Dyslexia – A Learning Disability
Dyslexia – A Learning Disability

Categories: Education

Picture of chalk board that says learning disabilities

* Note: October is Learning Disabilities Awareness Month

By Guest Blogger Cayle Fuller

Sometimes I question the term, “Learning Disability.” The definition of disability is a physical or mental condition that limits a person’s movements, senses or activities. Just by the mere definition of the word, a person labeled with a learning disability is simultaneously viewed as “limited.” I think this is very sad and very wrong.

Learning disabilities are very common. In fact, as many as one in five adults in the United States have a learning disability, as well as more than one million children. Learning disability is a broad term, because it can affect many areas of learning from reading to writing to understanding mathematical concepts. Learning disabilities can be as unique as the people who have them. A learning disability is just a different way of thinking and processing information, and many individuals with learning disabilities actually have above average intelligence.

Dyslexia is a learning disability that most people have heard of but don’t really understand. Dyslexia is more than just transposing words and letters or writing letters backwards – the disability itself is not making a connection between letters and their sounds. Dyslexics often see in pictures or in 3D, so even though they can hear and see perfectly well, they interpret the information differently. For instance, they may be unable to differentiate between certain sounds or they may see letters spaced incorrectly, like this:

Thew ord sare notsp aced cor rect ly   Thewordsareallpushedtogether

Sometimes they feel as if they are thinking in German, speaking in French and writing in English. It’s no wonder some individuals have difficulty processing and understanding the English language when you read sentences like these:

“The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse…” or “Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.” 

Not surprisingly, many children and adults with dyslexia grow up feeling stupid or lazy, because they cannot learn in the same way or at the same pace as their counterparts. This is one reason why it is so important to address learning disabilities in children as early as possible.

Some children exhibit signs as early as preschool; a child may have delayed speech; difficulty rhyming; or trouble learning the alphabet, colors, shapes or how to spell his or her name. Dyslexic children sometimes have poor fine motor skills and develop more slowly than other children and often have trouble learning how to tie their shoes. These are just a few indications that a child may need additional help so his or her learning disabilities AND abilities can be identified at an early age; this way educational support can be found before too many self doubts and negative images have been formed.  However, some might argue that it’s failure itself that provides the means for success.

I am honestly amazed by the long list of famous people who all had dyslexia – Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, John Lennon, John F. Kennedy and Henry Ford, just to name a few. When I read those names I think dreamers, pioneers and points of light.

My friend, Girard, has dyslexia and founded an organization called Dyslexia My Life to help others with it. Through his website, I have learned that people with dyslexia are often gifted in other areas, but it is the disability itself that can provide the environment for failure (e.g. bad grades in school) and present the means for success. Meaning, because these people often make mistakes, they did not have a fear of failure; they knew if they try something and fail, they will just try again.

Girard serves as an inspiration to me. He may not be Albert Einstein, but despite the many obstacles in his life, such as growing up with dyslexia, he graduated from college, received his Master’s degree, produced films, founded non-profit organizations like the Gifted Learning Project and became an advocate for individuals living with learning disabilities. I know there are many people around the world like my friend, Girard, and I, for one, am thankful for their worthy contributions to this world.

For more information about dyslexia and other learning disabilities, visit the website of the Learning Disabilities Association of America at http://www.ldanatl.org/ or the National Center for Learning Disabilities at http://www.ncld.org.

Cayle Fuller is the mother of four children, ages 6-13. She and her oldest child have a nueromuscular disease called Charcot Marie Tooth (CMT), and two of her children have Neurofibromatosis (NF1) which resulted in a syme’s amputation, learning disabilities and additional therapies/treatments. Cayle is a writer, editor, stay at home mother and advocate for people with disabilities.


15 Responses to Dyslexia – A Learning Disability

  1. Keith R. says:

    Just a smiling visitor here to share the love (:, btw great design.

  2. Kassie L. says:

    I am always amazed at the perseverance of the dyslexic community. I realized a few years ago, upon becoming legally blind, that the visually impaired and dyslexic community use many of the same assistive technology tools.

