What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia affects about one in every ten people in the world, although the exact number is difficult to know because many cases are not diagnosed. Dyslexia is a learning difficulty. This means that a dyslexic person processes and learns information in a different way to normal. People with dyslexia are not less intelligent, but they often have problems with reading and writing. This means that they can struggle with traditional classroom learning.


In dyslexia, the brain develops in a slightly different way to the brain of a person who does not have dyslexia. The exact causes aren’t known, but scientists think it might be due to a person’s genes. Genes are segments of DNA that act as instructions to tell the body how to develop. Some evidence for this is that you are more likely to have dyslexia if a close family member has dyslexia.

Brain scans show that people with dyslexia have different brain activity compared to people without dyslexia. When reading, people with dyslexia show activity in different areas of their brains – showing that dyslexia isn’t just because of differences in the structure of the brain but also how it is being used.

Understanding the causes of dyslexia proves that it is neither a disease nor a choice.

It is important to remember that dyslexia does not mean that the person is less intelligent, or is incapable of learning. Dyslexics have general problems with  learning and processing written information. However, dyslexics  can still learn in a classroom, if some adjustments are made. A person with dyslexia only has problems with written information – so they may find it easier to learn if the information is given to them in a different way.


Dyslexia can cause improvements in some areas as well as difficulties in others. People with dyslexia are better at paying attention to whole objects instead of specific details. This can be helpful for certain jobs. For example, a study found that scientists with dyslexia were better at finding black holes in pictures of space. Albert Einstein, a famous physicist, had dyslexia. Another benefit is spatial reasoning, which is understanding the relationship between different objects in space. This could make people with dyslexia good at engineering or architecture. Several celebrities have dyslexia, including the actress and presenter Whoopi Goldberg, who once said “the advantage of dyslexia is that my brain puts information in my head in a different way”.



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