Dyslexia and reading

Do you or your child experience problems with ...

  • slow reading
  • word by word reading
  • b/d/p or left/right confusion
  • tracking difficulties
  • poor comprehension
  • fatigue when reading
  • speech and language
  • numbers

These are the symptoms usually associated with 'dyslexia'. This word is used all the time, and everyone seems to recognise it when they see it, but there is actually a lot of confusion and mis-information about what it actually is. Before considering how we can help, it is important to address this question ...

'What is dyslexia'?


(Rudolf Berlin 1833-1897)
The term 'dyslexia' was first used by the German ophthalmologist Rudolf Berlin in the 1860s. He was investigating a group of intelligent patients who had normal eyesight but had difficulty reading printed words on a page. They saw the symbols and words changing, and often read from right to left instead of left to right. British scientists James Hinshelwood and William Broadbent, working around the same time, also found similar visual perception problems with many patients.

There has been lots of research since, looking at lots of different aspects of the problem that some quite normal intelligent people seem to have with reading. 'Dyslexia' is the name given by most of the different researchers - they know what it is when they see it - but it seems that most of them use slightly different definitions of what this 'thing' actually is.

Even now, if you try to find a definition, you will find lots of different ones. Many of these definitions really just tell you about the things that those researchers or testers have been testing for - they 'fit' their method because their definition is set up that way.

One generally accepted but wordy definition is that used by the World Federation of Neurology as part of the World Health Organisation:
"A disorder manifested by difficulty learning to read, despite conventional instruction, adequate intelligence and sociocultural opportunity. It is dependent upon fundamental cognitive disabilities which are frequently of constitutional origin."

But what exactly does this definition really say?
Basically it says that 'dyslexia' is a problem with reading and language that is NOT due to other known factors.

Notice what it does NOT say ...
* It is NOT about getting directions wrong! (but some dyslexic people do this and it seems to be related somehow)
* It is NOT about being 'smart' or 'dumb' - it is a problem that very intelligent people, or not-so-intelligent people, can have!

So what about these 'other factors' that are NOT dyslexia?

They are the things you have to check first and see how much effect they are having before you can be sure you have 'dyslexia' - including visual processing (the 'original' dyslexia??).

That is what the 'Dyslexia and Irlen Clinic' does - look at the whole mix and try to 'peel off' the layers or factors that could be part of the problem. What is left and can't seem to be fixed is probably that mysterious thing the researchers now call 'dyslexia'.

For more information about the 'Process' of diagnosing dyslexia click: here

NEXT >>>> What does colour have to do with dyslexia?