Everything You Wanted to Know About Dyslexia…
But Didn’t Know to Ask

By Phyllis Books, DC, CCN, DACBN
Dyslexia and Learning Disability Exert

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or continue reading below.

HI. I’m Dr. Phyllis Books and I’d like to save you a lot of time by pointing out some of hidden facts about dyslexia. It’s hard to get accurate information in the subject of dyslexia.

In the next pages, I’ll be giving you the Cliff Notes version of my 35 years of experience in what dyslexia is and isn’t and what’s realistic for you or your child.

Shall we begin?

Dyslexia is tricky and hard to define. That’s one of the reasons it’s been so hard to find help.

  • The symptoms for dyslexia can vary from day to day.
  • Just when you thought you had the main issues identified, it can show up somewhere else.
  • Dyslexia includes reading problems…but it’s much more than reading.

The Traditional Definition of Dyslexia (notice the last phrase but don’t’ believe it!)

International Dyslexia Association:
Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability. Dyslexia refers to a cluster of symptoms, which results in people having difficulties with specific language skills, particularly reading. Students with dyslexia usually experience difficulties with other language skills such as spelling, writing and pronouncing words. Dyslexia affects individuals throughout their lives.

Dr. Book’s New Way of Defining Dyslexia

Dyslexia Spectrum Syndrome:

A brain timing and synchronization issue, neurobiological in origin, which can affect brain processing speed and efficiency. Dyslexia may affect reading, spelling, handwriting, math, auditory processing, problem solving, confusing right and left, balance and physical coordination. Once thought to be a permanent condition, new science and neuroplasticity shows brains can change throughout a lifetime thereby making it possible for dyslexia become a temporary condition.

The GOOD NEWS to shout from the rooftops:

Many neurological conditions, such as dyslexia, ADHD, sensory processing disorders, etc. can be rewired in the brain and body. Dyslexia does not have to be a life sentence.

Here’s a breakdown of how dyslexia
can show up at different stages of life:

Younger than 5 years old

  • Developmental delays such as walking or talking late
  • Difficulty with fine motor skills; clumsy, even in familiar surroundings
  • Trouble telling a story familiar to him or her, often looking to adult to help find the right words
  • Slow to pick up new concepts or ideas, such as learning numbers or colors
  • Confusion or difficulty recalling something just learned

Dyslexia Symptoms at Home

  • Deny hearing the beginning or middle of a long speech
  • Give slow or delayed responses
  • Have a hard time finding the right word to say
  • Have difficulty recounting a story in the correct order of events
  • Have trouble remembering numbers
  • Have trouble telling time
  • Often misunderstand what is said
  • Request at information be repeated
  • Show a reluctance to talk
  • Use imprecise words or phrases

Dyslexia Symptoms at School

  • Do poorly in noisy situation
  • Exhibit unexplained behavioral problems
  • Difficulty reading or spelling
  • Difficulty putting thoughts on paper
  • Problems with math
  • Problems with handwriting
  • Problems remembering or following oral instructions
  • Problems with word problems in math
  • Struggle with ambiguous language, idioms or homonyms
  • Substitute the right answer with a different one
  • Hard to develop ideas in written work
  • Hard to prepare an outline for written work
  • Hard to stay on topic and getting to the point

Dyslexia Symptoms in Daily Life – Difficulty With

  • Avoiding running into objects
  • Catching or throwing a ball
  • Knowing right from left
  • Organizing living spaces
  • Picking up small objects
  • Prioritizing tasks
  • Understanding directional signs
  • Walking smoothly
  • Making and keeping friends
  • Consistency
  • Reading just for pleasure
  • Emotional ups and downs

HIDDEN Dyslexia Criteria –that have little to do with reading

  • Do you confuse right and left? Or get lost easily?
  • Do you ask people to repeat themselves a lot?
  • Do you have trouble carrying out multiple instructions?
  • Do you have any eye-hand coordination problems (handwriting, depth perception, catching a ball)
  • Do you have difficulty making decisions?
  • Do you have low self-esteem?
  • Do you have difficulty with reading, writing or math?
  • Do you have poor motor skills (clumsy or accident prone)
  • Do you confuse or reverse instructions?
  • Do you have difficulty comprehending and retaining reading material?

