Based on the definitions of dyslexia, we understand that:
- Dyslexia is brain-based (neurobiological) and may be inherited.
- Dyslexia specifically impairs a person’s ability to read.
- Dyslexia is not a general learning disability or developmental disorder.
- The disorder varies from person to person.
- Phonological processing (manipulation of sounds), decoding, fluent word reading, spelling, and/or rapid visual-verbal responding are common problems.
Recent studies have identified a number of genes that may predispose an individual to developing dyslexia. A study by Dr. Nadine Gaab at Boston Children’s Hospital’s Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience showed that in young children with familial dyslexia, inherited genes may interfere with the development of particular fibers in the left hemisphere of the brain that are involved with mapping sounds and word/letter recognition.
While dyslexia may affect as many as 1 in 5 individuals (The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity), the condition often goes undiagnosed, and many receive little or no intervention services.
However, we do know how to help these individuals become independent readers. It requires appropriate assistance that includes multisensory, structured language instruction. Furthermore, early identification and treatment is important, although it is never too late.
The ten lesson components (three blocks) of the Wilson Reading System® and corresponding professional learning to support implementation of the program with fidelity are specifically designed for this population of students and have been successfully used to help them achieve success in school and in life.
Legislation to Support Dyslexia Research
On February 18, 2016, the READ Act, Research Excellence and Advancements for Dyslexia Act, or H.R. 3033, was signed by President Obama and became law. The READ Act requires the National Science Foundation to devote at least $5 million annually to support research on the science of specific learning disabilities, including dyslexia in the areas of:
- early identification of children and students with dyslexia,
- professional development about dyslexia for teachers and administrators,
- curricula development and educational tools for children with dyslexia, and
- implementation and scaling of successful models of dyslexia intervention.
At least half of the allocation would be for research focused specifically on the science of dyslexia.
On September 30, 2015, Barbara Wilson was proud to participate in the House of Representatives’ Committee on Science, Space and Technology hearing on the READ Act. Barbara’s testimony in support of the bill and the video recording of the hearing can be found on the Committee’s website (please note the video starts at the 1 hour and 14 minute mark). Supplemental testimony was also submitted to the Committee for the Congressional Record. To learn more, view the text of the READ Act.