Dyslexia is an impairment in a person’s ability to read, write, and spell. It is a common learning disability in children and lasts throughout life. The severity of dyslexia can vary from mild to severe.
The causes of dyslexia are neurobiological (having to do with the way the brain is formed and how it functions) and genetic (passed down through families). Dyslexia may also occur in people later in life due to other conditions, such as stroke.
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The only known risk factor is having a family member with dyslexia.
Symptoms may include difficulty in the following areas:
You will be asked about you or your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. It will include a hearing and vision test. You may then be referred to an expert in learning disabilities, such as a school psychologist, learning specialist, or neurologist (doctor who specializes in the nervous system) for additional testing.
Additional tests may be done. These may include:
Early identification and treatment of dyslexia can reduce its effects. The sooner children with dyslexia get special education services, the fewer problems they will have learning to read and write at grade level. Under US federal law, free testing and special education services are available for children in the public school system.
Most people with dyslexia need help from a teacher, tutor, or other trained professional. Talk with the doctor and learning specialist about the best treatment plan for you or your child. Treatment options include:
Remediation is a way of teaching that helps people with dyslexia to learn language skills. It uses the following concepts:
Compensatory strategies are ways to work-around the effects of dyslexia. They include:
Dyslexia cannot be prevented, especially if it runs in your family.
International Dyslexia Association
National Center for Learning Disabilities
Canadian Dyslexia Association
Dyslexia. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: http://www.kidshealth.org/kid/health_problems/learning_problem/dyslexia.html. Updated June 2015. Accessed February 16, 2018.
Dyslexia basics. International Dyslexia Association website. Available at: http://eida.org/dyslexia-basics. Accessed February 16, 2018.
Frequently asked questions about dyslexia. International Dyslexia Association website. Available at: http://eida.org/frequently-asked-questions-2. Accessed February 16, 2018.
Understanding dyslexia. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/learning/dyslexia.html. Updated June 2015. Accessed February 16, 2018.
Understanding dyslexia. Understood for Learning and Attention Issues website. Available at: https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/child-learning-disabilities/dyslexia/understanding-dyslexia. Accessed February 16, 2018.
Last reviewed February 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD Last Updated: 2/12/2016