Multiple clues that Dyslexia is present – at any age

  • Reading (e.g. slowly, eye wanders, eyes get tired quickly, etc.)
  • Remembering what you read
  • Spelling
  • Vision
  • Seeing colors (color blindness; seeing colors more vividly in one eye)
  • Concentration
  • Hyperactivity
  • Sports/motor coordination (e.g. running, throwing a ball)
  • Dizziness/vertigo
  • Clumsy or accident prone
  • Being rebellious/class clown/withdrawn
  • Following instructions
  • Following multiple instructions given at one time
  • Reversing numbers or letters
  • Memory
  • Self esteem
  • Remembering to turn in assignments
  • Completing assignments/tasks
  • Saying what you really mean
  • Getting lost easily
  • Confusing left and right
  • Getting along with other children
  • Getting along with other adults
  • Getting along with authority figures (teachers, bosses, etc.)
  • Bedwetting
  • Stuttering (now or in the past)
  • Inconsistency in academic tests and achievements
  • Frequently ask someone to repeat what they just said
  • Have you ever fallen on your head or your tail bone?
  • Allergies

Dyslexia Symptoms in Adults (no grades involved here!)

  • May ask others to help with spelling
  • Avoids reading and writing
  • May hide reading problems or have others do their reading
  • Often have great “people skills”
  • May be great at spatial relationship and seeing “out of the box” solutions
  • Takes a lot of effort to look like everyone else
  • Energy levels inconsistent (takes longer to complete many tasks)

Dyslexia Symptoms in the Workplace

  • Chronic boredom
  • Chronic lateness and forgetfulness
  • Difficulty concentrating when reading
  • Difficulty controlling anger
  • Employment problems
  • Impulsiveness
  • Low frustration tolerance
  • Low self-esteem
  • Poor organization skills
  • Procrastination
  • Peer/Relationship issues

RELATED DIAGNOSES: Many times, if there is one possible diagnosis, there are others also being considered.

Symptoms of Dyscalculia (problems with math)

  • Absentmindedness
  • Difficulty grasping concepts of formal music education, such as sight-reading musical notation and learning fingering on an instrument
  • Difficulty visualizing mechanical processes
  • Difficulty with abstract concepts like time and direction
  • Poor name and face retrieval
  • Problems with money, credit, financial planning, budgeting, balancing a checkbook, as well as fear of money and cash transactions
  • Trouble following rules in sports and keeping score of games
  • Trouble grasping and remembering math concepts, rules, formulas, sequences, and basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, trouble recalling schedule and sequences of past or future events.

Symptoms of Dysgraphia: (handwriting)

  • Keeping a tight grip on the pen or pencil and holding it very close to the paper
  • Leaving out words in sentences
  • Omitting the ends of words
  • Saying aloud the word that is being written
  • Spelling the same word in a number of different ways
  • Taking a long time to write

Symptoms of Dyspraxia and Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

  • Difficulty listening
  • Problems processing information
  • Weaknesses in comprehension
  • Delays in speech, language and motor skills
  • Often overly sensitive to touch, noise and scents

ADHD/ADD overview
(25-50% of the time, if there is dyslexia, there is also ADHD and vice versa)

3 main characteristics of ADHD:

  1. Inability to concentrate
  2. Impulsive
  3. Distractible

ADHD Symptoms:

  • Appearing not to listen
  • Displaying an inability to stay organized
  • Getting bored before a task is completed
  • Having difficulty remembering instructions
  • Ignoring details
  • Making careless mistakes
  • Constantly fidgets and squires
  • Has difficulty playing quietly or relaxing
  • Talks excessively
  • Cannot wait for a turn while playing a game
  • Frequently blurts out answers in class
  • Guesses the answer to a problem rather than taking the time to solve it
  • Often interrupts others, intrudes on other people’s conversations

Psychological and Emotional Issues that Often Accompany Dyslexia:

  • Withdrawal
  • Situation depression
  • Anger and aggression
  • Self-destructive behavior
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Fear and anxiety
  • Role Playing

How Unhealed Dyslexia and ADHD Shows up in Young Adults

(Preparing to deal with 21st century issues is going to require skill sets and mindsets that are new to mankind. Your brain needs to be upgraded, free from old programs that didn’t work so well for you or are just plain outdated.)

