• problems with spelling

• problems with the order of letters in words

• trouble rhyming words

• difficulty with pronouncing words

• delay in speaking

• delay in learning the alphabet, numbers, days of the week, months, colors, shapes, and other basic information

• difficulty understanding subtleties of language such as jokes or slang


Modern experts believe dyslexia may be caused by differences in brain structure and function present since birth, with a strong genetic component. A number of studies have indicated a strong heri-tability for dyslexia, predominantly among boys within a family. in general, the ratio of males to females identified with dyslexia is about four to one. Because of this, the role of the hormone testosterone before birth is being investigated as a possible cause of inherited dyslexia.

The reading difficulties associated with dyslexia are not related to intelligence or motivation; students often possess unusual talents, especially in areas that require visual, spatial, and motor skills. This disorder is not due to a physical disability, such as a visual problem. instead, it is a problem in how the brain processes the information as the individual is reading.

Traditional definitions of dyslexia have relied on an unexpected gap between learning aptitude and achievement in school, particularly in the area of reading. However, contemporary research has indicated that difficulties or delays in developing awareness of sounds and processing abilities play a primary factor in the development of the reading problems associated with dyslexia. Word-finding difficulties are a second factor in the case of some individuals with severe reading difficulties.

Dyslexia is the most researched and most fully understood of all the learning disabilities. Some research links it to low levels of the brain chemical dopamine. Still a great many research questions remain unanswered.


Although dyslexia is a lifelong condition, with appropriate instruction individuals with dyslexia may largely overcome their reading difficulties. individuals with a reading disability most often benefit from a language program that provides direct instruction in understanding the lettersound system. The earlier this instruction is given, the greater the chance the person will become a fluent reader.

Typically, the more senses that can be used when learning something, the better the person will learn. For individuals with reading disabilities, it is important to learn as much as possible by seeing, hearing, writing, and speaking. For example, a teacher of students with this disability can provide a written outline of the day's lecture in addition to giving the lecture itself. Books on tape can help someone access literature with all of its benefits, including vocabulary and ideas.

parents of children with reading disabilities can encourage their children to read by providing reading materials on subjects in which they have an interest. Several decades of teacher-based and clinical research support the need for a multisensory, sequential, phonetic-based approach to reading instruction as the essential foundation for the development of reading skills. For example, a student learning the consonant blend "bl" might listen to the sound while looking at the letters, then say it aloud while tracing the two letters on a rough-board. This method of instruction increases the chance that the information will be stored and retained in long-term memory.

There is no total cure, but the effects can be eased by skilled specialized teaching of phonics, sequencing, and techniques to raise the person's self-esteem. Given proper support, dyslexic students are able to go on to college and pursue successful careers. (For contact information see learning disability; Appendix I.)

dyspraxia A general term used to describe a range of different conditions involving difficulty with learned patterns of movement ("motor planning") without any muscle or nerve damage. In some cases dyspraxia is used to describe coordination problems, gross-motor, and fine-motor body

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