Dyslexia: Signs, Causes, Types, Statistics

Author: Disabled World
Updated/Revised Date: 2023/05/15
Contents: Main - Subtopics - Publications

Synopsis: Information concerning dyslexia, a learning disability in both children and adults where reading and writing abilities are affected. A person with dyslexia disorder experiences difficulty reading, writing, with letters, words, and numbers, as well as reversing letters and words. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke definition describes dyslexia as "difficulty with spelling, phonological processing (the manipulation of sounds), or rapid visual-verbal responding." Many people with dyslexia often excel, or are gifted, in areas of art, computer science, design, drama, electronics, math, mechanics, music, physics, sales, and sports.

Main Document

Dyslexia, also known as Alexia or developmental reading disorder, is characterized by difficulty with learning to read and with differing comprehension of language despite normal or above-average intelligence. This includes difficulty with phonological awareness, phonological decoding, processing speed, orthographic coding, auditory short-term memory, language skills and verbal comprehension, or rapid naming. Internationally, dyslexia is designated as a cognitive disorder, related to reading and speech. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke definition describes it as "difficulty with spelling, phonological processing (the manipulation of sounds), or rapid visual-verbal responding."

Several learning disabilities often occur with dyslexia, but it is unclear whether these learning disabilities share underlying neurological causes with dyslexia. These disabilities include:

In 2015, the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to define dyslexia as "an unexpected difficulty in reading for an individual who has the intelligence to be a much better reader; and due to a difficulty in getting to the individual sounds of spoken language, which impacts the ability of an individual to speak, read, spell, and often learn a language." This definition expands on and brings forward the definition adopted by the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) which also refers to the unexpected nature of dyslexia. According to the IDA, up to 20 percent of the population may show symptoms of dyslexia.

A person with dyslexia disorder experiences difficulty reading, writing, with letters, words, and numbers, as well as reversing letters and words. It is estimated that 10 to 15% of children have Dyslexia. Children with Dyslexia are confused with letters and numbers, and often learn to think in pictures and images instead.

Types of Dyslexia

Causes of dyslexia are typically hereditary in nature and are not caused by any emotional trauma.

Children with Dyslexia face problems at school, and this negative experience at school often causes behavior problems. The child gets frustrated due to lack of achievement and hence they abstain from going to school. Dyslexic people may have some exceptional strengths. He/She may learn computers before others of similar age, and may be brighter in sports, and possess great creative abilities. Having Dyslexia doesn't mean that the person is dumb or mentally disturbed, they may be average or above average in intelligence.

Learning disabilities affect about 5 percent of all school-age children in public schools in the United States. The majority of schoolchildren who receive special education services have deficits in reading, and dyslexia is the most common cause.

Signs of Dyslexia

A complete psychological evaluation should be done on your child if you suspect the disorder, special education personnel can carry out the evaluation. The evaluation should include: a developmental, medical, behavioral, academic and family history, a measure of general intellectual functioning (IQ testing), testing on oral language, memory, auditory processing, visual processing, visual motor integration, phonemic awareness, phonemic decoding, word recognition, decoding, spelling, reading, reading comprehension, written expression, and handwriting (would be done by an occupational therapist).

Adult Dyslexia

Adults with Dyslexia may hide reading problems, spell poorly, and avoid writing. These adults often have good creative skills, though. Many adults with Dyslexia are unemployed. They have difficulty in finding a proper job due to their inability. This makes them lose their self-confidence.

Some common signs and symptoms of dyslexia:


1/3 of dyslexic adults report being physically abused during childhood. Investigators examined a representative sample of 13,054 adults aged 18 and over in the 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey, including 1,020 respondents who reported that they had been physically abused during their childhood and 77 who reported that they had been diagnosed by a health professional with dyslexia.

Adults who have dyslexia are much more likely to report they were physically abused before they turned 18 than their peers without dyslexia. (University of Toronto and the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill)

Thirty-five percent of adults with dyslexia report they were physically abused before they turned 18. In contrast, seven percent of those without dyslexia reported that they had experienced childhood physical abuse.

Even after accounting for age, race, sex, and other early adversities such as parental addictions, childhood physical abuse was still associated with a six-fold increase in the odds of dyslexia. (Esme Fuller-Thomson, professor and Sandra Rotman Endowed Chair at University of Toronto's Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work)

It is important that primary health care providers and school-based practitioners working with children with dyslexia screen them for physical abuse. Dyslexia is a treatable learning disability - however, it's essential to act as soon as possible.

Dyslexia Facts and Statistics


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