  • Lost? Trying to find your way in the world?
  • Gaming additions? Other additions?
  • Social anxiety?
  • Sleep Issues?
  • Depression?
  • Anger issues?
  • Too isolated?
  • Lost your motivation?
  • ADHD (Unfocused? Impulsive? Lack of Follow Through?)
  • Don’t handle rejection well (vs persistence in the job search)?
  • Wondering about the meaning of life/making sense out of life?
  • Want to score higher on college entrance exams/ SAT scores? GREs?
  • Want to make good decisions for your future?

Related Issues that affect all ages:

Symptoms of Unhealed trauma:

  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Edginess and agitation
  • Aches and pains
  • Losing your edge
  • Loss of joy and motivation

Post- Concussion syndrome complaints:

  • Headaches/migraines
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Impaired attention and/or concentration
  • Decision making problems
  • Dizziness/vertigo
  • Loss of sex drive


Let’s face it. The people who create the most noise and disruption get everyone’s attention. But what about the silent ones?

Many children hide their learning problem behind shyness or quietness. They figure out if they do not raise their hands the teacher will not notice them. The teacher is too busy trying to handle all those outspoken, noisy kids. They smile at the teacher and “make nice.” They might even bring the old “apple for the teacher” and offer to do helpful things for her.  What teacher wouldn’t like that?  This child lowers his eyes during reading so the teacher won’t call on him. And he is relieved that he can get through school and no one ever suspects that he has a learning problem.

A person with undiagnosed learning problems will, when grown, choose a quiet profession, one that will not expose his difficulty. Had the teacher or parent been skilled or savvy in detecting this hidden problem, this person could have come out of his self-imposed closet and let his talents shine for the entire world to see. How many potential doctors, healers, artists are still stuck in the closet in a profession that lets them “get by.” Who loses when a person is operating at less than a hundred percent of his potential? We all lose. He loses, his family loses, and society loses.


 There are lots of opinions and beliefs around dyslexia that just aren’t true. Let’s look at these:

MYTH: Your child might grow out of being dyslexic or having other learning differences.

TRUTH: I used to hear that so frequently from medical doctors—the pat answer of “given time he’ll grow out of it.” Meanwhile you have lost precious time because learning starts long before school. And if a child has lots of ear infections and starts walking before crawling we know that his learning is going to be affected. Your child is too important to chance it. Instinctively, does your gut tell you this is the case—that your son or daughter will grow out of this problem? Your gut instincts are much more important than some authority, most of whom change their minds over time anyway.

MYTH: Dyslexia runs in our family, there’s nothing I can do about it.

TRUTH: One of the questions I often ask a client is to bring in the baby pictures. Then, the other question is, who else in your family looks like you? Because a lot of the same physical structures indicate that the same learning problems are occurring for other family members. And just because it’s hereditary, doesn’t mean it’s not changeable. (See section on Neuroplasticity in Chapter 3.)

MYTH: All this talk about the link between nutrition and the brain is nonsense. There is no scientific basis for believing that sugar and processed foods are a problem for my child.

TRUTH: In medical school, doctors have, at most, one to three hours of nutritional training so they simply may not be aware of the vital link food plays in the development and maintenance of the “normal” brain. Studies in juvenile detention homes and how food affected their behavior dramatically illustrate this fact.4 There is a strong link between what a child eats and how the brain responds.

MYTH:  All vitamins are the same

TRUTH:  Sorry, but not all vitamins are the same. And this is one place in life where you get what you pay for. No cheap alternatives; no knock-off brands. As I’ll explain in the nutrition chapter, organic food costs more than non-organic, but it has more than twice the amount of nutrition. Same story here.  If you’re going to go to the trouble of buying vitamins and taking them, you might as well take some that will actually be absorbed.

MYTH: All children learn the same way.

