Dyslexia’s Role in Adult Literacy
Posted by Jennifer Vecchiarelli on January 15, 2019 in categoryFacts & ResearchcategoryMember Tips

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Dyslexia is the most common cause of low literacy in adults.

Dyslexia is a language-based learning difference that affects the part of the brain that controls a person’s ability to process the way language is heard, spoken, read, or spelled. Although it is not always properly diagnosed in a person’s lifetime, it affects up to 20 percent of the American population.

Many children never receive a diagnosis and therefore miss out on the educational assistance they need to advance their reading, writing, and language skills. Often, dyslexia tremendously affects people’s self-image and sometimes makes them think they are “dumb” and incapable of many things. Either due to the discouragement of facing academic challenges or embarrassment, students tend to hide their inability to read and write and eventually drop out of school.

Furthermore, the effects of dyslexia reach well beyond the classroom. People with dyslexia face challenges with spoken language, even after they have been exposed to good language models in their day-to-day living environments. It is much more difficult for them to express themselves, or to completely comprehend what others are trying to say. Language barriers like these are precursors to facing continuous challenges in school and college, at work, and while communicating with others. 

The outcome: Thousands of adults unknowingly suffer from dyslexia, holding them back from pursuing a better paying job, or confidently reading and filling out important paperwork at the bank, the doctor’s office, or their children’s school. It is estimated that nearly 30 million adults in the U.S. suffer from dyslexia.

Dyslexia can be recognized and improved upon no matter what a person’s age is. With accommodations like text-to-speech learning and additional time given for assignments and test-taking, dyslexic students can gain self-esteem, build their reading and writing skills, earn an education, and pursue a well-paying job.

How can you tell if you, a friend, or a student you tutor may have dyslexia? Adults with dyslexia often run into some of the following challenges:

  • finding it difficult to read different fonts
  • preferring to read silently rather than out loud
  • often misusing homonyms and using poor phonetic spelling
  • struggling with fluency and reading comprehension, often needing to reread sentences 
  • getting fatigued or uninterested while reading
  • relying on others for assistance with written communications
  • struggling with spelling, grammar, and handwriting
  • tending to write using all capital letters, or with a mix of lower and uppercase letters


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