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NIH MedlinePlus the Magazine, Trusted Health Information from the National Institutes of Health

Feature:
Dyslexia

What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia specifically impairs a person's ability to read.

Individuals typically read at significantly lower levels than expected despite having normal intelligence. Although it varies from person to person, people with dyslexia have difficulty with sound processing, spelling, and/or rapid visual-verbal responding. Adult onset of dyslexia usually results from brain injury or dementia; this contrasts with those with dyslexia who simply were never identified as children or adolescents.

Dyslexia can be inherited in some families. Recent studies have identified a number of genes that may predispose an individual to developing dyslexia.

Dyslexia Symptoms

People with dyslexia often show:

  • Difficulty and slowness in reading words
  • Difficulty understanding text that is read (poor comprehension)
  • Problems with spelling
  • Delayed speech (learning to talk later than most other children)
  • Difficulty with rhyming

What Is the Prognosis?

For those with dyslexia, the prognosis is mixed. The disability affects such a wide range of people and produces such different symptoms and varying severity that predictions are hard to make. Prognosis is generally good, however, for individuals whose dyslexia is identified early, who have supportive family and friends and a strong self-image, and who are involved in proper remediation.

Treating Dyslexia

The main focus of treatment should be on a person's specific learning problems, typically by modifying the teaching environment and methods.

  • Special teaching techniques. The use of explicit, systematic instruction to teach and directly support children's efforts to learn to read and recognize words. This occurs over time.
  • Classroom modifications. For example, teachers can give students with dyslexia extra time to finish tasks and provide taped tests that allow the child to hear the questions instead of reading them.
  • Use of technology. Children with dyslexia may benefit from listening to books on tape or using word-processing programs with spell-check features.

Winter 2016 Issue: Volume 10 Number 4 Page 20