Dyslexia is a term that has been loosely applied to reading disabilities. Specific definitions for dyslexia vary with disciplines. Those in medicine define dyslexia as a condition resulting from neurological, maturational, and genetic causes, while those in psychology relate dyslexia on the basis of the specific reading problems evidenced and give no reference to causation. All disciplines would probably agree that dyslexia is evidenced by persons of otherwise normal intellectual capacity who have not learned to read despite exposure to adequate instruction.


The diagnosis of dyslexia usually begins with an awareness by parents or teachers that a problem in reading exists. A physician is often the first diagnostician to explore the nature of the difficulty. The medical practitioner should investigate the cause of the reading problem by conducting a complete physical examination and obtaining a comprehensive health history. If indicated, the child should be referred for a neurological examination. If dyslexia is suspected, the physician should refer the child for further evaluation and treatment by a specialist in psychoeducational diagnosis.The major purpose of the diagnostic process is to isolate the specific difficulties associated with dyslexia and to suggest appropriate educational intervention. Usually the diagnostician will employ a battery of assessment instruments that explore the relationship of specific reading problems to the intellectual, achievement,perceptual, motoric, linguistic, and adaptive capabilities of the individual. Based on the results, an intervention plan can be implemented by a special educator or remedial reading teacher trained in specialized reading techniques. No one remedial reading method works for all reading disabled students. Therefore it is important that the teacher have mastery of many different techniques.


An individual is identified as dyslexic when a significant discrepancy exists between intellectual ability and reading performance without an apparent physical, emotional, or cultural cause. Common findings in the history include, but are not limited to:

1. family history of reading problems;

2. a predominant occurrence in males (males to females 8:1);

3. an average or above average IQ and, not uncommonly,a proficiency in math:

4. no enjoyment of reading as a leisure activity;

5. problems of letter and word reversal;

6. developmental history of problems in coordination and left/right dominance;

7. poor visual memory for language symbols;

8. auditory language difficulties in word finding, fluency, meaning, or sequence;

9. difficulty transferring information from what is heard to what is seen and vice versa. Specific reading problems associated with dyslexia include difficulty in pronouncing new words, difficulty distinguishing similarities and differences in words (no for on), and difficulty discriminating differences in letter sound (pin, pen). Other problems may include reversal of words and letters, disorganization of word order, poor reading comprehension, and difficulty applying what has been read to social or learning situations.

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