Fact sheet: 14 dyslexia facts and figures


1. Dyslexia is a specific brain/neurology difference[1] that makes it extremely difficult to read, write and spell in your native language — despite at least average intelligence[2]

2. Dyslexia runs in families and can affect anyone no matter their sex, race or socioeconomic status; dyslexia was first identified more than 100 years ago[3]

3. Children don’t ‘out-grow’ dyslexia. Support at home and at school is essential to helping children build on their strengths and be successful in life[4]

4. Dyslexia is the most common learning disability (about 80% of all people identified with a learning disability are dyslexic)[5]; an estimated 6% to 17%[6] of the school age population has dyslexia

5. Learning disabilities are the most common types of disabilities among youth (15 to 24 years old) in Canada; in 2017, Statistics Canada reports that at least 1 in 15 youth in Canada reports having a learning disability[7]

6. In Ontario, students with learning disabilities are the largest category of exceptionality (more than 40%)[8] [9], yet few children with dyslexia receive the early identification and intervention that they require

7. Students with dyslexia are smart and can learn to read with the right support; however they continue to show very sizeable education achievement gaps and outcomes in comparison with neurotypical students in Ontario[10]

  • the 2019 EQAO shows that only 53% of grade 3 students in special education met the provincial literacy standard in Grade 3 (compared to 74% for non-special education students)[11]

  • in the grade 10 applied stream, where many struggling readers are found, only 41% of students met the provincial literacy standard (which is 50 percentage points lower than that of students in the academic stream)

8. Research into the reading brain[12] provides clear evidence that:

  • a structured literacy approach is effective for teaching children with dyslexia, and benefits all students[13]
  • early identification (preferably in kindergarten[14]) and intervention (preferably before the end of grade) works best, takes less time and produces better results;[15] however, most children in Ontario are not typically formally diagnosed until grade 3 (and sometimes not at all)

9. Literacy is a critical skill. Children who don’t learn to read proficiently are more likely to struggle in other areas of their education, feel less capable than they actually are, and suffer from low self-esteem, depression and anxiety[17] [18]

10. People with learning differences such as dyslexia are more likely to drop out of school, be underemployed and unemployed, and face mental health challenges[19]

11. Research from the Literacy and Policing Project indicates that 65% of our incarcerated population in Canada reads at less than a grade 8 level of literacy[20]

12. If the barrier to learning to read, the foundation for all learning, is not removed, the high personal and social costs to Ontario will continue to escalate[21]

13. October is Dyslexia Awareness Month around the world; October 4 is Dyslexia Awareness Day[22]

14. Dyslexic role models abound[23]: Canadian MPP Paul Dewar, NHL Defenceman Brent Sopel and space scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock[24] [25]


[1] https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Dyslexia-Information-Page

[2] https://www.decodingdyslexiaon.org/what-is-dyslexia/

[3] https://dyslexiahistory.web.ox.ac.uk/

[4]http://dyslexia.yale.edu/dyslexia/what-is-dyslexia/

[5] https://books.google.com/books/about/WISC_V.html?id=59aEDwAAQBAJ (page 337)

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3079378 (J. Fletcher et al, 2007, p. 105)

[7] https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/181128/dq181128a-eng.htm

[8] http://www.ldao.ca/introduction-to-ldsadhd/articles/about-lds/learning-disabilities-statistics/

[9] http://www.ldao.ca/wp-content/uploads/Special-Education-Overview-Oct-2014.pdf (page 6, 15)

[10] http://www.eqao.com/en/assessments/results/communication-docs/provincial-report-highlights-literacy-2019.pdf

[11] Highlights of the Provincial Results, English-Language Students, 2018–2019, EQAO

http://www.eqao.com/en/assessments/results/communication-docs/provincial-report-highlights-literacy-2019.pdf

[12] Dyslexia and the brain, video https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/child-learning-disabilities/dyslexia/video-dyslexia-and-the-brain

[13] https://www.idaontario.com/effective-reading-instruction/

[14]  Ontario Psychologist Association (page 22) http://www.psych.on.ca/getattachment/37646d71-1469-4731-a3c6-55a458a8238f/OPA-Guidelines-for-Diagnosis-and-Assessment-of-Learning-Disabilities-Sept-7-2018-(1)-1.pdf.aspx?ext=.pdffbclid=IwAR2hBhizK3LBXldQq5h1M7ZlW0gxfO_PW8-zsfgk6bBN3icUImMHyin-Jy0

[15] Harvard Graduate School of Education https://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/uk/16/06/fixing-failure-model and Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity https://dyslexia.yale.edu/dyslexia/signs-of-dyslexia/

[16] https://www.readingrockets.org/teaching/experts/nadine-gaab

[17]http://dyslexiahelp.umich.edu/parents/living-with-dyslexia/home/social-emotional-challenges/what-does-dyslexic-person-feel

[18] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3529660/

[19] https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/89-628-x/2009014/fs-fi/fs-fi-eng.htm

[20] http://en.copian.ca/library/research/police/factsheets/factsheets.pdf

[21]https://www.td.com/document/PDF/economics/special/CanadaLiteracyAndNumeracyChallengeWorsens.pdf

[22] https://dyslexiaida.org/october-is-dyslexia-awareness-month-2/

[23] https://www.decodingdyslexiaon.org/dyslexia-facts/famous-people-with-dyslexia/

[24] http://dyslexia.yale.edu/success-stories/

[25] https://www.theplayerstribune.com/en-us/articles/brent-sopel-dyslexia-dysgraphia-nhl, https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/ndp-hopeful-paul-dewar-shaped-by-his-dyslexia-1.1073997, https://dyslexia.yale.edu/story/maggie-aderin-pocock-ph-d/

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