Ten to 15% of the US school population has dyslexia. Dyslexics have an inherited neurological difference, resulting in language, perceptual, processing, and attention/concentration differences. Yet only 5% of individuals with dyslexia are ever properly diagnosed and given appropriate help, so over 85% of adult illiterates are dyslexic. This lack of literacy limits their ability to become successful, productive adults, find jobs, or function independently within their communities. Yet, with the proper recognition and intervention, dyslexics become successful individuals using their talents and skills to enrich our society.

Dyslexia is a language disability, not a reading disability, so not only does it affect the ability to learn to read, write, and spell by conventional methods, it affects the ability to communicate in more subtle ways. Dyslexics have processing, perceptual, and attention/concentration problems. The majority of ADD individuals are also dyslexic.

Learning to read can be a problem for individuals with dyslexia or ADD.
What reading approaches
will not work

What is required in the reading approach for dyslexics to become efficient readers
Basal reader
Straight phonics
Whole word
Whole language/language experience

Individualized instruction
Multisensorial techniques
Intensive phonics
Synthetic phonics
Linguistic
Meaning based
Systemic and sequential
Cumulative
Process oriented
Other problems caused by dyslexia/ADD:
Level of production and work varies from day to day
Sequencing difficulties
"Losing" time, problems prioritizing, completing tasks, wasting time
Takes spoken or written language literally -- problems with generalization, applying information to new or different situations
Poor memory -- quick learner but quick forgetter
Difficulty following oral directions and remembering what they have been told

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ADD/ADHD is not new. The name has just been changed. There is a high co-morbidity with dyslexia, with 60-70% of individuals with ADD having dyslexia as well. Unfortunately, currently ADD/ADHD is predominantly being identified and addressed through a single symptom, attention concentration or the behavioral aspect, as opposed to the more pervasive language, perceptual, and processing deficits which also exist.
General Characteristics Of Dyslexia and Attention Deficit Disorders:
Spotty performance on IQ tests: high in some areas, low in others; IQ scores decline by age 12
Poor visual motor perception resulting in handwriting and copying problems
Poor reading skills or poor comprehension skills
Poor phonological awareness
Poor ability to deal with time, which makes them have problems in organizing, settingand maintaining goals, realizing what their behaviors or choices will "cost" in the future
Poor spatial orientation resulting in poor handwriting and problems with "reading" body language
Impaired auditory processing problems, so that sometimes they cannot remember instructions or they "mis-hear" what they have been told
Speech irregularities
Variability in performance -- able to do something one time and not another time
Literal interpretation of language with difficulty with nuances, transferring or generalization of information, and more difficulty developing morals and ethics
Attention and concentration deficits
High incidence of allergies, alcoholism, diabetes, learning problems, and thyroid conditions in their families or themselves

Addressing the single characteristic of attention/concentration through drug therapy is counterproductive and has long-term negative effects. Diagnosing a child or adult as ADD/ADHD based on this single characteristic is also erroneous. Other medical and behavioral problems also have attention/concentration or hyperactivity as a symptom, such as brain damage, nutritional and vitamin deficiencies, behavioral and emotional disorders, thyroid deficiency, environmental toxin exposure, etc. It is critical that a thorough differential diagnostic battery be administered to properly diagnose ADD/ADHD. There is no check sheet or inventory sufficient to diagnose ADD/ADHD properly.

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In order to have a proper diagnosis and proper plan of intervention and remediation, a thorough differential diagnosis should be administered, which considers the entire syndrome of dyslexia and attention deficit disorders. No SINGLE test exists that can identify dyslexia. No IQ test exists that can identify dyslexia.

Diagnosticians should give a variety of tests which examine the individual's learning, language, perceptual, and intellectual strengths and weaknesses.

Diagnosticians may be educational specialists, speech and language pathologists, or psychologists who are trained in the field of dyslexia.

Questions PARENTS should ask when choosing a diagnostician:

1. What do you know about dyslexia? What organizations/conferences concerning dyslexia have you been affiliated with?
2. Does your testing give a differential diagnosis or do you use the exclusionary model, which is used by the public schools? (A differential diagnosis is the most appropriate.)
3. Does your testing evaluate the entire syndrome (characteristics listed above) of dyslexia and attention deficit disorders?
4. Will your testing report present specific information on how to address my child's learning differences?

NOTE 1: If a diagnostician continually keeps shifting back to using the term specific learning disability, then the diagnostician probably does not really understand or know how to identify dyslexia.

NOTE 2: An excellent resource for parents searching for a diagnostician is Testing: Critical Components in the Clinical Identification of Dyslexia, published by the International Dyslexia Association, Chester Building, Suite 382, 8600 LaSalle Rd, Baltimore, MD 21286-2044, phone (410) 296-0232 or (800) ABC-D123.

Questions ADULTS should ask when choosing a diagnostician:

1. What do you know about dyslexia? What organizations/conferences concerning dyslexia are you affiliated with?
2. Does your testing give a differential diagnosis or do you use the exclusionary model which is used by the public schools? (A differential diagnosis is the most appropriate.)
3. Does your testing evaluate the entire syndrome (characteristics listed above) of dyslexia and attention deficit disorders?
4. Will your testing report present specific information on how my learning differences affect my employment and social/emotional behavior as well as my learning?
5. Will your report give me specific recommendations for obtaining my potential?

NOTE 1: If a diagnostician continually keeps shifting back to using the term specific learning disability, then the diagnostician probably does not really understand or know how to identify dyslexia.

I. Perception 1. Impaired directionality or poor right/left discrimination.
2. Poor performance on visual-motor gestalt test for age and intelligence.
3. Field dependent perception.
4. Impaired auditory discrimination.
5. Poor spatial orientation.
6. Impaired temporal orientation.
7. Impaired coordination or gross motor skills.
8. Impaired fine motor skills.
9. Impaired reproduction of tonal patterns.
10. Impaired reproduction of rhythmic patterns.
11. Speech irregularities.
II. Processing 12. Impaired concentration ability.
13. Short attention span for age.
14. Slow in finishing work.
15. Poor ability to organize work.
16. Variability in performance.
17. Impaired inhibitory patterns or perseverative behaviors.
18. Low tolerance to frustration.
19. Impaired activity levels.
20. Concrete thought patterns.
21. Possible secondary emotional overlay.
III. Intelligence 22. Spotty performance on intelligence test, achievement high in some areas while low in others, high on some types of tests while low on others. Depression in intelligence scores.
23. Mental age on Draw-A-Man test below mental age on individual intelligence tests.
IV. Academic 24. Reading disabilities. (Oral reading and/or comprehension)
25. Spelling disabilities.
26. Writing disabilities. (Dysgraphia)
27. Expressive problems. (Dysphasia)
28. Mathematical and/or calculation disabilities. (Dyscalculia)
29. Poor performance on group tests that require reading and writing.
30. Frequent perceptual reversals in reading or writing beyond age and instructional level.
31. Phonological awareness problems.
32. Poor retention of learned information.

V. Medical and Family Background -- Genetic 33. More susceptible to allergies and addictions.
34. Family or personal history of allergies, diabetes, alcoholism, arthritis, migraines, learning problems, thyroid disorders.