What Is Dyslexia

Dyslexia is a learning disability that can hinder a person’s ability to read, write, and spell. It is the most common learning disability in children and persists throughout life. The severity of dyslexia can vary from mild to severe.

What Causes Dyslexia

The causes of dyslexia are neurobiological (having to do with the way the brain is formed and how it functions) and genetic (passed down through families). Dyslexia may also be acquired due to other conditions, such as Stroke.

Language Center of the Brain

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Risk Factors For Dyslexia

Because dyslexia runs in families, tell your doctor if you have family members that have dyslexia.

Diagnosing Dyslexia

Your doctor will ask about your or your child’s symptoms and medical history, and do a physical exam (including hearing and vision tests). You may then be referred to an expert in learning disabilities, such as a school psychologist or learning specialist, for additional testing.

Tests given by the specialist may include the following:

  • Cognitive processing tests (measure of thinking ability)
  • IQ test (measure of intellectual functioning)
  • Tests to measure speaking, reading, spelling, and writing skills

Symptoms of Dyslexia

If you or your child has any of the following symptoms, do not assume it is due to dyslexia. These symptoms may be caused by other conditions. Tell your doctor if you have any of these:

  • Difficulty in the following areas
    • Learning to speak
    • Reading and writing at grade level
    • Organizing written and spoken language
    • Learning letters and their sounds
    • Learning number facts
    • Spelling
    • Learning a foreign language
    • Correctly doing math problems


There is little that can be done to prevent dyslexia, especially if it runs in your family. However, early identification and treatment can reduce its effects. The sooner children with dyslexia get special education services, the fewer problems they will have learning to read and write at grade level. Under US federal law, free testing and special education services are available for children in the public school system.

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