top of page

Some Facts about Dyslexia

Dyslexia is defined as an unexpected difficulty in reading for an individual who has the intelligence to be a much better reader. It is most commonly caused by a difficulty in phonological processing, which affects the ability of an individual to speak, read, and spell. Dyslexia takes away an individual’s ability to read quickly and automatically, and to retrieve spoken words easily, but it does not dampen one’s creativity and ingenuity.

Dyslexia is the number one cause of illiteracy. The condition inhibits the ability to associate sounds with corresponding letters, and in some cases it causes people to perceive letters in transposed order. It is a lifelong condition but can be diagnosed and treated. Since illiteracy is a known risk factor in criminal behavior, it was sound policy to address dyslexia in the First Step Act,  a bipartisan bill signed into federal law in 2018.

If children who have dyslexia receive effective phonological awareness and phonics training in Kindergarten and 1st grade, they will have significantly fewer problems in learning to read at grade level than do children who are not identified or helped until 3rd grade. 74% of the children who are poor readers in 3rd grade remain poor readers in the 9th grade, many because they do not receive appropriate Structured Literacy instruction with the needed intensity or duration. Often they can’t read well as adults either. It is never too late for individuals with dyslexia to learn to read, process, and express information more efficiently. Research shows that programs utilizing Structured Literacy instructional techniques can help children and adults learn to read.

While the prevalence of dyslexia in the general population is about 20%, the prevalence of dyslexia in prisoners is more than twice that, or 48% according to a scientific study conducted at the University of Texas Medical Branch in conjunction with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (published 2000).  Dyslexia in the Prison Population, By Dr. Kathryn Currier Moody

Unfortunately, teacher education programs typically provide little instruction on how to best support dyslexic students, leaving educators in the dark about everything from screening to diagnosis to effective reading programs and accommodations.


Girl with Bookshelves
bottom of page