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
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:
Cognitive processing tests—measure of thinking ability
IQ test—measure of intellectual functioning
Tests to measure speaking, reading, spelling, and writing skills
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:
Teach small amounts of information at a time
Teach the same concepts many times—a concept known as over-teaching
Use all the senses—hearing, vision, voice, and touch—to enhance learning (multisensory reinforcement)
Compensatory strategies are ways to work-around the effects of dyslexia. They include:
Audio taping classroom lessons, homework assignments, and texts
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 March 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated: 2/12/2016
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