The University of Iowa

Dyslexia

Girl in classroom with pen
With the proper support, children with dyslexia can experience reading and writing success.

The Iowa Reading Research Center is working to help children and their families affected by dyslexia, a widely misunderstood learning disability that is the most common cause of reading, writing, and spelling difficulties.  

Dyslexia Defined

“Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.” — International Dyslexia Association 

  • Dyslexia is not a disease but a language-based learning disability of biological origin, which can persist into adolescence and adulthood (Bell & Bowlin, 2011). 
  • Neuroimaging has documented different patterns of brain activation in individuals with dyslexia that are different from those who may experience other types of reading difficulties, such as those who struggle with reading comprehension alone.  
  • Dyslexia also is impacted by the learning environment to which children are exposed.
  • There is a higher prevalence of dyslexia in some populations such as families with a history of dyslexia and individuals in the penal system. 

Dyslexia Work at the Iowa Reading Research Center

eLearning Module

The Iowa Reading Research Center offers an eLearning Dyslexia Overview module, free to all Iowa residents and a small fee for everyone else. This module provides important baseline knowledge about dyslexia by debunking myths, exploring neurobiological factors, showing how to recognize potential signs of dyslexia, and looking at features of instruction for students with dyslexia. 

Assistive Technology Consultation Appointments for Families

The Iowa Reading Research Center offers in-person and virtual assistive technology consultation appointments for families of children with dyslexia and other reading disabilities. Assistive technology supports the learning of those with dyslexia. 

Dyslexia Specialist Endorsement

The Iowa Reading Research Center is coordinating an endorsement program for Iowa teachers to become dyslexia specialists. See our Dyslexia Specialist Endorsement page for more information.

Involvement With Iowa Legislation Regarding Dyslexia

Enacted in 2016, Senate File 2196 required that all pre-service teachers be prepared to teach all students, including those with reading disabilities such as dyslexia. The Iowa Reading Research Center provides the training to prepare pre-service teachers through the eLearning Dyslexia Overview module

In 2020, the Iowa legislature passed and the governor signed Senate File 2356. This important legislation brings more education, training, and awareness of dyslexia to all educators. In addition to a requirement for all in-service educators to take the Iowa Reading Research Center’s eLearning Dyslexia Overview module, the IRRC is playing a central role in other parts of the legislation.

The Iowa Reading Research Center also is committed to providing quality information on dyslexia. Please find additional information on the following topics.   

Dyslexia and Families

Tips and information for families.

Dyslexia and Educators

Information and things to think about for educators.

Dyslexia and Policymakers

Considerations for elected officials and other policymakers.

Dyslexia and Researchers

A brief rundown of the state of dyslexia research.

References

Bell S. M., & Bowlin T. (2011) Dyslexia. In: Goldstein S., Naglieri J. A. (eds) Encyclopedia of child behavior and development. Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-79061-9_914