What is dyslexia and how do dyslexics differ

Research Brief 189168:

What is dyslexia and how do dyslexics differ from other kids with reading troubles?

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The term ‘dyslexia’ is from Grecian and can be literally translated as intending ‘non-reading’ . Early positions of dyslexia are many, with James Hinshelwood ( 1917 ) [ 1 ] , a Scots oculus sawbones mentioning to it as ‘word-blindness’ and Samuel Orton ( 1937 ) [ 2 ] , an American brain doctor, terming it ‘strephosymbolia’ , i.e. symbol writhing. Though the status was ab initio seen as a ocular processing shortage, subsequently surveies, e.g. Frank Vellutino ( 1979 ) [ 3 ] , showed that the job ballad in the processing of linguistic communication. Nowadays, the footings ‘specific larning disability’ and ‘phonologically-disabled’ are more widely used to try to depict the status that is estimated to consequence 4 % of kids of school age ( Egan, 1998 ) [ 4 ] . Cases have been recognised across all societal categories and linguistic communications every bit good as throughout most states.

The term ‘dyslexia’ is frequently generalised to mention to all types of reading upsets but a figure of common characteristics ( apart from the reading trouble ) are normally evident in younger kids with dyslexia and these include hapless co-ordination ( seen in jobs with otherwise simple activities such as binding shoe laces ) . Their script is hard to decode with letters/numbers written the incorrect manner unit of ammunition or confused with other similar letters, e.g. B, vitamin D, P, Q. Another feature of dyslexic kids is that their short-run memory operation is hapless. They find trouble in recovering and decrypting information stored in their memory, hence, this can take to mispronunciation of words, calling objects that are infrequent, e.g. stethoscope.

The status can be divided into two chief classs: acquired and developmental. The acquired signifier of dyslexia consequences from encephalon diseases or encephalon hurts from accidents. In this, the kid has trouble in reading words where the spellings are irregular and demo trouble in recognizing differences in words with similar sounds, e.g. new and knew. The kid shows trouble in organizing words instead than in the apprehension of these. This type of acquired dyslexia is besides known as ‘surface’ dyslexia. In ‘deep’ dyslexia the kid shows trouble in reading words that are hard to visualize mentally, e.g. verbs and maps but is able to grok nouns and adjectives better.

Most surveies have focused on developmental dyslexia. This is described as a ‘puzzling phenomenon’ and hard to specify ( Thomson, 1997 ) [ 5 ] and shows itself in early schoolroom scenes when the kid is unable to develop reading and composing accomplishments that would be classed as ‘normal’ for his/her age group. Persons face jobs in treating both ocular and audile symbols and sounds ( e.g. encoding/decoding, reading, spelling, etc ) . The type of ocular mistakes made by dyslexics in reading are similar to those made by kids when they are first get downing to larn to read. Dyslexics, nevertheless, have greater jobs when placing phonemes ( i.e. sounds ) Their job is in interrupting down phonemes to bring forth longer spoken words and so they can sometimes merely manage words they have learnt as ‘sight’ words.

Harmonizing to Stanovich and Siegel ( 1994 ) [ 6 ] dyslexics have merely partial consciousness of phonological forms in words, e.g. sounding out and uniting phonemes and treating the sound construction of words when they are spoken. The phonological-deficit hypothesis is postulated, i.e. the job dyslexic kids face is in the dispensation of address sounds, hence this leads to jobs in farther facets of reading demands, viz. the ability to sound out longer words or associate word forms in, e.g. riming words. In order to go fluent at reading, there is the demand to be able to treat words automatically, but as Yap and van der Leij ( 1994 ) [ 7 ] province, dyslexics have a ‘deficit in automatic phonological decoding’ . Other research workers besides agree with this, e.g. Gilchrist ( 1997 ) [ 8 ] describes the status as a ‘deficit of information processing’ , particularly in the manner in which symbolic linguistic communication is structured and arranged. Dyslexics require a batch of excess attempt in recognizing words and develop reading accomplishments really easy.

