An Overview of Dyslexia

Mohd Sufyan   by Mohd Sufyan, BSME, MBA    Last updated on March 5, 2019,

dyslexia overview

What is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a learning disorder that is characterized by a difficulty in reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and understanding how these speech sounds relate to letters and words. It is a reading disability and affects areas of the brain that is responsible for language processing.

Are people with dyslexia deficient of intelligence?

People with dyslexia have normal intelligence as well as normal vision. Most children with dyslexia can become successful in school with extra caretaking or through specialized education programs and with emotional support.

Signs and symptoms dyslexia

The signs and symptoms of dyslexia can appear as early as preschool. If you’re a parent or a teacher and think that your child or student might have dyslexia, these are some common signs that you can to look for.

Signs and symptoms of dyslexia in preschool years

  • Trouble learning basic nursery rhymes, such as “Jack and Jill” or “Twinkle Twinkle”
  • Difficulty in learning and remembering the names of letters
  • The child is often unable to recognize letters even in his/her name
  • Unable to pronounce even familiar words such as “baby”, “school time” correctly
  • Cannot recognize rhyming patterns such as hat, mat, rat
  • A family history of reading and/or spelling difficulties. Dyslexia generally runs in families.

Signs and symptoms of dyslexia in kindergarten & first Grade children

  • Make reading errors that show no connection to the sounds of the letters on the page. For example, these children will say “kitten” instead of the written word “cat” on a page with a picture of a cat.
  • These kids do not understand that how words come apart
  • Often finds and complains about how hard reading is
  • Avoid situations when they have to read. They simply disappear from there.
  • Family history in parents or siblings
  • Cannot not associate letters with sounds, such as the letter a with the “a” sound
  • These children have a higher curiosity level and greater imagination
  • They have a good ability to figure out things fast
  • They can understand new concepts very well
  • Amazing maturity
  • They have a larger vocabulary than people of the same age group
  • Enjoy puzzles
  • They have excellent comprehension of stories
  • They have a great latent of building models

Signs and symptoms of dyslexia in second grade through high school

  • These children are slow in acquiring reading skills.
  • They have difficulty in reading unfamiliar words, and often make wild guesses
  • Pauses and hesitates when speaking
  • Confuses words that sound alike
  • Unable to pronounce words correctly particularly long and unfamiliar words
  • They need extra time to respond to someone’s question
  • Avoids situations when they have to read out loudly
  • They mix up the words such as they would search for a specific word and ends up adding language, such as “stuff” or “thing,” without naming the particular object
  • They cannot remember dates, numbers, lists, etc
  • Poor spelling
  • Poor and messy handwriting
  • Difficulty in learning new languages
  • Are unable to finish test or assignments on time
  • They have a low self-esteem and are lacking in confidence
  • They have excellent imagination and thinking, and reasoning
  • They are able to capture bigger pictures and understand things from larger perspectives
  • They have more than average level of understanding when something is read to them
  • They have an amazing and sophisticated listening vocabulary
  • Excels in areas that are not dependent on reading, such as math, computers, arts, philosophy, biology, social studies, and creative writing etc if they do not involve reading or words.

Signs and symptoms of dyslexia in adults

  • A childhood history of reading and spelling problems
  • Slow reading
  • They do not find any pleasure in reading
  • Lack of fluency; frequent use of “um’s” and fillers
  • General anxiety when speaking
  • Avoids situations that involve reading loudly
  • Sometimes reading skills develop over time as a child grow in age, but the skills are much lower than average persons and the person still requires a lot of effort in reading text and at a slow pace
  • Wrongly pronounces the names of people and places incorrectly
  • Lack of confidence and a low self esteem
  • Extreme fatigue when reading
  • Cannot perform clerical tasks well
  • Do not remember names of people and places
  • Confuses names that sound alike
  • Takes extra time responding in conversations
  • Spoken vocabulary is weaker than listening vocabulary
  • These people have a higher ability to learn
  • They are extremely capable in high-level conceptualization things
  • They can easily come up with original ideas and insights
  • A great inclination to think outside of the box
  • They shows significant improvement if some support is given to them
  • They can show excellence when they focus on a highly specialized area, such as medicine, law, policy making, architecture etc
  • Highly effective of expressing their ideas and feelings
  • Amazing level of empathy and warmth
  • They are brilliant and highly successful in areas that do not depend on clerical things and spelling

What causes dyslexia?

Dyslexia usually runs in families. It appears to be connected to certain genes that affect how the brain processes reading and language tasks. It also seems to be linked to certain risk factors in the environment.

Dyslexia risk factors

  • Dyslexia risk factors include such as:
  • Premature birth or low birth weight
  • A family history of dyslexia or other learning problems
  • Certain types of exposure during pregnancy such as exposure to nicotine, drugs, alcohol or infection that may affect the process brain development in a fetus
  • Certain problems in certain part of the brain of an individual

Diagnosis of dyslexia

One single test cannot diagnose dyslexia completely. Doctors usually consider several of the following tests for diagnosing dyslexia:

Psychological testing – A doctor will ask the child and his/her parent some questions to understand child's mental health. He will try to understand whether social problems, anxiety or depression may be limiting the abilities of a child.

Questionnaires – The doctor may provide a questionnaire for the child, his/her family members or teachers to them answer them in written.

Written test – The child may be asked to sit for written tests to identify his/her reading and language abilities.

Testing reading and other academic skills – The doctor may ask your child to take certain educational tests for reviewing his/her ability of reading skills, pronunciation, words analysis, spelling etc.

Neurological tests – Neurological tests involve tests for vision, hearing and checking brain functioning. The objective of these tests is to know if another disorder may be causing or adding to your child's poor reading and learning ability.


Child's overall development, educational problems, and medical history – Parents and teachers may be asked questions about education and overall developmental problems to know about any conditions that run in the family or of the child suffer with any other learning problem.

Family life of the child and parents – The doctor will ask about your family and home life such as who lives at home and whether there are any social or family problems at home that might be affecting the child learning and mental abilities.

Treatment of dyslexia

There's no cure of dyslexia as of now. The underlying brain abnormality that causes dyslexia cannot be corrected. It is a lifelong problem. But early detection and assessment of the condition can help deliver appropriate treatment to the child to manage the symptoms and improve the child’s success.

Some techniques that are usually used for managing the conditions are:

  • Dyslexia is usually treated with educational approaches and techniques in children. The sooner these interventions start, the better it is for the child.
  • Teachers may use certain techniques involving hearing, vision and touch to improve reading skills of such children.
  • Tutoring sessions with a specialist in education of such children can help many children with dyslexia.
  • Give extra help and support to such children in home and school.
  • If you suspect your child has dyslexia, talk to a child's doctor as early as possible.
  • Read aloud to your child, as it can help his learning skills.
  • Encourage reading time and promote reading practice.