Dyslexia is a learning disability that can hinder a person’s ability to read, write, and spell. It is a common learning disability in children and lasts throughout life. The severity of dyslexia can vary from mild to severe.
The causes of dyslexia are neurobiological (having to do with the way the brain is formed and how it functions) and genetic (passed down through families). Dyslexia may also occur due to other conditions, such as
Language Center of the Brain
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Having a family member with dyslexia.
Dyslexia may present as difficulty in the following areas:
Learning to speakReading and writing at grade levelOrganizing written and spoken languageLearning letters and their soundsLearning number factsSpellingLearning a foreign languageCorrectly doing math problems
Your doctor will ask about you or your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done (including hearing and vision tests). You may then be referred to an expert in learning disabilities, such as a school psychologist, learning specialist, or neurologist (doctor who specializes in the nervous system) for additional testing.
Your specialist may need additional tests. These may include: Cognitive processing tests (measure of thinking ability)IQ test (measure of intellectual functioning)Tests to measure speaking, reading, spelling, and writing skills
Most people with dyslexia need help from a teacher, tutor, or other trained professional. Talk with the doctor and learning specialist about the best treatment plan for you or your child. Treatment options include:
Remediation is a way of teaching that helps people with dyslexia to learn language skills. It uses the following concepts: Teach small amounts of information at a timeTeach the same concepts many times (“over-teaching”)Use all the senses—hearing, vision, voice, and touch—to enhance learning (multisensory reinforcement)
Compensatory strategies are ways to work-around the effects of dyslexia. They include: Audio taping classroom lessons, homework assignments, and textsUsing flashcardsSitting in the front of the classroomUsing a computer with spelling and grammar checksReceiving more time to complete homework or tests
There is little that can be done to prevent dyslexia, especially if it runs in your family. However, early identification and treatment can reduce its effects. The sooner children with dyslexia get special education services, the fewer problems they will have learning to read and write at grade level. Under US federal law, free testing and special education services are available for children in the public school system.
Frequently asked questions about dyslexia. International Dyslexia Association website. Available at:
http://www.interdys.org/FAQ.htm. Accessed January 2, 2013.
Last reviewed January 2013 by Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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