What Is Dyslexia Disorder

What is Dyslexia

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Dyslexia is a learning disorder that affects your ability to read, spell, write, and speak. Kids who have it are often smart and hardworking, but they have trouble connecting the letters they see to the sounds those letters make.

What is Dyslexia Disorder

About 5% to 10% of Americans have some symptoms of dyslexia, such as slow reading, trouble spelling, or mixing up words. Adults can have this learning disorder, as well. Some people are diagnosed early in life. Others don’t realize they have dyslexia until they get older.

Kids with dyslexia often have normal vision and are just as smart as their peers. But they struggle more in school because it takes them longer to read. Trouble processing words can also make it hard to spell, write, and speak clearly.

Dyslexia involves the ways that the brain processes graphic symbols and the sounds of words. It commonly affects word recognition, spelling, and the ability to match letters to sounds.

Signs Of Dyslexia

The earliest signs of dyslexia emerge around 1 to 2 years of age when children first learn to make sounds. Children who don’t say their first words until 15 months of age or their first phrases until 2 years of age have a higher risk of developing dyslexia. However, not all people with speech delays develop dyslexia, and not all people with dyslexia have speech delays as children. A speech delay is just a cue for parents to pay attention to language development. Children from families with a history of reading difficulties should also be monitored closely for dyslexia.

Other dyslexia warning signs that arise before age 5 years include:

  • having problems learning and remembering the names of letters in the alphabet
  • having difficulty learning the words to common nursery rhymes
  • being unable to recognize the letters of their own name
  • mispronouncing familiar words or using baby talk
  • being unable to recognize rhyming patterns

Around age 5 or 6 years, when kids begin learning to read, dyslexia symptoms become more apparent. Children who are at risk of reading disabilities can be identified in kindergarten. There is no standardized test for dyslexia, so your child’s doctor will work with you to evaluate their symptoms.

Signs that your kindergartener or first grader may be at risk include:

  • not understanding that words break apart into sounds
  • making reading errors that aren’t connected to the sounds of the letters on the page
  • having a history of parents or siblings with reading problems
  • complaining about how hard reading is
  • not wanting to go to school
  • showing problems with speaking and pronunciation
  • having trouble sounding out basic words like “cat” or “map”
  • not associating letters with sounds (for example, that “p” sounds like “paa”)

Early intervention programs usually focus on phonological (word sound) awareness, vocabulary, and reading strategies.

Second through eighth grades

Many teachers are not trained to recognize dyslexia. Children who are intelligent and participate fully in class often slip through the cracks because they are good at hiding their reading trouble. By the time your child reaches middle school, they may have fallen behind in reading, writing, and spelling.

Signs of dyslexia in grade school and middle school include:

  • being very slow in learning to read
  • reading slowly and awkwardly
  • having difficulty with new words and sounding them out
  • disliking or avoiding reading out loud
  • using vague and inexact vocabulary, like “stuff” and “things”
  • hesitating while finding words and answering questions
  • using a lot of “umms” in conversation
  • mispronouncing words that are long, unknown, or complicated
  • confusing words that sound alike
  • having trouble remembering details, such as names and dates
  • having messy handwriting

High school and college involve a new set of challenges for students with dyslexia. They face far more rigorous academic challenges when quick reading comprehension is essential. High school and college students are assigned more reading material. They must also learn to work with several different teachers, all with different expectations.

Without treatment, some people’s childhood dyslexia continues into young adulthood. Others will improve naturally as their higher learning functions develop.

In addition to the signs already seen in childhood, dyslexia signs in young adulthood can include:

  • requiring a great mental effort for reading
  • reading slowly
  • rarely reading for pleasure
  • avoiding reading out loud in any situation
  • pausing and hesitating often while speaking
  • using a lot of “umms”
  • using vague and imprecise language
  • pronouncing names and places wrong frequently
  • having difficulty remembering names
  • confusing like-sounding names
  • missing quick responses in conversation
  • having a limited spoken vocabulary
  • having difficulty with multiple-choice tests
  • considering themselves stupid despite good grades

Dyslexia in adults

It’s unknown exactly how many adults have dyslexia. A lack of a uniform definition of dyslexia makes it hard for researchers to study. Various estimates suggest that as many as 5 to 10 percent of the population may have dyslexia. It’s typically diagnosed in childhood, but some people are never diagnosed. If you’ve always had trouble reading, there’s a good chance you could have dyslexia.

