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A collage of brain imagery and text that includes the phonemes that make up the word dyslexia.
(Alborz Kamalizad
/
LAist)
Dyslexia In Southern California
The nation's most common learning disorder is thought to affect somewhere between 5% and 20% of the population. Researchers agree that with the proper interventions and instruction, the vast majority of students with dyslexia can learn to overcome academic challenges and rise to the reading level of their peers.

But getting there? That is where brain science, education, politics and money tangle into a knot of thorny questions. And while some states have moved forward with comprehensive programs to address dyslexia and improve reading instruction overall, California's approach has been slow and tentative.
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LAist’s education team wants to hear from you.

Are you a parent of a child with dyslexia, or dyslexic yourself? Do you teach or provide educational services to students with dyslexia? Share your story with us. We’ll read every response but will not share anything publicly without your permission.


Resources

Terms To Know
  • Dyslexia Terms

    • Phonemes: The smallest units of sound that make up words. For example, while the word “car” is spelled with the letters c-a-r, the phonemes involved are “/k/” and “ar,” or /kar/.
    • Phonological awareness: An individual’s awareness of and access to the sound structure of oral language. It is the understanding that spoken language can be divided into smaller units (i.e., words, syllables, and phonemes) and that those units can be identified and manipulated.
    • Phonological processing: The ability to understand, mentally store, retrieve and change speech sounds. Someone with a phonological processing deficit has a hard time segmenting written words into smaller parts.
    • Decoding: A skill used to break words down into syllables and phonemes.
    • Fluency: In reading, fluency refers to the ability to read a text accurately and quickly, focusing on comprehension instead of decoding.
    • Dyslexia: A learning condition that affects how a brain processes language, which usually manifests itself in difficulty reading. People with dyslexia often have trouble recognizing letters and understanding how combinations of letters create the sounds that make up our language.
    • Dyscalculia: A learning condition that affects a person’s ability to do math, and can make math take longer. Dyslexia can also affect math.
    • Dysgraphia: A learning condition that involves difficulty with writing — handwriting, typing, and spelling. Like dyscalculia, dysgraphia has a high rate of co-occurrence with dyslexia.
  • Education Terms

    • IDEA: The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Federal law that requires students with disabilities to have access to a “free and appropriate education,” including additional services or accommodations.
    • IEP: Individualized Education Plan. A plan developed by a support team to ensure that a child who has a disability identified under IDEA and who is attending an elementary or secondary educational institution receives their education in the least restrictive environment. Children receive a support team that also includes a child’s parents and at least one special education teacher and usually a general education teacher; a school district representative; and other various experts and representatives as necessary.
    • Specific learning disability (SLD): One of the 13 disability categories identified in the IDEA. If an individual has an SLD, it means they can have trouble understanding or using language, spoken or written, that may make it difficult to listen, read, write, spell or do mathematical calculations. Dyslexia qualifies as a specific learning disability.
    • Multi-Tiered Systems of Support: A series of gradually escalating responses to students struggling in class. This is an umbrella term for the many options for services available to school districts, and is focused on all students, not specifically students in special education.
    • Neurodiversity: The idea that all brains interact with the world differently, supporting the notion that there is no one “right” way of neurological thinking or behaving.
  • Sources: California Dyslexia Guidelines, U.S. Department of Education

Learn More About Dyslexia
  • I want to know more about dyslexia ...

    • California Dyslexia Guidelines — Comprehensive guide from the California Department of Education to help educators and parents identify, assess and support students with dyslexia.
    • International Dyslexia Association — membership-based organization that hosts conferences and workshops, and publishes self-assessments and fact sheets on everything from the neuroscience of dyslexia to how to apply for accommodations on college entrance exams. It also publishes some resources in Spanish.
    • International Dyslexia Association, Los Angeles Branch — hosts teacher trainings, conferences, and provides grants to support dyslexia programs in local schools. Published fact sheets on dyslexia in English and Spanish.
    • California Dyslexia Initiative Free Webinar Series— hosted by the Sacramento County Office of Education and funded by the California Department of Education. Also publishes professional development resources for teachers.
    • Learning Disabilities Association of America: Comprehensive informational resources for parents, educators, and adults. Recommendations for helpful apps, programs, and teaching materials. Also provides advice for folks who have just learned they might have a learning disability.
  • I want to know more about laws regarding dyslexia and special education ...

    • AB-1369: California Dyslexia Guidelines — under the guidelines, the state Superintendent of Public Instruction is required to provide technical assistance in implementing the guidelines to parents, teachers, school administrators and faculty members in teacher training programs.
    • SB-237: Dyslexia Risk Screening — this bill has not been passed.
    • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) — IDEA requires school districts to provide a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment for children with disabilities. The federal IDEA website has resources for families, including information on individualized education plans (IEPs) and dispute resolution.
  • I want to connect with other parents or dyslexia advocates ...

    • Disability Rights California — engages in legal and policy advocacy, and publishes resources for individuals with disabilities and their families.
    • Decoding Dyslexia CA Parent Support Groups— Decoding Dyslexia, a grassroots organization made up of families affected by dyslexia and educators, has parent support groups that meet regularly across California.
  • I want to go to college ...


SUPPORT & CREDITS

Reporting & Production: Julia Barajas, Mariana Dale, Robert Garrova, Adriana Pera, Jill Replogle, Kyle Stokes

Editors: Ross Brenneman, Rodrigo Cervantes

Illustrations: Ross Brenneman, Dan Carino, Alborz Kamalizad, Arantza Peña Popo

Production Support: Adriana Pera