Dyslexia is a learning disability in which a person faces difficulty spelling and reading. It is also known as a developmental reading disorder. Unlike some other neurological disorders, dyslexia does not affect a person’s intelligence. People with dyslexia can function normally in various ways but have difficulty performing certain cognitive tasks. Dyslexia can affect individuals differently. Early diagnosis and management options can help reduce the problems caused by dyslexia.
Dyslexia is a disorder that tends to run in genetics. Positive family history of dyslexia can increase the probability of developing this disorder. Dyslexia is thought to occur due to an issue with the part of the brain involved in interpreting language. Dyslexia does not happen due to a vision or hearing problem, although it may be misunderstood as such in the earlier phase.
Dyslexia can also develop as a result of certain factors. These may include traumatic brain injury, dementia, or stroke. This kind is known as acquired dyslexia. It is far less common compared to hereditary dyslexia. Neither of these causes affects a person’s intelligence or ability to think. They are capable of processing normal to complex ideas and perform many regular tasks. The problem is explicitly related when it comes to reading or interpreting language.
A family history of dyslexia or other developmental disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can increase the risk of its occurrence in the future generation. Some factors regarding pregnancy may also affect the development of the fetus’s brain. These may include alcohol intake, drug abuse, smoking, infections, and use of certain medications. Premature or low birth weight babies may also be at risk. In adults, the risk of acquired dyslexia with higher if they suffer from a traumatic brain injury, stroke, or dementia.
Dyslexia is usually diagnosed at an age where a child is expected to engage in reading and related activities. So it is observed in school-going children. According to research, almost 5% to 9% of all school-going children have some degree of dyslexia in the United States.
The signs of dyslexia start to become apparent when a child begins reading and writing at school. Before school, some signs may be present, but they often go unnoticed. These may include difficulty in learning nursery rhymes, names of shapes, objects, and colors, and issues with pronouncing words that sound alike and talking slower than other kids of the same age.
In school, the signs and symptoms of dyslexia are noticed by a teacher first. The child is unable to read small or large passages of text. This can also vary with language. For example, a dyslexic child may face more difficulty reading Chinese text than English, even if they know Chinese. These children also find it difficult to formulate the right words to give answers or explain something. Spelling mistakes are often noticed in their written work. They have difficulty differentiating between letters that look alike, such as b and d. It is seen that they spend much more time on reading or writing tasks than other children. These symptoms can also progress into teenage and adulthood if not managed at an earlier stage.
Dyslexia is diagnosed on the basis of a detailed assessment that involves history and multiple tests. Your doctor will ask for the presence of a family history of dyslexia and other possible causes. The academic record of the affected child is noticed to look for signs of dyslexia. The teachers can also be asked about the child’s performance in class. After obtaining a detailed history, neurological and psychological tests determine a child’s reading and writing abilities. Vision and hearing tests can also rule out other possible causes. Your child may be given some reading, writing, or speaking activities to see how well they perform in them. The result of all these tests is utilized to diagnose dyslexia.
Dyslexia should be differentiated from other disorders and medical conditions that can cause neurological issues and difficulty with reading. These conditions can include dysgraphia, mental retardation, autism, pervasive developmental disorder, and primary language disorder. Dyslexia should not be confused with a slow learner as these are two different things. Detailed history and proper assessment can help in the accurate diagnosis of dyslexia.
There is no single treatment option that can reverse dyslexia. It is a problem that persists for a lifetime duration. But it can be improved to a remarkable extent with early diagnosis and management. The management of dyslexia often requires a multidisciplinary approach. Parents, teachers, psychologists, and therapists will be needed to educate and counsel the child. Multiple practices are used to improve a child’s reading and writing ability. These can include tracing a letter with a finger, reading aloud and slowly to understand words, differentiating between similar letters and words, etc. Your child may require an individual teacher or tutor who is willing to give enough time so the child can learn at their own pace. Many dyslexic children also develop secondary issues such as anxiety, depression, or some behavioral problems. They should also be addressed and treated by a psychologist or therapist.
Early diagnosis and specialized training can lead to a very good prognosis. Undiagnosed children may develop other psychological issues if they are scolded, repeated, or made fun of by others.
It is difficult to prevent dyslexia as it is a developmental disorder linked with genetics in most cases. Care should be taken during pregnancy to reduce the risk of neurological abnormalities. Avoid smoking, alcohol intake, and drug abuse during pregnancy.
Our clinical experts continually monitor the health and medical content posted on CURA4U, and we update our blogs and articles when new information becomes available. Last reviewed by Dr.Saad Zia on April 29th, 2023.