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20% (Part 1)

When we try to figure out how many people are actually dyslexic, it’s important to recognize that dyslexia isn’t just a matter of “yes or no”, but of “more or less”, and of “what kind”. As we’ve discussed, people with dyslexia show a range of findings, and the number of people who receive formal diagnoses will depend upon the tests we give them and the cutoffs and criteria we use.

In recent years, most research studies have put the number of dyslexic people between 5 and 20%. But we can give that number some extra context. In the United States, about 60% of children won’t learn fast and accurate decoding skills without explicit instruction in phonics. In other words, about two to four times as many children are “phonics dependent” as will qualify for a formal dyslexia diagnosis. This has important implications for how we think about dyslexia, as I’ll discuss in our next message.

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