What is dyslexia?

Dyslexia Defined

There are thousands of articles and books about dyslexia, but what is the truth, and how do we know what we should really do to help those who are diagnosed with dyslexia? The definition varies from one author to another. Some believe dyslexia is a visual problem and overlay sheets will solve the problem; others think it is environmental and a change in diet will help. There are claims that dyslexia can be cured in 6 weeks with brain exercises, and then there are those who claim that dyslexia doesn't exist. Fortunately, there are scientists who have studied dyslexia and are becoming more knowledgeable about the disorder.


The International Dyslexia Association, the National Reading Panel, the Orton Dyslexia Society Research Committee, and the National Institutes of Health all have similar definitions. All seem to agree with the idea that there is a specific characteristic in the brain and a difference from the typical brain in the way the brain functions, not in the way the brain is structured. Most agree that individuals with dyslexia have an average to above average intellectual ability. Dyslexia is also believed to be an inherited trait. There has been evidence based on functional brain imaging that the left hemisphere posterior brain systems fail to function properly during reading.


Dyslexia is a specific type of learning disability or reading disorder. Dyslexia only involves reading, writing, and spelling. An individual with dyslexia often has other problems that are associated with ADHD, dysgraphia (writing), dyscalculia (math), and speech or language problems. When an individual has these associated problems, they may be considered learning disabled in a more general sense. An individual with dyslexia can be learning disabled, but not all learning disabled individuals are dyslexic.