A good definition of “dyslexia” can be difficult to find, but in my experience as a dyslexia tutor, it usually comes down to this.
Dyslexia is a learning challenge that is language-based. The term “dyslexia” can refer to a multitude of symptoms that result in difficulties with language skills, such as spelling, reading, comprehension, and pronouncing words. A person who is dyslexic will be dyslexic for their entire life, however, the impact of dyslexia can vary during different stages of life. The reason that dyslexia is referred to as a “disability” is that it can make it difficult for an individual to succeed in a typical educational environment. If the dyslexia is severe, it may qualify a student for special educational services and support. With the proper approach, a dyslexic can learn to read and write well.
The words of Barbara A. Bliss, a longtime literacy tutor and instructor, also provide valuable insight:
“Some people, returning from a concert are able to play “by ear” music they have just heard. Most of us need sheets of music before we can play the melodies. How wonderful to be able to “hear” music without the sound!
There are people who can retain the image of someone’s face and draw it accurately some time later. Unless we possess such inherited gifts, we need extensive instruction and a great deal of practice to draw even a ‘reasonable facsimile’.
The ability to recognize and remember words also varies greatly. While some can memorize pages of data and reproduce it without error, others cannot copy a person’s name without looking back and forth between copy and original several times, writing each letter separately.
Is it really so strange that there are people who must exert an unusual amount of effort to be able to read and write? Such people are described as being dyslexic; that is, they have difficulty with language. They may be gifted in other ways, including general “intelligence”, but to acquire language skills they need an alternative teaching approach.