Despite most of modern-day research concentrating on the shortage in phonological consciousness in dyslexics, and claiming small or no correlativity between a child’s reading development and ocular ability, Stein ( 1994 ) [ 9 ] has produced an interesting angle to the argument by saying how the ocular system can non be ignored. Many kids with dyslexia study that letters appear to ‘hover’ and ‘move’ around for them when they are trying to read, i.e. words appear scrambled and unstable. This would bespeak ocular jobs and Stein associates this with unstable control of oculus motion. In his survey, Stein found that in most dyslexics it is extremely likely that both shortages in ocular and phonological ability co-existed.

However, some research workers are of the sentiment that dyslexia does non even exist, but is a agency of ‘distraction’ from existent jobs, i.e. hapless instruction or labelling a kid who is merely a slow scholar as dyslexic. Whittaker ( 1982 ) [ 10 ] for case, sees the thought of developmental dyslexia as a fraud ; the term is used freely to depict any reading job regardless of whether it is due to single differences or hapless instruction and instruction, etc. The term has suffered from overexploitation and is associated with all kinds of jobs. Labeling all reading troubles as dyslexia means that the existent implicit in jobs are non recognised for what they are, e.g. insufficiencies in the educational systems, the kid is merely a slow scholar. Besides, by labelling a reading job as ‘dyslexia’ , there is besides a sense of permanence being made, but in world, one time diagnosing is made, dyslexic kids can normally get the better of initial reading jobs in footings of truth, with the aid of specializer instructors, parental support, address healers, etc. but their public presentation is still likely to be slow. However, if diagnosing is non made early, dyslexics frequently face trouble in basic accomplishments such as reading, spelling etc. and are seen by instructors and parents as merely lazy and missing motive. When the job is non recognised dyslexia can take to defeat and deficiency of self-respect and assurance every bit good as the added jobs caused by equal twits and mockeries.

In some instances, where a kid has reading jobs, this may be due to a general acquisition job, e.g. their general rational abilities are below mean, behaviour upsets ( attending shortage hyperactivity upset ) . Environmental issues can non be ignored since they can besides play a portion in impeding the child’s advancement to larn to read, e.g. socio-cultural want, absence from school due to illness or disinterest. Reading upsets have many implicit in causes. It may be the instance for a kid that there is cipher interested in reading at place so the kid has no function theoretical account in this sense and does non demo avidity to go involved in reading, i.e. they see it as something done at school and non associated with place life. Therefore, there is deficiency of involvement in school acquisition which is non considered of import or relevant to ‘real’ life. Another illustration is from Gunter’s ( 1983 ) [ 11 ] survey, where it was found that excessively much telecasting at a immature age had an inauspicious consequence on children’s ability to develop reading accomplishments. Television provides instant and changing stimulation, whereas reading requires some grade of attempt on the portion of the kid, and hence may take to reluctance.

In footings of their general intelligence, nevertheless, kids would be expected to expose a certain degree in their reading, composing ability, but kids with dyslexia under perform in these activities even though they may hold the necessary degrees of intelligence and environmental agencies, e.g. good school systems, parental support. Children tend to be diagnosed as dyslexic via this difference between their reading abilities and the expected reading abilities based on their degree of general intelligence ( Snowling, 1998 ) . [ 12 ] However, some of the environmental forms in the behavior of dyslexic kids are besides common in kids who are hapless readers, e.g. due to take down IQ, so it is hard to utilize this as a agency to distinguish between a kid who is by and large a hapless reader or 1 who has dyslexia.

The chief agencies to distinguish between dyslexics and other kids with reading jobs is that though dyslexics show jobs in reading, spelling, etc. there are no obvious grounds why this should be the instance ( e.g. as would be the instance for kids who are deaf, blind, have Down’s Syndrome or encephalon hurt ) . Though the kid is below the mean reading age, they exhibit ‘normal’ intelligence for their age group. There are no ocular or audile lacks, and they are seen to be emotionally stable ( as compared to kids with emotional or behavioral jobs such as autism or attending shortage hyperactivity upset ) and have equal educational agencies ( as compared to kids from destitute environments ) .