TRUTH:  Another factor implicated in labeling children today as “learning disabled,” but what is often overlooked, concerns a child’s primary learning style. Does he prefer to take in information auditorily (listening), visually (seeing) or kinesthetically (through movement and demonstration)? Also, from a personality standpoint, is he an introvert (meaning he likes people but is equally comfortable alone) or an extrovert (he needs people around him a lot)? Learning your child’s natural learning style can save you lots of headaches when trying to match up schools and teaching styles for your child.  All children want to do well, in my experience, but it can be extremely demoralizing to have to sit in a classroom for hours on end without ever being asked or encouraged to do those things you are most naturally suited to doing. As adults, we can leave or find another job that is more suited to our talents. Sadly, our children don’t have those rights yet.

MYTH:  I turned out okay.  And the teachers said a lot of the same things about me.

TRUTH: The world is a different place today: kids don’t play outside as much, which brings them back into balance naturally; kids don’t interact with each other the way they used to (resolve their own disagreements, be creative, and use their active imaginations). Today’s learning is much more passive— in front of the TV, in videogames where information is sent in, but not necessarily processed.

Plus the levels of toxins in our environment is higher (eighty thousand new toxins compared to twenty years ago, and kids are born with already-compromised immune systems from the toxins in Mom’s umbilical cord (more than two hundred toxins on average).  Plus, food comes from depleted soil, so less nutrition is in the food, and then, on top of all that, now we have genetically modified food so that the body is deceived and has to work in ways your body never had to years ago.

My second comment here is: so many times these traits are handed down from generation to generation. Only now those little neurological deficits are magnified from all the new toxic exposures and new electrical upgrades that our human bodies haven’t adapted to. So the world your child is growing up in is different. One of the great things about human beings is our ability to adapt to new environments.  So even though things appear worse, there are still excellent solutions available.

MYTH: Learning is supposed to be hard; maybe my child is just lazy or not trying hard enough.

TRUTH: My mother, a teacher, used to tell me that you can’t learn and laugh at the same time. Quite the contrary. With laughter, information goes straight into the brain, it doesn’t go through a filter system—information is taken in without being questioned. Play actually un-inhibits the brain—takes away some of the inhibition sections so that a child can learn much more easily. As Dr. Stuart Brown identifies in Play, “Learning and memory also seem to be fixed more strongly and last longer when learned in play.” He goes on to quote psychologist Stephen Siviy, who works with Dr. Brown at the National Institute for Play Science, who says, “Play just lights everything up.”5  It does that for humans too—physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

MYTH: If my child’s performance is on one day and off the next,  its probably an attitude problem and not a learning problem.

TRUTH:  When your child could do a math problem one day or even five minutes ago, and then can’t replicate it, it looks as if he’s being uncooperative or difficult. Same thing when he understood the directions yesterday and yet today he doesn’t know what you’re talking about. Frustrating to you as a parent, frustrating to the teacher, and frustrating to your child who honestly doesn’t know why he doesn’t know why this is happening. What’s going on here is a neurological issue; it only becomes behavioral if the teacher or parent doesn’t understand what is happening to the child’s brain.

Here’s what’s going on “on the inside” that makes him look inconsistent:   The information from one side of the body is processed by the opposite side of the brain. The decussatation or “switching”—think of train tracks—isn’t working correctly. So the information sometimes goes to the opposite side of the brain, the way it should, and sometimes it goes to the same side of the brain. Your child honestly doesn’t have access to the same information he did before.  It got derailed. This “neurological switching” is very correctable.


Do you see why it is so confusing to find out what is really going on with your child?  There are many factors that may contribute to your child’s dilemma, and addressing one without addressing the others will only lead to more confusion and disappointment.  The “old” ways of looking at dyslexia can actually cause pain and loss of hope.

The Big Takeaway: There is hope and there is help for dyslexia.

Dyslexia need not be a life sentence. With the right help, it can be dissolved and real gifts can come forward.

I’ve been working with children and adults with dyslexia for 35 years, and we have an 85% success rate helping improve and in many cases, actually REVERSING dyslexia.

We have several programs available…from 5 days to 10 weeks. Please call our office 512-331-0668 or email us at: drbooks@drphyllisbooks.com  for a free Strategy Session to see if we can help you or your child’s future be so bright you have to wear sunglasses to be around him/her!

Every child deserves the right to live a full and good life.