Symptoms you might recognize in yourself include:

  • You rarely or never read for pleasure.
  • You hate reading out loud in front of your coworkers, friends, and children.
  • You have trouble understanding jokes, puns, or turns of phrase.
  • You struggle with tasks that require memorization and repetition.
  • You have time management issues, or things take much longer than you think they will.
  • You have trouble summarizing things you read.
  • You have trouble doing math.

What Causes Dyslexia

Dyslexia tends to run in families. It appears to be linked to certain genes that affect how the brain processes reading and language, as well as risk factors in the environment.

Risk factors

Dyslexia risk factors include:

  • A family history of dyslexia or other learning disabilities
  • Premature birth or low birth weight
  • Exposure during pregnancy to nicotine, drugs, alcohol, or infection that may alter brain development in the fetus
  • Individual differences in the parts of the brain that enable reading


Dyslexia can lead to a number of problems, including:

  • Trouble learning. Because reading is a skill basic to most other school subjects, a child with dyslexia is at a disadvantage in most classes and may have trouble keeping up with peers.
  • Social problems. Left untreated, dyslexia may lead to low self-esteem, behavior problems, anxiety, aggression, and withdrawal from friends, parents, and teachers.
  • Problems as adults. The inability to read and comprehend can prevent a child from reaching his or her potential as the child grows up. This can have long-term educational, social, and economic consequences.

Children who have dyslexia are at increased risk of having attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and vice versa. ADHD can cause difficulty sustaining attention as well as hyperactivity and impulsive behavior, which can make dyslexia harder to treat.


There’s no single test that can diagnose dyslexia. A number of factors are considered, such as:

  • Your child’s development, educational issues, and medical history. The doctor will likely ask you questions about these areas and want to know about any conditions that run in the family, including whether any family members have a learning disability.
  • Homelife. The doctor may ask for a description of your family and home life, including who lives at home and whether there are any problems at home.
  • Questionnaires. The doctor may have your child, family members or teachers answer written questions. Your child may be asked to take tests to identify reading and language abilities.
  • Vision, hearing, and brain (neurological) tests. These can help determine whether another disorder may be causing or adding to your child’s poor reading ability.
  • Psychological testing. The doctor may ask you and your child questions to better understand your child’s mental health. This can help determine whether social problems, anxiety, or depression may be limiting your child’s abilities.
  • Testing reading and other academic skills. Your child may take a set of educational tests and have the process and quality of reading skills analyzed by a reading expert.


There’s no known way to correct the underlying brain abnormality that causes dyslexia — dyslexia is a lifelong problem. However, early detection and evaluation to determine specific needs and appropriate treatment can improve success.

Educational techniques

Dyslexia is treated using specific educational approaches and techniques, and the sooner the intervention begins, the better. Psychological testing will help your child’s teachers develop a suitable teaching program.

Teachers may use techniques involving hearing, vision, and touch to improve reading skills. Helping a child use several senses to learn — for example, listening to a taped lesson and tracing with a finger the shape of the letters used and the words spoken — can help in processing the information.

Treatment focuses on helping your child:

  • Learn to recognize and use the smallest sounds that make up words (phonemes)
  • Understand that letters and strings of letters represent these sounds and words (phonics)
  • Comprehend what he or she is reading
  • Read aloud to build reading accuracy and speed
  • Build a vocabulary of recognized and understood words

If available, tutoring sessions with a reading specialist can be helpful for many children with dyslexia. If your child has a severe reading disability, tutoring may need to occur more frequently, and progress may be slower.

