Dyslexia is a neurological disorder condition that is lifelong and does not get better with age, although people do develop complex but effective coping strategies. The disorder affects individuals to 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. It 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 there is no cure for dyslexia, there are ways to help with treatment for this condition. Although it is frequently diagnosed in young children, it is not a condition that you grow out of, so adults can be diagnosed with dyslexia later in life.

What causes dyslexia?

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 of 2010:

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.

Dyslexia is a learning difference but it is not an intellectual disability. Dyslexia affects how the brain processes language. People with dyslexia frequently have trouble distinguishing between letters that are similar, like b and d, which can make reading difficult.

However, people with dyslexia are 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.

What are the signs of dyslexia?

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, rhythm/stress issues when reading aloud
  • trouble sounding out words when trying to read silently

What are the symptoms of dyslexia?

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.

Learning – having a dyslexic brain leads to difficulties with learning in a conventional way.

Physical resources that can be helpful to dysiexic individuals

  • Use a font that has been designed for dyslexic people.
  • Reading apps that have text-to-speech capabilities and can read text aloud
  • Coloured paper to remove the glare
  • Coloured overlays for computer screens
  • Smartpens that convert written text to typed
  • Automatic spell check