Austin Area Branch of The

What is Dyslexia?

The word dyslexia is derived from the Greek "dys" (meaning poor or inadequate) and "lexis" (words or language). Dyslexia is a learning disability characterized by problems in expressive or receptive, oral or written language. Problems may emerge in reading, spelling, writing, speaking, or listening. Dyslexia is not a disease; it has no cure. Dyslexia describes a different kind of mind, often gifted and productive, that learns differently. Dyslexia is not the result of low intelligence. Intelligence is not the problem. An unexpected gap exists between learning aptitude and achievement in school. The problem is not behavioral, psychological, motivational, or social. It is not a problem of vision; people with dyslexia do not "see backward." Dyslexia results from differences in the structure and function of the brain. People with dyslexia are unique; each having individual strengths and weaknesses. Many dyslexics are creative and have unusual talent in areas such as art, athletics, architecture, graphics, electronics, mechanics, drama, music, or engineering. Dyslexics often show special talent in areas that require visual, spatial, and motor integration. Their problems in language processing distinguish them as a group. This means that the dyslexic has problems translating language to thought (as in listening or reading) or thought to language (as in writing or speaking). 

What Characteristics Accompany Dyslexia?  

Few dyslexics exhibit all the signs of the disorder. Some common signs are: 

Who Has Dyslexia? 

The National Institutes of Health estimate that approximately 15% of the U.S. population is affected by learning disabilities. Of students with learning disabilities who receive special education services, 80-85% have their basic deficits in language and reading. Every year, 120,000 additional students are found to have learning disabilities, a diagnosis now shared by 2.4 million U.S. school children. Many children are never properly diagnosed or treated, or "fall through the cracks" because they are not deemed eligible for services. Dyslexia occurs among all groups, regardless of age, race, or income. Many successful people are dyslexic and many dyslexic people are successful. Recent research has established that dyslexia can run in families. A parent, brother, sister, aunt, or grandparent may have had similar learning difficulties. 

What Can Be Done? 

The correct first step is to contact The International Dyslexia Association. Individuals with dyslexia need special programs to learn to read, write, and spell. Traditional educational programs are not always effective. Program Content: Individuals with dyslexia require a structured language program. Direct instruction in the code of written language (the letter-sound system) is critical. This code must be taught bit by bit, in a sequential, cumulative way. There must be systematic teaching of the rules governing written language. This approach is called structured, or systematic language instruction. 

Program Delivery: Individuals with dyslexia require multisensory delivery of language content. Instruction that is multisensory employs all pathways of learning --at the same time, seeing, hearing, touching, writing, and speaking. Such delivery requires a teacher or therapist who is specifically trained in a program which research has documented to be effective for dyslexic individuals. 

The Society can provide referrals for testers, tutors, and schools specializing in dyslexia, as well as information on new technologies, Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (I.D.E.A.) legislation, Americans with Disabilities Act accommodations for college students and adults, and medical research updates. We encourage early intervention, including a multisensory, structured, sequential approach to language acquisition for individuals with dyslexia. We offer professionals and educators information on multisensory structured language approaches to teaching individuals with dyslexia.


* For Further information, like: Fact Sheets, FQAs, Current Dyslexia research articles, etc.; please refer to the IDA website


Austin Area Branch of the International Dyslexia Association
Local Austin Area Helpline (512) 452-7658 ---

Call our volunteers for:

  1. Membership application blanks and basic information packet
  2. Teacher training information
  3. Referral lists for: