Dyslexia

Dyslexia is a disorder characterized by difficulty reading in individuals with otherwise unaffected intelligence.

Different people are affected to different degrees. Problems may include difficulties in spelling words, reading quickly, writing words, “sounding out” words in the head, pronouncing words when reading aloud and understanding what one reads.

In early childhood, symptoms that correlate with a later diagnosis of dyslexia include delayed onset of speech and a lack of phonological awareness.

A common myth closely associates dyslexia with mirror writing and reading letters or words backwards. These behaviors are seen in many children as they learn to read and write, and are not considered to be defining characteristics of dyslexia.

School-age children with dyslexia may exhibit signs of difficulty in identifying or generating rhyming words, or counting the number of syllables in words–both of which depend on phonological awareness.

They may also show difficulty in segmenting words into individual sounds or may blend sounds when producing words, indicating reduced phonemic awareness.

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Problems persist into adolescence and adulthood and may include difficulties with summarizing stories, memorization, reading aloud, or learning foreign languages.

Adults with dyslexia can often read with good comprehension, though they tend to read more slowly than others without a learning difficulty and perform worse in spelling tests or when reading nonsense words–a measure of phonological awareness.

Dyslexia is believed to be caused by the interaction of genetic and environmental factors.  Some cases run in families. Dyslexia that develops due to a traumatic brain injury, stroke, or dementia is called “acquired dyslexia”.

The underlying mechanisms of dyslexia result from differences within the brain’s language processing. Dyslexia is diagnosed through a series of tests of memory, vision, spelling, and reading skills.

Dyslexia is separate from reading difficulties caused by hearing or vision problems or by insufficient teaching or opportunity to learn.

Treatment involves adjusting teaching methods to meet the person’s needs. While not curing the underlying problem, it may decrease the degree or impact of symptoms. Treatments targeting vision are not effective.

Dyslexia is the most common learning disability and occurs in all areas of the world. It affects 3–7% of the population; however, up to 20% of the general population may have some degree of symptoms.

While dyslexia is more often diagnosed in men, it has been suggested that it affects men and women equally.

Some believe that dyslexia should be best considered as a different way of learning, with both benefits and downsides.

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