Behavioural problems and learning disabilities

Dyslexia (word blindness)

What is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a learning disability, which mainly causes reading, spelling and writing problems. ‘Dys’ means disturbed functioning and ‘lexia’ means word, which is why dyslexia is sometimes called word blindness. The official definition is: a specific learning disability characterised by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. Dyslexia can occur in both children and adults.

Information is organised differently in the brain of people who are dyslexic than in those who are not. Reading and writing normally involves three areas in the left part of the brain. Dyslexic children use those three areas too, but the activity varies by area. For example, non-dyslexics mainly use the part of the brain that is suitable for analysing words (the parieto-temporal region), while dyslexics do not use this area as much. When reading and writing, they mainly depend on the area that is involved in articulation and silent reading (the so-called inferior frontal gyrus).

What causes dyslexia?

The exact cause of dyslexia has not yet been identified. However, it is clear that the ability to link letters and sounds in the brains of people with dyslexia is disturbed. We still do not know exactly how. Dyslexia is a congenital disorder. Children whose parents are dyslexic are four times more likely to be dyslexic as well.

Symptoms related to dyslexia

Dyslexics notably have problems learning to read and spell and applying those skills. They write letters backwards or in the wrong sequence and spell or read words incorrectly. They spend an unusually long time completing simple calculations and mistakes are made. There are different severity levels of dyslexia. Dyslexics don’t necessarily have serious learning difficulties; in general, people with dyslexia usually have trouble with the following:

  • Processing letters and sounds (information)
  • Converting letters (visual) into sounds (auditory)
  • Learning ‘dry’ facts
  • Automatically applying relevant knowledge when doing written and oral tasks; for instance, they have to concentrate hard when reading a text.
  • The pace, the complex tasks and concentrating when doing written and/or oral tasks

Symptoms may vary by age group. It is a misconception that dyslexics are not very intelligent. That is not true. Einstein, for instance, was dyslexic. Many people with dyslexia are more inquisitive than average, they make better use of their senses and they are adept at using their intuition.


Nicky (4) beats speech disorder

During her second visit she already uttered her first words

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