Reading is the key.

Without it, the instructions for playing Monopoly, the recipe for Grandma’s lasagna, “The Cat in the Hat,” the directions to the job interview, the Psalms, the lyrics to “Stairway to Heaven” – all these and a lifetime of other mysteries large and small may never be fully known.

So parents have reason for concern when a child or young adult has difficulty reading and, therefore, avoids it.

Dyslexia is a reading problem that is frequently undiagnosed or diagnosed late. But when identified early, treatments and strategies may be developed that can lessen the impact of dyslexia.

According to the International Dyslexia Association, dyslexia is neurological in origin and is characterized by difficulties with accurate or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and word-decoding abilities. These problems are usually caused by difficulty in matching word sounds with the written symbols (letters, syllables, words) that represent those sounds.

Dyslexia is not related to intelligence. People with dyslexia may be extraordinarily smart. Or not.

The consequences of dyslexia may include problems in reading comprehension and a diminished reading experience, which may in turn limit the growth of the reader’s vocabulary and the development of a body of knowledge. The consequences of a limited vocabulary and a general lack of knowledge may be serious and life-altering.

Though dyslexia cannot be cured, effective treatments have been developed and implemented for decades. Most school districts employ reading specialists who can provide diagnostic services and individual treatment plans. With patience and persistence, parents, teachers and readers can successfully manage dyslexia, minimizing its consequences.

However, once dyslexia has been diagnosed and treated, there is still no guarantee that the meaning of the “Stairway to Heaven” lyric, “If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow don’t be alarmed now, it’s just a spring clean for the May queen,” will ever be clear.

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