Dyslexia is a learning disability that can hinder 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 due to other conditions, such as stroke.
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Your doctor will ask about you or your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done (including hearing and vision tests). 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.
Your specialist may need additional tests. These may include:
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:
There is little that can be done to prevent dyslexia, especially if it runs in your family. However, early identification and treatment 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.
International Dyslexia Association
National Center for Learning Disabilities
Canadian Dyslexia Association
Dyslexia. National Center for Learning Disabilities website. Available at: http://www.ncld.org/types-learning-disabilities/dyslexia. Accessed January 2, 2013.
Dyslexia. KidsHealth.org website. Available at: http://www.kidshea.... Updated July 2012. Accessed January 2, 2013.
Dyslexia basics. International Dyslexia Association website. Available at: http://www.interd.... Accessed January 2, 2013.
Frequently asked questions about dyslexia. International Dyslexia Association website. Available at: http://www.interdys.org/FAQ.htm. Accessed January 2, 2013.
Kids with dyslexia. KidsHealth.org website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/learning/dyslexia.html. Updated July 2012. Accessed January 2, 2013.
Understanding dyslexia. KidsHealth.org website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/teen/school_jobs/school/dyslexia.html. Updated July 2012. Accessed January 2, 2013.
Last reviewed January 2013 by Brian Randall, MD
Last Updated: 3/18/2013