Can dyslexia be outgrown

Question:

Will my child outgrow dyslexia?

Answer:

“Dyslexia” is a word used to describe a pattern of thinking and learning that is characteristic of the dyslexic person. It will not be “outgrown.”

However, there is no uniform standard on how to test for dyslexia, and testing often involves looking for specific academic weaknesses, such as difficulty performing phonetic tasks or reading.

Many educators still view dyslexia only as a weakness or disability. As a result they have not developed diagnostic tests that look for the talents and strengths that are typically also part of dyslexia. For that reason most educational testing for dyslexia is not really complete and may not be accurate.

While dyslexic children do not merely ‘outgrow’ their early learning problems, many do overcome them. Thus, the specific symptoms or problems identified early in life may no longer exist in adulthood, and therefore would not be measurable.

A dyslexia adult who has learned to read well is still dyslexic – but has acquired the skills that were once difficult. If the person performs well on a reading test, some testers might conclude that she is not dyslexic, but this merely reflects the limitations of such testing. The person’s overall style of thinking and learning has probably not changed.

(Answer by Abigail Marshall)

12 comments

  • Latisha

    My daughter was tested in 5th grade and noted to have dyslexia which I strongly suspected even earlier in her academic career. At that time, she did score a little high in the inattention range but at the time it was thought to be related to her dyslexia and not purely ADD/HD. She had to be re-tested as she is starting high school in the fall and they require repeat testing every 3 years. The psychologist now says she does not have a specific disorder in reading based on her scores for reading comprehension and essay composition; however, she is still scoring on the below average range and at a 6th grade level for pseudoword decoding, which is directly, in my opinion related to her dyslexia. I have also always suspected some level of inattention and they have now diagnosed her with ADHD based on this updated testing. She will still receive the same accommodations she did with her dyslexia diagnosis, but should I push further to actually have the diagnosis included in her report. This is very confusing to me. Thank you for any input you can provide.

  • eliza

    Hi, I was diagnosed as dyslexic when I was 7, and received support and could read comfortably by the time I was 11, I remember struggling and being an awful speller. I still have trouble spelling and especially with grammar and punctuation. But when I was 14 I wasn’t finishing any of my exams so we sought to extend the extra time I was already receiving. I was taken to be tested by a psychologist again and the results indicated I was not at risk of dyslexia one of the activities I did where I was reading made-up words indicated I could potentially have been dyslexic and the psychologist extended my exam time on these grounds. All throughout high school I received written assesments and exams back that showed me to have high grades in most criteria but failing grades for spelling and punctuation. I was recently speaking to a psychologist that told me because the test mostly indicated I wasn’t I probably didn’t have dyslexia. I know I have trouble with punctuation and often write sentences that don’t make sense. How could this be? if I know that I still struggle in these areas and it is evident in my school work why would a screening not diagnose me as dyslexic? Dyslexia runs in my family also.

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Eliza — the psychologist you spoke to is mistaken, and is echoing a common misconception about dyslexia. If you were dyslexic at age 7, you are dyslexic now — the difference is simply that as you grew you were able to overcome some early difficulties and acquire improved skills. It is possible for a small child to be misdiagnosed — but your persistent issues with spelling and punctuation (along with family history) make it clear that is not the case for you. I wrote a blog post very recently about this: https://blog.dyslexia.com/two-misleading-myths-about-dyslexia/

  • Libby summers

    I was tested for dyslexia in elementary school at the age of 8. I have received accommodations all through grade school through college. I am now 24 going through a program and to receive accommodations for dyslexia they want a current up to date (within 3 years) test done. Is this test needed? Does dyslexia go away?

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Dyslexia is difference in the way the brain perceives and processes information; it varies with the individual and while it evolves over time as the individual grows and experiences new things, it will not go away. But any and all of the academic limitations tied to dyslexia can be overcome with the tools and strategies geared to the individual’s learning needs. Since a formal “diagnosis” of dyslexia is not made based on how your brain processes information, but rather on how well (or poorly) you perform on tests of specific skills, the support and accommodations that a person was given at age 8 might not be appropriate or necessary for a 24-year-old. So that is why just about any college or university will want recent testing to establish a need for accommodations.

