Home > Useful Links > For Parents > Demystifying Dyslexia > What causes Dyslexia?

What causes Dyslexia?

(Source from -http://www.dyslexiaa2z.com/whatcauses.html)


Dyslexia was identified over a century ago, yet little was found out about the causes of dyslexia until the formation of the British Dyslexia Association (BDA) 25 years ago.

One of the earlier assumptions used to be that dyslexia was a middle class disease. This came about because people from the middle income bracket could afford to have their children tested for dyslexia, which left people from disadvantaged backgrounds often put down as slow or backward.

Thankfully, these assumptions no longer exist due to a plethora of research being carried out into the causes of dyslexia.

You can see from the following research, published in the British Dyslexia Newsletter, in October 1999 that it is now accepted in medical circles, that the dyslexic brain is different.

*Two major pieces or research hit the headline last summer. The first, from Southern Illinois University, claimed that by monitoring the responses of a new born infant to sounds, it was possible to tell whether the child would grow up to be dyslexic.

The researchers said they accurately picked out 22 of the 24 dyslexics among 186 children whose brain waves were monitored 36 hours after birth.

Speech and non-speech sounds were played, while scientists monitored the sex and speed of the new-born's brainwave responses, through electrodes attached to the babies' scalps.

Every two years until they were eight, the children then sat IQ and comprehension tests. By the age of eight, the dyslexic youngsters could then be identified.

The method was not foolproof, however - five out of 24 readers with a similar brain wave pattern to the dyslexics were found to have normal reading skills by their eight birthdays.

The BDA response was to welcome these findings cautiously, stressing that the interesting new research further endorsed the fact that the dyslexic brain is different, and emphasizing a special focus on language skills at a young age to help dyslexic children when they start matching letters to sounds as they begin reading.

In the first week of September, a report was published about the finding of a gene location for dyslexia by an international team of scientists. The report was based on studies of a large Norwegian family, many of whom experienced reading and writing difficulties.

The scientist found that 11 family members shared an oddity in a small region of chromosome two, one of 23 pairs of chromosomes found in every human cell.

The gene joins another which has been identified by British researchers on chromosome six, and two others on chromosomes one and 15, building up a picture of dyslexia as a syndrome caused by several environmental and inherited factors.

The BDA stressed that there has always been plentiful anecdotal evidence suggesting dyslexia ran in families - many adults only discover their own problems when their children's difficulties were identified - and welcomed the suggestion that the areas of the brain responsible for language development are relatively plastic in the early years of life.

It is now indisputable that dyslexia is a neurological condition whose symptoms are most often demonstrated with difficulties in reading, writing, spelling and sometimes numeracy.

*BDA Bulletin October 1999

I believe that one of the major advances in dyslexia will be made in the area of genetics and it may not be too long before babies are tested at birth thereby enabling help to be given at a very early age.