Dyslexia is a reading disability. It is the most commonly diagnosed learning disability in the United States. Dyslexia is also called developmental reading disorder.
A child with dyslexia reads at a much lower level than average for his or her age, intelligence, and education. The disorder affects how a child does in school and other daily activities.
Nobody knows what causes dyslexia. It occurs more in some families. Children with other conditions such as fetal alcohol syndrome, fragile X syndrome, and lead poisoning are more likely to have a learning disability such as a reading disorder.
The disorder is not caused by vision problems. In dyslexia the problem is in the way the brain translates symbols into meaningful language.
Based on what is average for the child's age, intelligence, and education, a child with dyslexia may:
Sometimes children with dyslexia also have problems with speaking, such as mispronouncing words and speaking in incomplete sentences. Research shows that children who start talking later than normal may be more likely to have a reading disorder.
The disorder is usually detected in children early in grade school by parents or teachers. By the third grade, children with a reading disorder are usually 1 to 2 years behind in reading skills.
Your child's healthcare provider will examine your child to rule out medical problems such as hearing or vision problems. He or she will ask about your child's symptoms, medical history, and any family history of learning disorders. The provider may then refer you to a specialist for testing to measure your child's reading level and overall intelligence.
Reading disorders are usually treated by providing one-on-one instruction in reading skills. Your child may receive special help from his or her teacher in a regular classroom setting ("corrective reading"). It is also helpful for your child to work with a reading specialist ("remedial reading"). This can be done privately or in a small group that meets in a special classroom that may be called a resource room, reading center, or reading lab.
Methods that emphasize the senses, including hearing, vision, and touch are often used to improve reading skills. Many teaching methods can be used. If one approach isn't successful with a particular child, the teacher will try another one.
It is important for family, friends, and teachers to support and encourage children with dyslexia. Praise your child’s efforts, and any gains in reading skills, however small.
It may be hard for children with dyslexia to keep up with schoolwork. The earlier your child receives special help with reading skills, the more likely he or she will successfully complete high school, college, and even graduate school. Teenagers who still have problems may lose interest in reading, making it hard for them to do well in school. Adults with an untreated reading disorder may have fewer career choices.