However, despite extended research into dyslexic kids ( and grownups ) there is much dissension about the causes and manifestations of dyslexia, every bit good as how to specify the upset ( Simpson, 2000 ) [ 13 ] . Research is strongly influenced by the varied methods and involvements of the research worker and his/her background, e.g. neurology, psychological science, genetic sciences, etc and there is much dissatisfaction amongst authors into how to specify and hence, name the upset. Besides, the research is normally contrived in the sense that it is non representative of real-life procedures involved in reading development, and is much influenced by the researcher’s field of involvement. For illustration, in a survey by Smith et Al ( 1983 ) [ 14 ] it was argued that some types of developmental dyslexia could be due to familial factors. Smith et al linked it to a dominant cistron on the chromosome that was associated with linguistic communication development in the encephalon, i.e. chromosome 15. Others have suggested that this is hard to mensurate straight and such surveies are based on illation merely. Besides, there are many factors involved in whether a kid learns to read or non, e.g. household function theoretical accounts, impact of telecasting, whether reading is considered worthwhile by the person, etc. However, biological factors are non to be ignored wholly since the manner the encephalon interacts with the environment is of import in developing the nervous webs needed to bring forth the ability to read ( Vellutino et al, 2004 ) [ 15 ] . Nevertheless, the exact causes of dyslexia are still non known and as Gilchrist ( 1997 ) [ 16 ] provinces, the status is extremely complex in ‘theoretical footings, diagnosing and prescription of treatment’ so causal illations are the lone means to seek to explicate and depict the status.


Egan, J. ( 1998 ) ‘Why can’t dyslexics read? ’Psychology Review. 5 ( 2 ) 12-15.

Fawcett, A. and Nicolson, R. ( explosive detection systems. ) ( 1994 )Dyslexia in kids: multidisciplinary positions.Hertfordshire: Harvester Wheatsheaf.

Gilchrist, P. ‘The educational psychologist’ . In Thomson, P. and Gilchrist, P. ( explosive detection systems ) ( 1997 )Dyslexia: a multidisciplinary attack.Chapman & A ; Hall: London. pp.24-58

Gunter, B. ( 1983 ) ‘Do aggressive people prefer violent telecasting? ’Bulletin of the British Psychological Society. 36:166-170.

Simpson, S. ( 2000 ) ‘Dyslexia: a developmental linguistic communication disorder’ .Child: Care, Health and Development. 26 ( 5 ) , 355-380

Smith, S.D. , Kimberley, W. J. , Pennington, B. F. and Lubs, H. A. ( 1983 ) ‘Specific reading disablement: designation of an familial signifier through linkage analysis.’Science219: 1345-7

Snowling, M. ( 1998 ) ‘Dyslexia as a phonological shortage: grounds and implications’ .Child Psychology and Psychiatry Review3 ( 1 ) 4-11

Stanovich, K.E. , and Siegel, L. S. ( 1994 ) ‘The phenotypic public presentation profile of reading-disabled kids: a regression-based trial of the phonological-core variable difference model’ .Journal of Educational Psychology. 86, 24-53

Stein, J. F. ‘A ocular defect in dyslexics? ’ in Fawcett and Nicolson ( explosive detection systems. ) ( 1994 )Dyslexia in kids: multidisciplinary positions.Hertfordshire: Harvester Wheatsheaf. pp.137-156

Thomson, P. ‘Dyslexia: whose job? In Thomson, P. and Gilchrist, P. ( explosive detection systems ) ( 1997 )Dyslexia: a multidisciplinary attack.Chapman & A ; Hall: London. pp. 1-23

Vellutino, F.R. , Fletcher, J. M. , Snowling, M. J. and Scanlon, D.M. ( 2004 ) ‘Specific reading disablement ( dyslexia ) : what have we learned in the past four decennaries? ’Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.45 ( 1 ) , 2-40

Whittaker, E. M. ( 1982 ) ‘Dyslexia and the level earth.’Bulletin of the Psychological Society.35: 97-9

Yap, R. and van der Leij, A. ‘Automaticity shortages in word reading’ in Fawcett and Nicolson ( explosive detection systems. ) ( 1994 )Dyslexia in kids: multidisciplinary positions.Hertfordshire: Harvester Wheatsheaf. pp.77-106


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