      I think the problem is that the label “dyslexia” can be used to mean two different things. The university will say that it is looking for a diagnosis, but what they really want is a measurement of current functional and skill level.

  • Joanna

    My 7 year old daughter did a dyslexia screener last year, it found that she had “mild dyslexia”. She recently did the same dyslexia screener and the result is that she is “severely dyslexic”. Is this common?

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      There is a difference between a screener and formal diagnostic testing. Screening tests are not designed to provide accurate measures, but rather to be used as a general guide. The difference in results from the same screener can simply reflect differences in the child’s ability to perform from one day to another, or from differences in scoring of the screener tied to the child’s age — or it can also reflect that the screener used is not particularly accurate.

      Have you tried our screener at https://www.testdyslexia.com/ ? Ours is somewhat different than others, because it is designed so that a parent can enter information based on their own observations, and it covers a broader array of traits that can be tied to dyslexia. It also provides results that are reflected as slight to moderate to severe, but it is broken down into various functional areas rather than simply tied to the label “dyslexia.”

  • anne

    hi, i had mild dyslexia when i was in elementary school (not sure where i placed the diagnosis results from years ago though), am currently in university but still struggling with writing/planning essays and paraphrasing etc. But able to do other things like tell time and differentiate between left and right now. Did a checklist online and had a score of 39 which states that i’m probably non-dyslexic (u have to score >45). So i’m confused and i feel like i need help in sch 🙁

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      I don’t think that online test you did is accurate. We have our own test at https://www.testdyslexia.com — if you try that you will see that we look at a broad array of traits and symptoms, and don’t try to give a numerical score. Dyslexia symptoms occur along a spectrum.

      It may be that your current symptoms aren’t strong enough to qualify for an official diagnosis — but that’s just a problem of where to draw the line. There really is no uniform criteria for diagnosis of dyslexia in any case.

  • Layla

    When I was in ES I VERY much so struggled to read, and was diagnosed as dyslexic. However, now I’m in high school and I’m a great reader. I’ve gotten English literature certificate awards for the past few years, and I’ve never gotten any formal help with my reading, because my parents were ashamed of my diagnosis. Is there a chance that I was never really dyslexic? Or is dyslexia something that can be overcome?

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      The problems with reading and writing tied to dyslexia can definitely be overcome — actually in a very short time with the right type of help. Dyslexia is not a problem with the ability to read and write — rather, it is a difficulty with the learning process to gain the skills. Dyslexics simply learn to read in a different way than typical students — the problem is that it’s pretty hard for a young person to figure that out on their own — most won’t, and those that do will not be able to read comfortably before at least age 11 or 12. So good for you! You are not alone, but it is still something to be proud of that you could do this on our own.

  • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

    Reversals in writing at age 4 are quite normal developmentally — it is one of many possible indications of dyslexia, but by itself is not significant.

    Because we live in a 3-dimensional world, the brain naturally develops the ability to recognize objects no matter which direction they are facing. This is called “mirror generalization” — in order to learn to work with letters and numbers, the brain actually has to develop ways to suppress this very natural process. Here is a blog post I wrote recently that provides more detail: https://blog.dyslexia.com/unflipping-the-letters/

    There are ways that you can help your granddaughter, but it’s much more important at this age to focus on skills that are developmentally appropriate. Here’s another article written many years ago by the late Sharon Pfeiffer, the developer of the Davis Learning Strategies school program, with some great suggestions: https://www.dyslexia.com/about-dyslexia/understanding-dyslexia/early-childhood-learning/

    An added benefit as that these suggestions are tied to fun and creative activities that a grandparent can share with a grandchild in a playful way.

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