Dyslexia/ESL Information

Counselor Information

What is Dyslexia?

Texas Education Code (TEC) §38.003 defines dyslexia and related disorders in the following way:

“Dyslexia” means a disorder of constitutional origin manifested by a difficulty in learning to read, write, or spell, despite conventional instruction, adequate intelligence, and sociocultural opportunity. “Related disorders” include disorders similar to or related to dyslexia, such as developmental auditory imperception, dysphasia, specific developmental dyslexia, developmental dysgraphia, and developmental spelling disability.

TEC §38.003(d)(1)-(2) (1995) https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/ED/htm/ED.38.htm#38.003

International Dyslexia Association defines dyslexia as:

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.

Adopted by the International Dyslexia Association Board ofDirectors, November 12, 2002


Characteristics of Dyslexia: What to look for?

Students identified as having dyslexia typically experience primary difficulties in phonological awareness, including phonemic awareness and manipulation, single-word reading, reading fluency, and spelling. Consequences may include difficulties in reading comprehension and/or written expression. These difficulties in phonological awareness are unexpected for the student’s age and educational level and are not primarily the result of language difference factors. Additionally, there is often a family history of similar difficulties.

The following are the primary reading/spelling characteristics of dyslexia:

  • Difficulty reading words in isolation
  • Difficulty accurately decoding unfamiliar words
  • Difficulty with oral reading (slow, inaccurate, or labored without prosody)
  • Difficulty spelling

It is important to note that individuals demonstrate differences in degree of impairment and may not exhibit all the characteristics listed above.

The reading/spelling characteristics are most often associated with the following:

  • Segmenting, blending, and manipulating sounds in words (phonemic awareness)
  • Learning the names of letters and their associated sounds
  • Holding information about sounds and words in memory (phonologicalmemory)
  • Rapidly recalling the names of familiar objects, colors, or letters of the alphabet (rapidnaming)


Consequences of dyslexia may include the following:

  • Variable difficulty with aspects of reading comprehension
  • Variable difficulty with aspects of written language
  • Limited vocabulary growth due to reduced reading experiences

Sources for Characteristics and Consequences of Dyslexia Branum-Martin, L., Fletcher, J. M., & Stuebing, K. K. (2013). Classification and identification of reading and math disabilities: The special case of comorbidity. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 12, 906–915. Fletcher, J. M., Lyon, G. R., Fuchs, L. S., & Barnes, M. A. (2007). Learning disabilities: From identification to intervention. New York, NY: The Guilford Press. The International Dyslexia Association. (2018). Knowledge and practice standards for teachers of reading, (2nd ed.). Retrieved from https://app.box.com/s/21gdk2k1p3bnagdfz1xy0v98j5ytl1w. Moats, L. C., & Dakin, K. E. (2008). Basic facts about dyslexia and other reading problems. Baltimore, MD: The International Dyslexia Association.


Connecting Research and Practice

Research in understanding dyslexia as a neurodevelopmental disorder is ongoing. Future research will assist in learning more about the phonological awareness deficit and how this deficit interacts with other risk factors related to dyslexia. Research is now also focusing on the developmental cause of neural abnormalities and how these predict treatment response.

Pennington, B. F. (2009). Diagnosing learning disorders: A neuropsychological framework (2nd ed.). New York, NY: The Guilford Press. Peterson, R. L., & Pennington, B. F. (2012). Developmental dyslexia. The Lancet, 379(9830), 1997–2007.




MTA is an alternative language arts program specifically designed for students experiencing serious reading difficulty, including dyslexia. It is based on Orton-Gillingham philosophy and techniques, and follows the introduction sequence of Alphabetic Phonics. MTA was field tested for nine years in both public and private school settings before it was published. A four-year trend analysis study (Reynolds, V., Vickery, K., and Cochran, S., Annals of Dyslexia, 1987) looking at both reading and spelling in regular and remedial classrooms showed highly significant gains for all remedial students as well as gains for regular classroom students, some also at significant levels.

MTA is a comprehensive language arts program addressing the areas of alphabet/dictionary skills, reading, reading comprehension, cursive handwriting, and spelling. Guided discovery and multisensory techniques are utilized for introducing, reviewing, and practicing skills in the curriculum areas listed above. These techniques involve students as active participants in their own learning process. Criterion-referenced Mastery Checks are administered periodically throughout the curriculum. Mastery criteria are 90% for spelling and reading. MTA addresses all descriptors of appropriate dyslexia programs as described by the International Dyslexia Association, and those in the Texas Dyslexia Procedures. More information can be found at: About MTS.