The reading disability dyslexia is in no way associated with intelligence
levels, but sufferers can fall behind at school and their education suffer
unnecessarily if action is not taken.
Dyslexia, sometimes known as word blindness, is an abnormal difficulty
with reading and writing. It results from a minor problem in the brain;
either some parts of it do not develop fully, or there are a small number of
Dyslexics are not suffering from brain damage; this alarming term implies
something more dramatic. Teaching professionals tend to use the term minimal
cerebral dysfunction. Dyslexia is, in fact, fairly common; one child in 20
may be affected, boys more than girls, and it tends to run in families.
Although a relatively minor problem physically, it can create
psychological difficulties. If they do not get special attention, dyslexic
children fall behind at school, and tend to suffer from low self-esteem and
depression in later life.
TYPES OF DYSLEXIA
All dyslexics have trouble reading. The condition affects the ability to
recognize and understand words both long and short. Writing, too, is often
affected, either because the child has difficulty in forming letter shapes
or because the ability to learn how to spell is affected.
Some children also have trouble with arithmetic, largely because they
have problems writing down figures correctly. They can often perform
perfectly well with verbal questions, but when asked to write down the
answer they jumble or reverse the figures or even include a completely
In writing, dyslexics typically confuse letters that are similar in
shape, such as d and b, or u and n, or are similar in sound, such as v, f
and th. Words as well as letters are reversed, and sometimes letters are
completely jumbled. When reading, they find it difficult to keep their
place, and to move from the end of one line to the beginning of the next.
Most children make these mistakes at first, but dyslexics go on making them.
Potential problems can sometimes be spotted before a child starts school,
Those who suffer from eczema and especially asthma are statistically more
likely to be dyslexic, as are left-handers and those who show no marked
preference for their left or right hand. Clumsiness and difficulties with
the fine control needed, for instance, for drawing are other early warnings.
Most pre-school children can at least write their name. Continuing problems
with this suggest they may be dyslexic.
Dyslexia may get better by itself, because the brain finishes its delayed
development, or finds another way of doing things, bypassing the brain
lesions that originally caused the trouble. Even if this does not happen,
with special attention and plenty of practice a dyslexic child can learn to
read and write as well as anyone.