History Of Dyslexia

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It is important to have some knowledge about the history of dyslexia if you want to go deep inside the roots of the disorder. Many practitioners and therapists choose to deal only with the modern theories and arguments but it should be noted that some of the most fundamental concepts behind the theory come from historical events. If you have an overview of early medical practices and the development of the disorder, it would help you correlate events when you are trying to identify specific cases. If you do decide to turn the pages of the history books, you would see that dyslexia has a relatively short history that can be surmised into a few specific events and developments.

Early Conceptions And Practices:

Once you start looking through the history of dyslexia, you would see that the disorder was relatively unknown till the middle of the nineteenth century. A German neurologist, Adolph Kussmaul, worked with several adults suffering with reading difficulties. He coined the term ‘alexia’ or ‘word blindness’ around 1878 to reflect the nature of the disorder. This term kept on being used in several medical journals. However, no prominent cause was still discovered except for its direct relations with certain forms of neurological impairment. Cases continued to be reported and categorized under the general term of ‘word blindness’ in the history of dyslexia, until further developments were carried out.

The Report Of Dr. Dejerne:

A milestone in the history of dyslexia came about in 1891 as Dr. Dejerne published a report in ‘The Lancet’ medical journal about a patient who had lost powers of reading and language functions after a brain injury. The term ‘dyslexia’ was already coined by Rudolf Berlin in 1887 but this was the first time that the reports attributed the disorder to a cause, a form of brain injury. Cases published in other journals confirmed the connection leading to a major advancement in the history of dyslexia where the theories of reading disabilities being linked to brain dysfunctionality were accepted.

Contribution Of Dr. James Hinshelwood:

The Dejerne report opened up a new phase in the history of dyslexia regarding specific medical evaluation and analysis of the disorder. The British surgeon James Hinshelwood published his works in ‘The Lancet’ in 1895 where he talked about the relation of verbal memory and word blindness. His most significant contribution came in 1917 where he published a book called ‘Congenital Word Blindness’ where he described the visual association of words and images in memory. He also spoke about the reversal of letters and certain other symptoms which are attributed to the disorder today but were unknown considering the history of dyslexia at that time.

Recent Discoveries And Developments:

The history of dyslexia has advanced in leaps and bounds in the recent period because of focused medical research on specific conditions of the disorder. