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How Dyslexia Derails Learning


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Convinced he’s “not smart,” 6-year-old Nicolas from Hunterdon County identifies classmates by the costumes they wore on Halloween, and composes pictures instead of sentences in his writing journal.

Hayden, a 12-year-old from Hamilton, rattles off the era, eating habits, and physical descriptions of dinosaurs, but labors to read books about them. Hayden formerly couldn’t see the difference between adding numbers and multiplying them.

Daniel, 18, from Lawrenceville, has struggled with spelling since kindergarten and can’t solve basic math equations without a calculator.

These children are all highly intelligent, and all share another trait: dyslexia, a learning disability that affects reading, writing, and spelling, and often results in difficulties with sequencing and speaking.

“It really impairs them across the board,” says Audrey Mainzer, Hayden’s mom. “If you can’t read, you can’t really do anything.”

But “it’s definitely not a lack of intelligence,” says Dee Rosenberg, president of the New Jersey branch of the International Dyslexia Association (IDA). After all, Thomas Edison, Pablo Picasso, and Albert Einstein were all thought to have had dyslexia.

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