What Is Dyslexia? How Does It Affect A Person?

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Dyslexia is a form of learning disability that affects a person’s ability to read and write. The cause of dyslexia is unknown, but it is believed to be caused by a fault in the wiring of the brain that controls the identification of letters and their linking to sounds. There is no cure for dyslexia, but there are various methods that can be used to work around it.

Reading is a complicated process. Our brain must perform a number of functions simultaneously. Even now, as you’re reading this article, your brain first needs to visually detect the letters, identify them, link them to the sound they produce, blend together the phonetics of the various letters to sound out the word, string words together to form sentences, and finally convert them into paragraphs. Phew! That alone is a long process, but our brain does this at an insanely fast speed so that we can read efficiently.

Dyslexia is a form of learning disability, although dyslexic people are not intellectually handicapped. Quite the opposite, actually.

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As I mentioned, dyslexia is a type of learning disability. The affected individual has trouble in reading and identifying letters. As you can expect, this leads to problems in writing, as well as reading. However, this is no reflection on their intellect; it is just that their traditional ability is affected, but not their understanding abilities.

Dyslexic people have trouble in identifying letters or linking them to their phonological sound. This affects their ability to read, write, link words together, understand rhyming words, etc. However, dyslexic people are usually more creative than the average person.

Even after extensive research, the cause of dyslexia hasn’t been determined. People have shown genetic inheritance of this issue, but other factors like environment, teaching methods, etc. can also play a role. There is some sort of fault in the wiring of their brain that controls the identification of letters and their linking to sounds, but the exact mechanism is still unknown.

Words appear in motion or blurred to a dyslexic person (Photo Credit : Wikimedia Commons)

Also Read: Mirror Writing In Children: Why Do Children Write Some Letters Backwards?

Signs And Symptoms Of Dyslexia

While it typically expresses itself from a young age, dyslexia is often hard to detect in younger children. These symptoms vary as the person grows up.

In Pre-schoolers

  • Delayed ability to talk
  • Improper pronunciation of words
  • Inability to grasp rhyming words
  • Pronouncing ‘teddy bear’ as ‘beddy tear’

However, one must keep in mind that every child is different, and they don’t need to develop the ability to talk properly at the same time. Also, these problems can be caused by a wide range of issues apart from dyslexia.

In School Children

As the child’s age progresses, the symptoms change. This is mainly because, as they grow older, they are expected to do a higher number of functions, such as writing and reading. Some of these altered symptoms include:

  • Inability to recognize letters and their sounds
  • Regularly mixing up the spellings of words
  • Confusing between similar-looking letters or numbers like ‘b’ and ‘d’ or ‘6’ and ‘9’
  • Complains of visual disturbances while reading – for instance, they may complain that the letters on the page are blurred, or that the figures are moving around.
  • Difficulty in learning things in a sequence, like the months of the year.
  • Difficulty in reading aloud
  • Expressing something orally, but having difficulty in doing so through writing
  • Slow writing speed
  • Poor handwriting
  • Difficulty in understanding large, unfamiliar words by using the method of breaking them down into smaller, familiar words.

In Adults

  • Difficulty reading
  • Inability to write proper letters, essays, etc. that express what they need to convey. However, this must not be confused with their inability to convey something. Dyslexic adults will be able to express the same thing orally, but they face difficulty when writing it down.
  • Avoidance of tasks that involve reading and writing
  • Difficulty in learning and revising for exams
  • Making spelling mistakes
  • Struggling to take accurate notes
  • Difficulty in remembering things like phone numbers, passwords, etc.
  • Usually very creative and intelligent

Thomas Edison
Thomas Edison was dyslexic (Photo Credit : Wikimedia Commons)

Also Read: Why Does It Require Schooling To Learn To Read, But Not To Speak?

Diagnosis And Treatment Of Dyslexia

Dyslexia, like a number of other disorders, doesn’t have a specific test. Its diagnosis is done by monitoring and identifying the various symptoms and disqualifying any other causes. For instance, if a child is having trouble in reading, possible causes like visual defects are first investigated.

This disorder can most easily be diagnosed during the school years, through a combined effort by teachers and parents. If a child is suspected to have dyslexia, it’s best to take then to a qualified doctor to carry out a proper check-up.

Dyslexia has no cure. However, various methods can be used to work around it, thus making life easier for the affected individual. Different methods of learning can be employed, such as reading out loud to the person, instead of making them read the text, or allowing the affected students to take their exams orally. Technological advancements have also led to the development of software and programs that make writing and reading easier for dyslexic people.

Dyslexic people are by no means intellectually inferior. In fact, some famous people like Leonardo da Vinci and Thomas Edison were dyslexic! This proves that this is certainly not a limiting factor in a person’s success, simply a challenge that must be overcome!

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References (click to expand)
  1. Dyslexia - Better Health Channel. betterhealth.vic.gov.au
  2. Dyslexia - NHS. The National Health Service
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About the Author

Mahak Jalan has a BSc degree in Zoology from Mumbai University in India. She loves animals, books and biology. She has a general assumption that everyone shares her enthusiasm about the human body! An introvert by nature, she finds solace in music and writing.