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Dyslexia in Focus: Expert Answers to Common Questions

By Dr. Sharon Witkin |
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What is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a language-based learning difference that results in difficulty with reading that is not expected in the context of the individual’s overall cognitive ability and educational background.

What is the prevalence of dyslexia?

The estimated prevalence of dyslexia varies widely depending on how it is defined, with estimates ranging from 3-7% all the way up to 20% of the population.

How do most children learn to read?

Most children need to learn to read through rote instruction, unlike learning to speak, which occurs organically through mimicking parents.

Are people with dyslexia able to reason verbally and non-verbally?

Yes, individuals with dyslexia struggle with reading and spelling but not with verbal and non-verbal reasoning.

What is Direct Instruction?

Direct Instruction is the most effective reading program, which emphasizes phonics instruction through carefully planned lessons designed around small learning increments.

Is phonics the only ingredient of an effective reading program?

No, phonics is a necessary rather than sufficient ingredient of an effective reading program.

What is the most common underlying cause of dyslexia?

While there is no single, universally accepted underlying cause, most dyslexic people struggle to read in large part due to poor phonological decoding abilities.

How does dyslexia affect a child's education?

If a child falls significantly behind in reading due to dyslexia, they are subject to many adverse outcomes downstream that are unrelated to their innate intellectual capabilities. Their vocabulary and knowledge base may not expand as quickly as their classmates, and they are liable to fall behind in other subjects.

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Dr. Sharon Witkin

Before leading Polygon’s clinical practice, Sharon was an assistant clinical professor at UC Berkeley, a researcher at MIT, and served on the clinical leadership team at the Stanford-affiliated Children’s Health Council. Sharon received her PhD from the California School of Professional Psychology and completed her postdoctoral training at Stanford University.

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