    It’s great that assistive technology is changing what it means to have a disability.

    • Driele says:

      The efforts you put into this article has paid off. I am enthralled by your writing and I will share this with others. Amazing work!

  3. Andrew says:

    I think we are, as human beings, forever adapting to difficulties we may suffer. With more and more people being identified with having dyslexia, I think its important that we make the process of learning much more easier for individuals of all ages.

  4. KL Love says:

    Thanks for removing the captcha. It’s so much easier to post comments.

  5. Disability.Blog Team says:

    Hi Silvia,
    So sorry about that. We use the Typepad platform, which we were told did not require people to enter CAPTCHAs to post comments. We will look into this so it doesn’t happen again in the future. Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention!
    The Disability.Blog Team

  6. Silvia says:

    You have invited us to post a comment about dyslexia and then you make us “pass a test” by entering a code full of terrible things like p, 9, g and q. What were you thinking?!! That was terrible. I can barely do that at 8am but if it had been 8pm when I’m tired I could never have managed it.

  7. Silvia says:

    Think of reading as a muscle. The more you read, the stronger you get. Read things that interest you. If it is really interesting, you will struggle through.
    A fun reading exercise: Put in a video — an old movie that you have watched many times — click on the captions / sub-titles for the hearing impaired and use the PAUSE button to allow you to read a little at a time. Use the <<< button to replay any parts where there is an unfamiliar word.
    If you are have difficulty reading or are a non-speller, use a typing class exercise to practice. Type the difficult word over and over again. It helps. I can never remember how to spell some words, but my fingers remember.
    If you have to read a text book for a class, start at the end of the chapter. #1. Read the study questions first, #2. check out the list of vocabulary words and look up the difficult ones in the glossary, #3. read the chapter summary, #4. then turn to the beginning of the chapter and read just the first line of each paragraph. With these 4 steps you will have a good introduction to the chapter.

  8. Desiree G. says:

    I saw a trailer for a new movie about Dyslexia:
    There are so many people who have this that have not let it stop them; though they have to work twice as hard to get where they are now.
    Thanks for the article!

  9. Disability.Blog Team says:

    Dear Dr. Horowitz,
    Thank you for your comment, and letting our readers know about the resource related to giftedness and LD. We have updated the post to include a link to NCLD’s website.
    The Disability.Blog Team

  10. Aneissa says:

    What is the thought on adults that have adapted to their dyslexia, and remain “slow” readers; can they be helped still, or is it too late? Has anyone been thru this?

  11. Dr. Sheldon H. H. says:

    Thanks for this shout out about learning disabilities (LD). It is indeed unfortunate that LD is so often misunderstood and that there is all too often resistance to early identification of risk for LD, often resulting in lowered self esteem, frustration and failure. The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) has a fabulous website offering free easy-to-understand and ready to share information and resources, and online Resource Locator, and much more. And since giftedness and LD was mentioned in your article, readers might want to see a piece that addresses this important issue (http://www.ncld.org/ld-basics/related-issues/giftedness/giftedness-and-learning-disabilities).

  12. CORY T. says:

    Yeah, I have a learning d myself & it is hard when I am going to school to learn & trying to get into the college classes later where I am going now. Am going to school – ADULT ED PROGRAM inside MSU & I am having some problems with the staff that works at the school where I go to for few different reason. I am talking to VOC REHAB about that to see if they can help me with that problem & fix the few problems that they already made by 1 of my ex councelors that works at the VR. I am working with someone new right now. I also didn’t have very good learning when I was younger where I graduated from a deaf school here & I am not the only 1 that has not had very good education that graduated from there & I know they & my mom & I have tried to tell the school staff & it did not help very much.

  13. MK Crow says:

    I am very glad that you shared that there are so many people affected by dyslexia. Many highly intelligent people have this. Also, I have noted that many people who have dyslexia are very artistic. MKCROW

  14. Irene says:

    Thank you for such a wonderful and inspirational story. Please, write for and in behalf of spouses or partners. We would like to know if our partners are dyslexic. Maybe a test? Advice?