What is Dyslexia?
The word ‘Dyslexia’ comes from the original Latin prefix ‘dis’ meaning both ‘lack of’ and ‘not’ and the Greek word ‘lexis’ meaning ‘word’ so it means a ‘difficulty with words’. This specific difficulty was initially flagged up in print by a medical doctor, Dr W. Pringle Morgan who in 1896 published an article in the British Medical Journal titled, ‘A case of congenital word blindness’ in which he described a fourteen year old patient of his called Percy who was a ‘bright, intelligent boy quick at games and in no way inferior to others but who spelt his name as Precy’ and ‘words written make no impression to his mind’. Dr W. Pringle Morgan would be delighted to see how support has developed for people such as Percy over the past one hundred and twenty years.
We now recognise Dyslexia as being a specific learning difficulty defined by the British Dyslexia Association in 2007 as:
‘Mainly affecting the development of literacy and language skills, it is likely to be present at birth and has life-long effects. It is characterised by difficulties with phonological processing, rapid naming, working memory, processing speed and the automatic development of skills that may not match up to an individual’s other abilities.’
And the presence of Dyslexia may now be assessed using recognised standardised assessment tools probing the individual’s: speed of processing both by reading aloud and silently and their writing speed and accuracy and various aspects of their working memory including their verbal, phonological and visual memory and also including their speed of coding digits to symbols.
If this very detailed information leads to a diagnosis, a teaching plan can be drawn up to support the individual’s weaker processing areas and to accelerate the development of their strengths to ease the frustration they are generally experiencing due to finding reading and writing so difficult.
Research has identified certain genes which predispose people to developing Dyslexia which appears to explain why it tends to run in families. It is amazing how many parents describe their own difficulties at school and beyond when they discuss the problems their child is encountering.