Why We Should Stop Calling Dyslexia a Disability

If there is one curious thing about dyslexia, it is the fact that society still needs to be educated about it despite the enormity of literature on the subject. Assumptions about it persist. 

One of the most common misconceptions about dyslexia is that it is a learning disability rather than a specific learning difference. In reality, dyslexia is not a disability, so we should not be calling it such.

Dyslexia is not a disability

Dyslexia should not be categorized as a disability because it shows a difference in learning. Dyslexic people are intellectually capable.

At first, dyslexia was considered a disability because of what society thought it was. The 2002 definition by the International Dyslexia Association, as well as by numerous previous researches, assumed that dyslexia was caused by a neurobiological abnormality or disease, making it a “disability”.

However, recent scientific studies have shown no evidence of any neurobiological abnormalities in major cases of dyslexia. 

In fact, a 2018 article published by the Brain Sciences Journal noted that all relevant evidence gathered from neuroimaging studies only proved correlational differences.

These results only show that there are key differences in the subjects’ behaviour but that these do not provide any solid proof of a learning disability.

At the same time, dyslexia does not fit the definition of “disability”, which is referred to as a condition caused by an accident, trauma, genetics, or a disease that might limit or restrict a person’s mental, sensory, or mobility capabilities. 

In this regard,  dyslexia is not a disability as none of the aforementioned factors is associated with it.

Instead, dyslexia is defined as a difference in learning. A dyslexic person’s mental, sensory, or mobility functions work differently; they are not hindered by the condition. They still have the ability to read, write, and learn, albeit a bit differently than others. 

Consider when you were first taught to tie your own shoes. Some people learned to tie their shoes by reciting an old rhyme, some learned it by following instructions, while some simply figured things out on their own. 

It does not matter whether you have learned to do the loop-over-loop, bunny ears, or cross over to the hole. The results are the same:  the shoes are tied. 

This is the same with dyslexic people. They require a different way of learning, but with proper guidance, they still learn the same things that people normally do.

Dyslexic people are intellectually capable. Some of the successful dyslexics are Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, and Richard Branson. Despite their condition, their intellect enabled them to succeed in their respective fields. 

They prove that people with dyslexia can overcome the condition and have successful careers in their chosen fields if they have proper education and guidance.

Based on these reasons, it is only proper not to address dyslexia as a learning disability, dysfunctionality, or abnormality. 

Instead, dyslexia must be presented as a persistent learning difference that transcends conventional education or instructions, intelligence, and sociocultural opportunities.

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Dyslexia is a specific learning difference

Dyslexic students’ ways of learning to read and write are different from the way people would normally learn these skills. 

Dyslexia is more common than anyone would expect, so early detection is important. In some states like Victoria, the government is trying to have every child to undergo screening to detect dyslexia and any other learning difference before the child can start schooling. 

This early diagnosis enables parents and schools to prepare for the children’s education.

Generally, dyslexic students meet their needs with the use of different tools and resources. According to Australian surveys, at least 16% of students have learning difficulties and would need support that goes beyond what normal classrooms usually provide.

Furthermore, with primary school children, dyslexia gets a bit harder to classify, as they can fall into two categories: (1) those who are struggling but can excel if provided with the age-appropriate level of education; and (2) those who are still struggling despite the best and systematic classroom instructions.

Whatever category the students fall under, their teachers and schools must have a better understanding of them, so they can clearly identify the strategies or tools needed for the children to learn effectively. 


Dyslexia is a common condition, and it should be treated for what it is: a learning difference. It is also important to address it properly. Fortunately, there is an organisation developing the world’s first dyslexia assessment app that uses artificial intelligence Dystech.