Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

In the mind of a person with Dyslexia

asavannah's picture

      There are millions of children all around the world who are affected by dyslexia. Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability where people who are affected by this disorder often have trouble with spelling, reading, word pronunciation, writing, and may have complications with math. Since the brain is the control center for the nervous system, it is responsible for our behavior. The brain receives input from all of our senses, and allows us to decipher what it taking place around us. What happens with dyslexia is that it takes the messages the brain receives from what one hears and sees and mixes the signals or information around, which in turn causes confusion.
       Individuals who suffer from dyslexia are often very intelligent; but due to the confusion of words and sounds this intellectual being is usually hidden behind the disorder. The people who suffer from dyslexia are generally frustrated and have difficulties in school because they feel dumb.
      The problems associated with this disorder are troubles with tests, reading words backwards (e.g. saying was instead of saw), writing letters the wrong way, missing words while reading or adding words, losing their place while reading, finding it hard to comprehend what was read, and much more. One may think that these are mistakes that can be made by anyone, which is true for the most part but the difference with people with dyslexia and those without it is that they generally do not realize a mistake has been made and cannot easily correct their error.
      For the past 150 years, there have been several disputes as to what this severe reading problem, which was associated with neurological dysfunctions, actually was. Scientist had different views as to what the causes of reading failure were. In 1896, Pringle Morgan described this severe reading failure as congenital word blindness, which described the disability as a problem found in the visual memory for words and letters which explained the reasoning for letter reversals, misspellings, and reading comprehension.  
      Another researcher by the name of Samuel T. Orton made an assumption of his own in 1928. He believed that it was neither perception nor linguistic processes that were to blame but instead the child’s ability to appropriately apply lateralized cognitive processes in interpreting the visual image. He believed that the condition did not only stem from visual deficits but was caused by hemispheric dominance in the brain. 
      Orton found that the children he observed with learning disabilities were disproportionately left-handed or mixed-handed. This led to the belief that the left planum temporal area of the brain, that is responsible for language processing, is in fact larger than the right area of the brains of non-dyslexic people. 
      It has been a pretty difficult task to simply define dyslexia since several types of symptoms exists. Researchers have many times tried to explain the underlying causes of dyslexia. Several theories have been postulated about how this disorder came into existence. The evolutionary theory states that reading is an unnatural act that was carried out by only a brief period of time. The phonological hypothesis postulates that dyslexics have a specific impairment in the representation, storage, or retrieval of speech sounds. The rapid auditory processing theory is an alternative to the phonological deficit theory, which states that the primary deficit lies in the perception of short or rapidly varying sounds. The visual theory considers visual impairment as a possibility for difficulties processing letter and words. The concept of a perceptual noise exclusion deficit is another hypothesis, that shows that dyslexic subjects experience difficulty in performing visual tasks such as motion detection when perceptual distractions are present, but do not show the same impairment when the distracting factors are removed from an experimental setting. 
      Recently, researchers have found that there may be genetic factors connected to this disorder. In 2007, there was genetic research done in families with dyslexia. There were nine chromosome regions that were located, which may in fact be associated with the susceptibility to the disorder.    
      Although, it is not exactly clear as to what the causes of dyslexia are. It is still a very prominent issue that the world has and still is facing today. With the ever growing emphasis on the importance of literacy in the world, this problem needs to be dealt with as soon as symptoms become noticeable. Dyslexia is one of the many important issues that need to be researched further.


WWW Sources



jackie 's picture

what can a person do about this

is there help for these people

Paul Grobstein's picture

more on dyslexia and variation

See Dyslexia Different as Night and Day in today's NYTimes Science Times.
Paul Grobstein's picture

dyslexia and variation

"for some dyslexics but not all" is, I think, a very important point ... and probaby one that needs to be kept in mind for most brain phenomena? See for example Exploring Depression.
John Hayes's picture

A thought about dyslexia

Another way of looking at the theories of what causes dyslexia is to understand that all are partial explanizations of the large condition that is dyslexia.
Together they form a fairly good understanding of what dyslexia is where they all fail when considered individually.

Granted, each theory has believers that claim " This is dyslexia ". If the goal is to understand a particular dyslexic and get help for that particular dyslexic, then the reality is that it needs to be determined which theory applies to that dyslexic so that a focused intervention can be developed.

There seems to be a disconnect between what dyslexia researchers are trying to do ,which is finding the single cause of dyslexia and what is wanted by most dyslexics which is what intervention will help him or her.

I offer as proof the different studies using fMRI to study dyslexia that study
specific areas of the brain ( generally each of which is related to a particular theory of what dyslexia is ). All the studies find the same result of being able to see the difference between groups of dyslexics and non dyslexics but with data overlap between the groups that makes identifying individual dyslexics impossible.

If you have only read the media reports of those studies and have already picked one that you firmly believe is the right result and that what causes dyslexia has been found , I suggest you find and read the researchers conclusions. Not one researcher can claim to evaluate a person by fMRI and determine if he or she is dyslexic.

When different dyslexics have different problems , which is what is observed, how can one theory of one cause be correct. On the plus side you can conclude that indeed these theories are each and every one of them are supported by fMRI

I personally have developed filter glasses for the minority of dyslexics that fit the criteria of being able to describe a visual problem that makes reading difficult. While that criteria covers a broad range of visual problems that make reading difficult it is narrow enough so that an individual can determine if he or she is in the group.

My point is that while no one theory covers all dyslexics, together they do form a list of problems from which any particular dyslexic is likely to be able to find the cause of his or her dyslexia problems. What is still needed is for the different interventions to determine criteria that will identify which intervention will help which dyslexic.

Until that happens, dyslexia interventions developed for a particular theory will continue to have failure rates due to the simple fact that some dyslexics have problems in other areas that are not addressed.