Individual education plan

In the United States, schools have a legal obligation to take steps to help children diagnosed with dyslexia with their learning problems. Talk to your child’s teacher about setting up a meeting to create a structured, written plan that outlines your child’s needs and how the school will help him or her succeed. This is called an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

Early treatment

Children with dyslexia who get extra help in kindergarten or first grade often improve their reading skills enough to succeed in grade school and high school.

Children who don’t get help until later grades may have more difficulty learning the skills needed to read well. They’re likely to lag behind academically and may never be able to catch up. A child with severe dyslexia may never have an easy time reading, but he or she can learn skills that improve reading and develop strategies to improve school performance and quality of life.

What parents can do

You play a key role in helping your child succeed. Take these steps:

  • Address the problem early. If you suspect your child has dyslexia, talk to your child’s doctor. Early intervention can improve success.
  • Read aloud to your child. It’s best if you start when your child is 6 months old or even younger. Try listening to recorded books with your child. When your child is old enough, read the stories together after your child hears them.
  • Work with your child’s school. Talk to your child’s teacher about how the school will help him or her succeed. You are your child’s best advocate.
  • Encourage reading time. To improve reading skills, a child must practice reading. Encourage your child to read.
  • Set an example for reading. Designate a time each day to read something of your own while your child reads — this sets an example and supports your child. Show your child that reading can be enjoyable.

What adults with dyslexia can do?

Success in employment can be difficult for adults struggling with dyslexia. To help achieve your goals:

  • Seek evaluation and instructional help with reading and writing, regardless of your age
  • Ask about additional training and reasonable accommodations from your employer or academic institution under the Americans with Disabilities Act

Academic problems don’t necessarily mean a person with dyslexia can’t succeed. Capable students with dyslexia can be highly successful, given the right resources. Many people with dyslexia are creative and bright and may be gifted in math, science, or the arts. Some even have successful writing careers.

 Different Types Of Dyslexia

    • Primary dyslexia: This is the most common type of dyslexia, and is a dysfunction of, rather than damage to, the left side of the brain (cerebral cortex) and does not change with age. There is variability in the severity of the disability for Individuals with this type of dyslexia, and most who receive an appropriate educational intervention will be academically successful throughout their lives.
    • Unfortunately, there are others who continue to struggle significantly with reading, writing, and spelling throughout their adult lives. Primary dyslexia is passed in family lines through genes (hereditary) or through new genetic mutations and it is found more often in boys than in girls.
    • Secondary or developmental dyslexia: This type of dyslexia is caused by problems with brain development during the early stages of fetal development. Developmental dyslexia diminishes as the child matures. It is also more common in boys.
      • Trauma dyslexia: This type of dyslexia usually occurs after some form of brain trauma or injury to the area of the brain that controls reading and writing. It is rarely seen in today’s school-age population.

Other types of learning disability include:

    • The term visual dyslexia is sometimes used to refer to visual processing disorder, a condition in which the brain does not properly interpret visual signals.
    • The term auditory dyslexia has been used to refer to auditory processing disorder. Similar to visual processing disorder, there are problems with the brain’s processing of sounds and speech.
    • Dysgraphia refers to the child’s difficulty holding and controlling a pencil so that the correct markings can be made on the paper.


Before any treatment is started, an evaluation must be done to determine the child’s specific area of disability. While there are many theories about successful treatment for dyslexia, there is no actual cure for it. The school will develop a plan with the parent to meet the child’s needs. The plan may be implemented in a special education setting or in the regular classroom. An appropriate treatment plan will focus on strengthening the child’s weaknesses while utilizing the strengths. A direct approach may include a systematic study of phonics.

Techniques designed to help all the senses work together efficiently can also be used. Computers are powerful tools for these children and should be utilized as much as possible. The child should be taught compensation and coping skills. Attention should be given to optimum learning conditions and alternative avenues for student performance.

In addition to what the school has to offer, there are alternative treatment options available outside the school setting. Although alternative treatments are commonly recommended, there is limited research supporting the effectiveness of these treatments. In addition, many of these treatments are very costly, and it may be easy for frustrated parents to be misled by something that is expensive and sounds attractive.

