Dyslexia is the most common cause of word reading difficulties
It's estimated that 5% to 20% of the population has dyslexia, which is a neurologically-based condition affecting word-level reading accuracy, fluency, and spelling. While dyslexia is very common and also very well understood by researchers, most people don't know the warning signs, and dyslexia often goes unrecognized for years.
Dyslexia can impact more than just reading
Left untreated, dyslexia can have lifelong negative effects including increased risk of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, increased likelihood of experiencing abuse, under-employment and unemployment, and homelessness. Dyslexia varies in severity, and the impact depends on the effectiveness of reading instruction and/or remediation. While there is no ‘cure’ for dyslexia it is very responsive to treatment.
Early identification and intervention can prevent problems from developing
The best outcomes are achieved with evidence-based classroom instruction, early identification of kids at risk for developing difficulties, and immediate intervention when difficulties are discovered. Evidence shows that using a structured literacy approach to whole class reading instruction provides the best results for the highest number of students. While some children learn to read easily with the current Ontario approach, more than 30% of students in Ontario are not meeting literacy standards. Moving to a structured literacy approach to reading instruction can ensure that all children have the best possible chance of succeeding with reading. Even with effective classroom instruction in place, some children will require more support to be successful. The best way to help these children is to identify their issues early using universal screening, provide them with intense structured literacy interventions (before grade two) and monitor ongoing progress with skills-based assessments. It takes four times longer to remediate reading difficulties if intervention starts in grade four instead of kindergarten, so early identification and intervention are crucial.