The term dyslexia is derived from two words: dys, meaning unable, and lexicon, which pertains to written words. So the literal meaning of dyslexia is unable to read written words. Clinical dyslexia is probably a neurological condition in which the brain reverses or distorts the images it receives from the eyes. Clinical dyslexia is rare, but the diagnosis of clinical dyslexia is quite common.
Many people appear to have dyslexia when they are unable to distinguish between words such as was and saw. It is often assumed that such persons are reversing the letters within their brains, when the real problem is that they have not been taught that letters make individual sounds, and that the sounds of those letters must be processed in order from left to right. The order in which letters appear makes a difference. Many of the students we have taught were diagnosed as dyslexic because they had not been taught that very simple, basic principle of reading. Most of these children were taught to read by using the sight-word method. They were looking at words as a whole and trying to memorize words using flashcards and the individual letters had no meaning or order. They simply didn’t know that letters have sounds that must be rendered in order from left to right.
Prior to the 1930’s, there were few problems with America’s schools and the diagnosis of dyslexia was reserved for those who had neurological difficulties. Over 90% of the population was fully literate. Then the pendulum of education began to swing away from teaching phonics and it was phased out of most schools. The diagnosis of dyslexia increased by a thousand fold and today, one of every eleven teachers is a special education teacher.
A number of labels have been assigned to students who can’t read. They are called learning disabled, dyslexic, developmentally disabled, educationally handicapped, or have learning disabilities, or learning deficit disorder, etc. Over 80% of the students who come to our Reading Clinic carry labels such as those listed above. And in all but a very few instances the labels proved to be inaccurate. Most of these students have only one “disability”—they have not been taught to read by a method that works. Every one of our students has learned to read with our proven phonics curriculum and method.