What Is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a learning disorder that affects approximately 10 percent of children. Those diagnosed with dyslexia have trouble connecting sounds to letter symbols. This affects the way children with dyslexia learn to read and spell. Fortunately, major strides have been made in understanding the language-based disorder, many of them at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. Children with dyslexia can learn to read and be successful despite their learning differences. (Position Statement and Remediation)

For more information about the condition, including frequently asked questions, Texas Dyslexia Law, suggestions for parents and teachers and additional resources, please download TSRHC's Dyslexia Defined materials. For more information regarding the role of orthographic processing in dyslexia, please view: Orthographic Processing: A Subcomponent, Not a Subtype of Developmental Dyslexia

Dyslexia and TSRHC

The Luke Waites Center for Dyslexia and Learning Disorders is named for Dr. Luke Waites, who in 1965 established a program at TSRHC to identify and treat children with learning disorders, primarily dyslexia. The World Federation of Neurology met at TSRHC in 1968 and formulated the first consensus definition of developmental dyslexia. TSRHC's Luke Waites Center for Dyslexia is now internationally recognized in the field of learning disorders.

The center provides evaluation and diagnosis for children with academic learning disorders, as well as specialized treatment for those with dyslexia. Led by medical director Dr. Jeff Black and director Gladys Kolenovsky, the center's team combines the experience and skills of medicine and education. Services include:

Becoming a Patient

Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, located in Dallas, uses several criteria to determine a patient's eligibility. A child must meet the following requirements to be evaluated for a learning disorder at the Luke Waites Center for Dyslexia:

  • The child must be a Texas resident between the ages of 5 and 14.
  • A physician's referral is required with each patient application.
  • The child must be a proficient English speaker.
Cause Diagnosis Treatment

Dyslexia is a word reading problem due to differences in the brain that make learning letter sounds difficult.

Without adequate letter-sound knowledge, recognizing words in print is slow and inaccurate. The root cause is weak phonological, not visual, processing. This phonological weakness is with the sounds of language.

There is no single test for dyslexia.

Dyslexia is identified by gathering information about all the factors that influence reading development and measuring reading ability. Family, medical, social-emotional and school data include questionnaires, health records, behavior ratings, grades and academic testing. Adequate general intellectual functioning, oral language, vision and hearing are determined using prior results or direct assessment. The dyslexia evaluation includes tests of the root cause (phonological processing) and reading subskills (accuracy, speed, comprehension, spelling). A clinician, or assessment team, makes the diagnosis after studying all of the relevant information.

Intervention for dyslexia directly, explicitly and systematically teaches an awareness of the sounds of language, letter-sound associations, vocabulary and strategies for understanding written language.

Guided, repeated practice enables the child to apply what they have learned efficiently. Intensity (e.g. smaller group size, extended length of sessions and treatment, more individualized lessons) is what distinguishes dyslexia intervention from regular reading instruction. Take Flight: A Comprehensive Intervention for Students with Dyslexia is the most recent treatment developed by the Luke Waites Center for Dyslexia and Learning Disorders.