What is Dyslexia?
Did you know that around two million people in the UK have a learning difficulty, such as dyslexia? On these pages you can look for help, and find out more about the Dyslexia Research Trust’s research and activities in this area.
Dyslexia is a condition in which an apparently bright child has an unexpected difficulty learning to read and spell. The underlying problem is impaired ability to accurately sequence and memorise visual and/or auditory symbols. So dyslexics have difficulty with remembering the visual form of words (orthography), particularly if these are irregularly spelt. Likewise they often have difficulty ordering the sounds in words properly (phonology). These sequencing weaknesses mean that they may also make mistakes in verb tenses, in timing, and in maths.
Many of these children complain that letters and words seem to blur, move about or break into two on the page or screen. Headaches and impaired sleeping can follow. These problems can’t be corrected by prescription glasses. Often also dyslexics have difficulty maintaining concentration and attention, overlapping with ADHD. Some dyslexics have problems with fine and gross motor control, with hand writing and with spatial awareness, overlapping with dyspraxia.
The crucial feature of dyslexia is discrepancy between general ability and reading and spelling. It is this failure to reach potential, for the child to be able to express his thoughts on paper, that identifies dyslexia, as opposed to general learning difficulty. Without appropriate treatment and teaching help, these bright children can lose all their self confidence, and their feeling of failure can blight their whole lives, not just in the class room.
There is a clear biological basis to dyslexia. It is independent of IQ or class. Dyslexia is found in all cultures and scripts except that reading is less important in the more primitive ones. More males than females are affected. About 50% of your reading skill is passed down to you via your parents’ genes. Its genetic basis leads to differences in the development of the brain including microscopic differences in the arrangement and connection of neurons. These tend particularly to involve visual and auditory 'magnocellular' systems which are specialised for rapid information processing. These genetic differences may be exacerbated by adverse nutrition particularly lack of fish oils during development of the brain.
- What causes dyslexia?
- What are the symptoms of dyslexia?
- At what age does dyslexia become a problem?
- Can dyslexia be cured?
- My child is dyslexic. How can I help?
- My husband is dyslexic. Will my daughter be dyslexic too?
- Can technology help?
- I've heard about colour filters. Can they help?
- I've heard about omega 3 fish oils. Can they help?
- What is involved in a dyslexia assessment?
- What can schools do to become more dyslexia friendly?
- Where can an adult get tested for dyslexia?
- Dyslexia - Facts & Figures
- Talented and famous dyslexics
- Dyslexia Checklist