Anyone who works in dyslexia tutoring tends to be asked about the nature of dyslexia on a regular basis. One of the most common questions a dyslexia tutor fields is regarding whether dyslexia is a “disability”. The term “disability” is a rather loaded one, and it can prove to be both beneficial and detrimental.
One one hand, using the term “disability” for dyslexia can have benefits, because it does underscore the difficulty that dyslexia can cause in a student’s education. Dyslexia tutors see these difficulties on a regular basis. For a student with severe dyslexia, working with language at all can be very difficult. A dyslexic student may have trouble reading, spelling, writing, and comprehending what they read. In a normal instructional environment, this can make it very difficult for a dyslexic to succeed. In this sense, the word “disability” seems appropriate.
On the other hand, the word “disability” seems to indicate that a student is incapable of progressing in a certain area. For dyslexics, this is simply not true. With a dyslexia tutor who uses a proven dyslexia tutoring approach, a dyslexic student can make a tremendous about of progress in reading, spelling, writing and comprehension. When given the tools they need through dyslexia tutoring, a student can begin to excel in their education and other interests.
So, calling “dyslexia’ a disability may be appropriate as long as the parties involved understand exactly what they mean by that term. Some dyslexia tutors and educators prefer the term “learning challenge”, because that phrase seems to imply that a student can still succeed and progress. Whichever term you choose to use, it is important to understand the meaning of the term.