Frequently asked questions


At a glance: ADA Fact Sheet

  • What is dyslexia?

    A specific learning *difference that is neurological in origin that affects acquiring and using written language. The ADA believes that dyslexia can be assisted with the right instruction and support and that often it is the environment that causes the disability, that is, when dyslexia is left unidentified and unassisted.

    Dyslexia is characterised by difficulties with letter to sound integration, decoding skills, word reading, reading accuracy, reading fluency and spelling. In turn, reading comprehension may be impeded.

    These challenges typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is unexpected in relation to other abilities, despite the provision of effective classroom instruction.

    Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension, reduced reading experience, impeded growth of vocabulary and background knowledge. Secondary consequences include social and emotional changes and lowered self esteem. Usually secondary consequences occur due to the feelings associated with failure in school environment and usually this is due to the dyslexia not being understood and support adequately.

    The primary symptoms of dyslexia are:

    • Problems learning the letter names and sounds

    • Difficulty in reading single words, such as words on cards or in a list

    • Lack of accuracy and fluency

    • Reading slowly with many mistakes and spelling

    In addition, students may have:

    • Challenges understanding what they read

    • Challenges writing sentences or paragraphs

    Dyslexia is increasingly being seen as a difference in the way the brain works


    ADA's Definition of Dyslexia:
    “Dyslexia is a specific learning difference that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterised by challenges with accurate and/or fluent single word decoding and word recognition. Difficulties with spelling may also be evident. These challenges typically result from a deficit in the phonological and/or orthographic component of language. These challenges are often unexpected in relation to other strengths, talents and abilities. The ADA do not relate dyslexia to IQ since reading and IQ are not correlated.
    Dyslexia can remain a challenge throughout life despite mastery of language and literacy concepts; even with the provision of effective direct, explicit, structured and systematic evidence-based classroom instruction. Secondary issues may include challenges in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience and these can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge. Dyslexia, if left unidentified and untreated, can cause social and emotional troubles.”

  • What causes dyslexia?

    Challenges with phonological awareness which involves troubles with:

    Understanding the sound system of our language

    Recognising individual speech sounds in words

    Learning how letters represent the sounds of speech

    Remembering sounds in the correct order

    The ability to quickly say letter names, object names and name/recognise highly frequent words

    “Dyslexia is not due to a lack of ability, a visual issue, or lack of motivation” ADA 

  • Students with Dyslexia

    Students with dyslexia need explicit and direct instruction that is systematic, structured, sequential and cumulative in the following areas:


    Phonemic awareness – perceiving, blending and isolating the sounds of spoken language

    Alphabetical principle – how letters and letter groups represent the sounds of spoken language

    Decoding (letter to sound)

    Word recognition


    Vocabulary concepts

    Reading comprehension strategies

    Practice in applying the above skills in reading and in writing

    Reading accuracy and fluency

    Enriched language experiences: listening to, talking about, and telling stories

    Often students with dyslexia have a higher innate ability to understand texts and books through listening comprehension, that is, when they are being read to. This is not cheating, this is reading with your ears and making meaning in your brain. After all written print (Eng.) is a human invention and is only 5,000 years old. Understanding oral language is a higher order thinking skill and has been her since day dot  ADA

  • How does someone with dyslexia learn to read?

    • Early identification and evidence based structured approaches are important.


    • Scientifically based research guides us in understanding the best approaches to use.


    • Instruction needs to be delivered by a specifically trained professional that should be a classroom teacher primarily


    • Use of multisensory, direct, explicit, structured and systematic language approaches (MSL) and derivatives.

    Individuals with dyslexia can be taught how to read and spell by a knowledgable and skilled teacher, one who understands the structure of the English language and knows how to teach it. When this does not happen, reading develops poorly, so accommodations and modifications are required in the classroom, so that individuals with dyslexia can access the curriculum fairly and equitably ADA

  • How common is dyslexia?

    Approximately 10% of the school age population has dyslexia.

    15-20% of the general population has a language-based learning *difference (ADA) disability/disorder (other terms used).

    70-80% of the students with specific learning disabilities/difficulties receiving special education services (learning support) have challenges in reading, spelling and writing.

    Dyslexia is the most common cause of reading, writing and spelling challenges and difficulties.

    Individuals with dyslexia can go to do amazing things with the right understanding, teaching and support ADA

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