What is Dyslexia: 16 Basic Facts That You Should Know


1. Is dyslexia real?

Many people question if dyslexia in children is a real disability. Some believe that it doesn’t exist, and others question “what is dyslexia?”. As it seems to only affect one’s reading ability, they label it as a simple reading disorder rather than a real learning disability.


2. What is dyslexia?

In 1975, the World Federation of Neurology used the term developmental dyslexia for the first time. The dyslexia definition is: “Dyslexia is a disorder that presents itself in the difficulty to learn to read, regardless of a conventional education, adequate intelligence, and sociocultural opportunities. It depends mainly on the cognitive alterations whose origin is often constitutional.” This description is still used today.

The reading difficulties in children with dyslexia are caused by neural errors:

  • Structural deficiencies in linguistic processing.
  • Deficient function of working memory
  • Low processing speed levels

There are currently some programs like CogniFit Dyslexia, a tool to help treat dyslexia in children by using clinical exercises to improve the cognitive processes and neural errors associated with dyslexia. Reading is a complex process, and doesn’t only require visual representations, but it is also necessary to give meaning to the words and be able to relate them within a sentence.

3. What are the types of dyslexia?

Now that we can answer the question “what is dyslexia”, we can talk more about developmental dyslexia and acquired dyslexia. Acquired dyslexia appears after a brain injury, while developmental dyslexia is more common and happens while the brain is developing. This is the only division that experts agree on.

They have also tried to divide dyslexia into different classes based on the ways that the child learns to read. In spite of these attempts, they haven’t reached an agreement and no official classification has been made.

4. Is dyslexia more common in boys or girls?

Until recently, it was believed that dyslexia was more common in boys than girls, but recent studies have shown that there is very little difference, with boys having only a slightly higher percentage.

5. How common is dyslexia?

It is estimated that more than 10% of the population is dyslexic. This means that in a class of 30 students, at least 3 of them are dyslexic.

Dyslexia is a very common learning disability, and contrary to what many people believe, it doesn’t disappear with age.

This pathology is often confused with lack of interest or motivation. When a student doesn’t get good grades, it is easy to think that they are not making an effort, that they are lazy or immature, that they don’t want to work at home, or that they don’t want to study. Even worse, this difficulty may be attributed to a lack of ability, or more plainly, that the child is “dumb”.

There are hardly any strategies implemented in schools to detect dyslexia, so it is likely that the system caused many people to believe they were less capable than others, that they were worse students, and that they were less intelligent. When, in reality, dyslexia is not associated at all to intelligence level.

6. Is dyslexia hereditary?

Many genetic factors play a role in dyslexia, so it could easily be inherited. 40% of children that have a sibling with dyslexia will have the same learning disability. When one of the children is affected by this difficulty, it is likely that one of the parents has it as well.

7. Dyslexia is a neurobiological learning disorder

Dyslexia is a learning disability with a neurobiological origin. It is the most common neurodevelopmental disorder, which presents itself when learning reading and writing and makes it difficult for the reader to process writing and orthography.

Dyslexia happens in the first evolutionary stages: As the brain is developing, some of its independent modules undergo an alteration, which impedes the neural structure used in language processing from responding normally. People with dyslexia have a structural dysfunction in a determined nervous network in a specific independent module in the brain that prevents them from correctly processing information.

This disorder was previously interpreted as a visual disorder, but as time went on, it was confirmed that it is actually due to a structural deficit in the neuronal connections that make up language.

8. Can dyslexia also be a problem with perception?

In the 60s, there was a tendency to think that learning disabilities were caused by hearing and sight problems. Many experts went back to look as possible causes of dyslexia, and thought it may be related to vision problems. The doctors Golberg, Helveston, and Levine showed that children who suffer from dyslexia had the same problems as those without, which led them to reject the theory.

9. Relationship between ADHD and dyslexia

There have been both cognitive and neuroanatomical relationships made between ADHD and dyslexia.

Various studies argue that the relationship between ADHD and dyslexia is due to the shared involvement of working memory.


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is often seen with dyslexia, but it may be in any of its forms:

  • Predominantly inattentive ADHD
  • Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive ADHD
  • Combined ADHD with all three nuclear symptoms

It is important to identify if the child has both ADHD and dyslexia because the intervention and treatment program will be different.

The student who suffers from dyslexia will have to make an effort on their reading and writing homework, which will be tiring, making them lose concentration, get distracted, and want to avoid doing these kinds of assignments. Because of this, the two disorders are often confused.

10. Diagnosis and symptoms of dyslexia

If the child is over 9 years-old and has multiple symptoms, they likely have dyslexia.

They have a hard time reading uncommon and separated words.

They make a lot of mistakes when they read, and they go very slowly.

Orthographical problems

Small linguistic mistakes

They have a hard time naming objects

Long history of reading and writing problems

They make a lot of mistakes on multiple choice tests

If the child has these symptoms, you should see a specialist to do more thorough testing.

11. Can you make an early dyslexia diagnosis?

It is natural to think that a child may have dyslexia when they learn to read and have a hard time, but in spite of these indicators, it is impossible to know for sure whether a child will have dyslexia or not from a young age. Learning slowly may also be related to a developmental delay.

12. Dyslexia prevention

You can interfere at the first signs of dyslexia and establish a therapy based on the principles of learning to read: promoting phonological skills and word recognition. It’s important to do a diagnosis early on and act on the first signs of a learning disability.

13. Is there a cure for dyslexia?

The learning difficulties caused by dyslexia are chronic and will be apparent throughout the sufferer’s entire life, but its impact may change. Complications when expressing oneself and the consequences specific to this disorder may change as an adult. Adults with dyslexia can read properly, but they have a harder time than someone without it. In order to get to this point, you have to have an intense and persistent therapy during childhood.

14. Does dyslexia have biological markers?

It’s true that in recent years there have been multiple studies based on genetic evidence and neuroimaging tests that can explain the structural and anatomic aspects of dyslexia, but these biological markers are not normalized for diagnosis.

Dyslexia diagnosis is currently centered around studying the clinical history of the patient and assessing the results of different psychometric results. One of the most used tools by professionals for the neuropsychological assessment of dyslexia is CogniFit. This tool exhaustively explores the brain functions associated with dyslexia and identifies the presence of alterations or cognitive disorders.

15. Suggestions to help dyslexic children in school

Make the child know you understand their difficulties and that you will support them.

Help them properly pronounce words.

Don’t hold them to the same reading level as their classmates.

Make sure they’ve understood the text they’ve read.

Positively reinforce them when they ask questions.

Give them oral tests if possible.

Don’t make them read in front of other children.

Give them less reading and writing homework.

Accept that they have problems concentrating and paying attention.

We recommend that you practice these fun games and exercises as a family to improve dyslexia and have fun together.

Treating child dyslexia through scientifically validated clinical exercises is fundamental to be able to boost executive functions and improve reading ease and error detection.

16. Are dyslexic children less intelligent?

Not at all! The visual thinking for dyslexic children is 400 to 2000 times faster than their verbal thinking, and it is more complete. As an adult, many dyslexics have had promising careers in architecture, sculpture, and design, because they can visualize what they want to do before doing it.

Molly is a writer specialized in health and psychology. She is passionate about neuroscience and how the brain works, and is constantly looking for new content from interesting sources. Molly is happy to give or take advice, and is always working to educate and inspire.

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