Fact sheet on dyslexia and comorbid disorders with Aspergers and Autism, two Autism Spectrum Disorders


Dyslexia is a condition or learning disability which causes difficulty with reading and writing. Its standard definition is a difficulty in reading and writing in spite of normal development of intelligence, cognitive and sensory abilities. Dyslexia is not limited to reversing the order of letters in reading or writing. Nor is it a visual perception deficit that involves reading letters or words backwards or upside down, as is often implied in popular culture.


Researchers have claimed that it is a brain-based condition with biochemical and genetic markers. Current scientific theories focus on the hypothesis that dyslexia stems from a deficit in phonological awareness. This hypothesis suggests that affected individuals have difficulty analyzing the words they hear into discrete segments (such as phonemes), which in turn leads to difficulty learning spelling-sound correspondences.

Others have questioned whether dyslexia is no more than a mythological construct and argue that researchers that rely on the concept fail to recognize neurodiversity. Its diagnostic status remains highly debated in both medicine and the social sciences.


Characteristics of Dyslexia

Dyslexia’s main manifestation is a difficulty in developing reading skills in elementary school children. Those difficulties result from reduced ability to associate visual symbols with verbal sounds. While motivational factors must also be reviewed in assessing poor performance, dyslexia is considered to be present from birth. Most scientific criteria for dyslexia exclude cases that can be explained as arising from environmental factors such as lack of education or sensory deficits.

Children with dyslexia usually appear bright, intelligent, and articulate but are unable to read, write, or spell at an age-appropriate level. They will generally have average or above average intelligence, yet may have poor academic achievement. They may have good oral language abilities but will perform much more poorly on similar written-language tests. They might be labeled lazy, dumb, careless, immature, “not trying hard enough,” or as having a “behavior problem.”

Because dyslexia primarily affects reading while sparing other intellectual abilities, affected individuals might be categorized as not “behind enough” or “bad enough” to receive additional help in a school setting.
Children may try to hide their reading weaknesses with ingenious compensatory “strategies”, and might learn best through hands-on experience, demonstrations, experimentation, observation, and visual aids. They can show talents in other areas such as art, drama, music, sports, mechanics, story-telling, sales, business, designing, building, or engineering.

Have related problems with inattention in a school setting; for instance they might seem to “zone out” or daydream often; get lost easily or lose track of time; and have difficulty sustaining attention. Although they are different conditions, dyslexia co-occurs with attention deficit disorders (ADD or ADHD) at a rate of 30-50%.


Treatment of Dyslexia

Dyslexia can be substantially compensated for with proper therapy, training, and equipment. Only traditional educational remedial techniques have any record of improving the reading ability of those identified with dyslexia. Remedial efforts focusing on phonological awareness training (often involving breaking words into their basic sounds and rearranging these sounds to produce different words) can improve reading skills. The earlier the phonological regimen is taken on, the better the overall result. There is evidence that colored lenses, any visual training, or similar proposed treatments may be of use. It will depend on the phonological and visual components of the particular patient’s problem.


Causes of Dyslexia

Researchers studying the brains of dyslexics have found that during reading tasks, dyslexics show reduced activity in the left inferior parietal cortex. In 1979, anatomical differences in the brain of a young dyslexic were documented. Albert Galaburda of Harvard Medical School noticed that the language center in a dyslexic brain showed microscopic flaws known as ectopias and microgyria. Another study regarding genetic regions on chromosomes 1 and 6 have been found that might be linked to dyslexia. Dyslexia is likely to be a conglomeration of conditions that all affect similar and associated areas of the cortex.


Closing button for this autism information

Click here for the full range of Asperger's and autism fact sheets at www.autism-help.org
This autism fact sheet is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation. It is derivative of an autism and Asperger's syndrome-related articles at http://en.wikipedia.org

Dyslexia can be co-morbid with Autism Spectrum Disorders such as Aspergers and Autism