Dyslexia – Don’t call me stupid

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Dyslexia is a neurological disorder condition that is lifelong and does not get better with age, although people do develop complex coping strategies. The disorder affects individuals in varying degrees of severity.

Dyslexia is typically characterised by difficulty with spelling, reading words, and recognising words as they are sounded out. It often causes people to reverse letters in words or skip letters when writing. However, people with dyslexia are otherwise intelligent and creative thinkers, which may be why many individuals who are diagnosed with dyslexia grow up to be successful leaders in their chosen field.

Dyslexia  is the most common learning disability in the UK, affecting around 10% of children. The term ‘dyslexia’ was coined by Rudolf Berlin in 1887, who identified it as a specific language impairment. Although it is frequently diagnosed in young children, because it’s not a condition that you grow out of, adults can be diagnosed with dyslexia later in life.

The causes of dyslexia are complex and involve a combination of genetic, environmental, and neurobiological factors. The following has been gathered from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines (NICE, 2010).

Genetics:

Genes account for 75% of the risk of developing dyslexia. Dyslexia is associated with structural brain differences. These structural differences within the brain are affected by genes. The brain contains a lot of cells. A cell’s function is determined by the type of cell that it is, such as a neuron or glial cell. The genetic mutations in the DRD4 gene are associated with the neurotransmitter for dopamine and are the genetic cause of dyslexia.

The signs and symptoms

As already mentioned dyslexia is a reading disorder that affects how the brain processes language, which in turn affects one’s ability to read. Signs and symptoms of dyslexia include:

  • difficulty recognizing words or letters
  • misreading words or letters
  • seeing certain letters or words backwards
  • confusion with letter order, and rhythm/stress issues when reading aloud
  • trouble sounding out words when trying to read silently.

Spatial problems – Dyslexia is associated with problems in perceiving and/or processing spatial information. When looking at the page or screen, the brain is faced with a complex spatial problem.

Perception – Dyslexia is associated with problems in processing visual information in the brain. The visual information is processed in the occipital lobe of the brain, which is located in the back of the head. When processing spatial information and cognitive skills, the brain has to process the information separately from the rest of the brain. The brain is not able to view visual information as a whole.

Having a dyslexic brain leads to difficulties with learning in a conventional way. But this doesn’t mean that dyslexic individuals are not able to learn new skills. Dyslexic individuals are very skilled at finding creative ways to learn and should always be encouraged to share what learning style works best for them as each person is different.

Dyslexic individuals have many strengths that include but are not limited to:

  • Creativity
  • Good problem solvers
  • Can see the bigger picture
  • Great storytellers
  • Unorthodox ideas
  • Hard-working
  • Strong logical reasoning