dyslexia there are so many misconceptions and we doubt we’ll be able to tackle them all here, however, we’re going to do our best and list our top four.

“Dyslexia is more common in boys than girls” 

A common misconception is that dyslexia is more common in boys. Statistically speaking, yes,  boys are more likely to be diagnosed as dyslexic. However, notice the word ‘diagnosed’. Boys are more likely to exhibit stereotypical behaviours directly linked to dyslexia, such as poor behaviour, meaning they are more likely to be referred for assessment and receive a diagnosis. Girls on the other hand are more likely to be diagnosed as an adult or within their first year of higher education. Many researchers believe this is because girls are more likely to mask any difficulties from peers and are less likely to present with poor behaviour in the classroom. 

We have to acknowledge the historical link between dyslexia and gender. Firstly, girls/ women were left out of higher educational settings until the early 1870s and thus, no emphasis was placed on their education and career prospects for a long time and unfortunately, we have been playing catch up ever since. This leaves us with inaccurate data surrounding dyslexia and gender and thus, there is no real evidence that dyslexia is more common in boys than girls (Note: Referring to gender in this article is not to undermine or exclude non-binary people. We are discussing the link between societal expectations, imposed gender roles and its effect on children being referred for assessment and diagnosis. Unfortunately, we are unable to find studies that delve into the experience of non-binary dyslexic children and this highlights the need for further research) 

“Dyslexia is an issue with eyesight”

Dyslexia remains a highly researched area with over 80 theories on how/ what / why dyslexia occurs which leaves room for confusion among the general population. Dyslexia was first coined in 1877, by Rudolf Berlin an ophthalmologist (opticians) from Germany. For many years dyslexia was believed to be an eye problem and investigated as such. However, as the years have passed this has been disproven and researchers now believe dyslexia is not an eyesight problem but a phonological processing difficulty. However, in recent years a study by French scientists uncovered a possible link between dyslexia and lack of eye dominance. Although the study showed promising results it cannot be said with certainty that dyslexia is an issue in the eyes. This point aims to highlight the debate within the research community and invites the reader to conduct further research as well as keep up-to-date with the latest research. It should also be noted that many people confuse dyslexia with visual stress / Irlen syndrome and whilst they are often co-occurring they are not definitive of one another (meaning you can be dyslexic without visual stress/ you can have visual stress without being dyslexic).

“You can grow out of dyslexia”

Contrary to popular belief you can not ‘grow out of dyslexia’, however, dyslexic individuals are likely to create coping strategies as they grow. As we grow our difficulties change and present differently depending on our environment. For example, your job may require little to no written work but does require organisation skills that many with dyslexia struggle with and did not have while in school. This is why it is so important for charities and organisations to not forget that children with dyslexia eventually grow into adults with dyslexia and still need their support. 

“Dyslexia means you lack intelligence” 

For many years there has been a stigma surrounding dyslexia and lack of intelligence. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In order to be assessed as dyslexic one will likely present with a ‘spikey chart’ ie, having high intelligence but difficulty in communicating or executing certain tasks such as reading and writing. Those with dyslexia often gravitate toward creative career paths as they find it more in line with their learning style.

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