Perhaps the most important aspect of any treatment plan is attitude. Children will be influenced by the attitudes of the adults around them. Dyslexia should not become an excuse for a child to avoid written work. Because the academic demands on a child with dyslexia may be great and the child may tire easily, work increments should be broken down into appropriate chunks. Frequent breaks should be built into class and homework time.

Reinforcement should be given for efforts as well as achievements. Alternatives to traditional written assignments should be explored and utilized. Teachers are learning to deliver information to students in a variety of ways that are not only more interesting but helpful to students who may learn best by different techniques. Interactive technology provides interesting ways for students to get feedback on what they have learned, in contrast to traditional paper-pencil tasks.

Alternative Treatments For Dyslexia

Since this condition is generally biological in nature, the treatment usually involves diet interventions. The goal is to establish a balanced nutrient intake to make all the parts of the body function well, especially the brain. In most cases, experts recommend fish oils because they contain a special type of acid called Omega-3. This will help the cerebral cortex (the outer part of the brain where most high cognitive functioning happens) to improve memory, focus, and attention levels.

Flaxseed Oil

Flaxseed Oil contains a high level of Omega-3 acids. Like fish oil, Flaxseed increases brain function in the areas of attention, focus, and memory retention.

Omega-3 is helpful not only for a Dyslexic person but for all of us. As we grow older, the brain’s overall capacity declines. So taking supplements such as Flaxseed helps secure your brain’s health.

Royal Jelly

Royal Jelly is rich in vitamin B complex necessary for brain development. Vitamin B complex is one of the nutrients in order for children to acquire healthy childhood development. Experts believe that the Vitamin B complex is helpful in reducing the possibility for a child to develop Dyslexia.

Bee Pollen

Like Royal Jelly and fish oil, the Bee Pollen is one of the best nutrients that could treat Dyslexia. The Bee Pollen is another natural remedy for dyslexia not only for children but also for adults.


The Jyotishmati is proven to be effective in improving brain functioning such as concentration, memory retention, and focus. This is the reason why Jyotishmati is one of the natural remedies for Dyslexia.

There are many ways to treat dyslexia naturally. What I listed here are just a few of them. You can find many more. But always ask your doctor’s opinion or prescription before taking or consuming any supplement. Always observe safety measures.

Always seek your doctor’s advice before using any herbal alternatives


The prognosis for children with dyslexia is variable and dependent on the cause. In the case of primary dyslexia, the earlier the diagnosis is made and intervention starts, the better the outcome. It is also important to focus on the child’s self-esteem since dealing with dyslexia can be extremely frustrating. Lastly, it is important to recognize that many well-known and successful individuals have suffered from dyslexia, including Albert Einstein and Steven Spielberg, just to name a couple.

Thank you for reading


Comments are welcome

4 thoughts on “What Is Dyslexia Disorder”

  1. Thanks for that thorough article on Dyslexia. I have a lot of  these exact symptoms except when it comes to numbers and not letters. I see number backwards sometimes, at work I am always searching for files that I do not need such as those with numbers like B083 when in fact I actally saw the number as being B308.  Do I have dyslexia? 

    • Hi J.G. Page,

      Thank you for your comments. I really have no way of knowing if you have dyslexia or not. This is something you should discuss with your doctor. The earlier the diagnosis the better. Please make an appointment if you have a lot of the symptoms.

      Wishing you all the best,


  2. Hi Michael,

    I have a 15-year-old son and I was comparing his study habits while reading your post. He is struggling with French and Math but I know it’s because he is so distracted with online games, and if he just focuses on these subjects, he gets good grades.

    Although dyslexia is a life-long condition, good to know that there are supplements that could help.

    And yes, these individuals are as smart just like anybody else. And could succeed if recognized early on and given support.


    • Hi Marita,

      Thank you for your comments. I can understand your 15-year-old son being distracted by online games. I think is natural but if you have any doubts he can be tested. The earlier the diagnosis the better.

      All the best,



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