Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It has no relation to intelligence. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. It commonly affects word recognition, spelling, and the ability to match letters to sounds. Also called reading disability, dyslexia affects areas of the brain that process language.
The effects of dyslexia vary from person to person. People with the condition generally have trouble reading quickly and reading without making mistakes. They may also have trouble understanding what they read.
Kids with dyslexia often have normal vision and are just as smart as their peers. But they struggle more in school because it takes them longer to read. Trouble processing words can also make it hard to spell, write, and speak clearly.
Here are the three main types of dyslexia.
• Primary dyslexia
This is the most common type of dyslexia, and is a dysfunction of, rather than damage to, the left side of the brain (cerebral cortex) and does not change with age. There is variability in the severity of the disability for Individuals with this type of dyslexia, and most who receive an appropriate educational intervention will be academically successful throughout their lives. Primary dyslexia is passed in family lines through genes (hereditary) or through new genetic mutations and it is found more often in boys than in girls.
• Secondary or developmental dyslexia
This type of dyslexia is caused by problems with brain development during the early stages of fetal development. Developmental dyslexia diminishes as the child matures. It is also more common in boys.
• Trauma dyslexia
This type of dyslexia usually occurs after some form of brain trauma or injury to the area of the brain that controls reading and writing.
Other types of learning disability include:
• Visual dyslexia is sometimes used to refer to visual processing disorder, a condition in which the brain does not properly interpret visual signals.
• Auditory dyslexia has been used to refer to auditory processing disorder. Similar to visual processing disorder, there are problems with the brain’s processing of sounds and speech.
• Dysgraphia refers to the child’s difficulty holding and controlling a pencil so that the correct markings can be made on the paper.
The symptoms of dyslexia change with age.
▪︎ Before children enter school, they may show:
• delayed speech and vocabulary development
• difficulties in forming and choosing words, for example, by mixing up words with similar sounds
• problems retaining information, such as numbers, the alphabet, and the names of colors
▪︎ When children are school-aged, they may:
• have a low reading level for their age group
• have difficulties processing information and remembering sequences
• have trouble processing the sounds of unfamiliar words
• take longer with reading and writing
• avoid tasks that involve reading
▪︎ Teens and adults may:
• have difficulty reading aloud
• take longer to read and write
• have trouble with spelling
• mispronounce words
• have trouble recalling words for particular objects or topics
• have difficulties learning another language, memorizing text, and doing math
• find it hard to summarize a story
• Genes and Hereditary
Dyslexia tends to run in families. It appears to be linked to certain genes that affect how the brain processes reading and language, as well as risk factors in the environment.
• Brain anatomy and activity
Brain imaging studies have shown brain differences between people with and without dyslexia. These differences happen in areas of the brain involved with key reading skills. Those skills are knowing how sounds are represented in words, and recognizing what written words look like.
Risk factors –
Dyslexia risk factors include:
• A family history of dyslexia or other learning disabilities
• Premature birth or low birth weight
• Exposure during pregnancy to nicotine, drugs, alcohol or infection that may alter brain development in the fetus
• Individual differences in the parts of the brain that enable reading
Difficulties with processing language, spelling, or learning can make it harder for children to keep up with their class work and their peers. This can lead to discouragement, low self-esteem, and social problems. Some children might even act out as a way to cope with their frustration.
When adults don’t receive treatment for dyslexia, difficulties with spelling and literacy can cause problems in college and in the workplace. Students may have trouble with note taking and test taking, and employees might feel that dyslexia holds them back at work. This prevents some people from reaching their full potential both professionally and economically.
People with dyslexia often find ways to work around their disability, so no one will know they’re having trouble. This may save some embarrassment, but getting help could make school and reading easier. Most people are diagnosed as kids, but it’s not unusual for teens or even adults to be diagnosed.
A teen’s parents or teachers might suspect dyslexia if they notice many of these problems:
• poor reading skills, despite having normal intelligence
• poor spelling and writing skills
• trouble finishing assignments and tests within time limits
• difficulty remembering the right names for things
• trouble memorizing written lists and phone numbers
• problems with directions (telling right from left or up from down) or reading maps
• trouble getting through foreign language classes
Having one of these problems doesn’t mean a person has dyslexia. But someone who shows a few of these signs should be tested for the condition.
A physical exam, including hearing and vision tests, will be done to rule out any medical problems. Then a school psychologist or learning specialist should give several standardized tests to measure language, reading, spelling, and writing abilities. Sometimes a test of thinking ability (IQ test) is given.
There is no cure for dyslexia, but a range of approaches can help make daily tasks much easier.
Receiving a diagnosis and support early in life can have long-term benefits. Managing dyslexia in children may involve:
• An evaluation of individual needs: This helps teachers develop a targeted program for the child.
• Adapted learning tools: Children with dyslexia may benefit from learning tools that tap into their senses, such as touch, vision, and hearing.
• Guidance and support: Counseling can help minimize any effects on self-esteem. Other forms of support may involve, for example, granting extra time on exams.
• Ongoing evaluation: Adults with dyslexia may benefit from help with developing evolving coping strategies and identifying areas in which they would benefit from more support.
Some more tips for studying with dyslexia includes –
• employing time management strategies such as breaking up projects into smaller pieces and drafting an outline before starting a task
• using tools such as flash cards and text-to-voice technology
• organizing notes visually, using highlighters or a color-coding system
• working in a quiet, clear space — with earplugs or noise-canceling headphones if necessary — and keeping distractions to a minimum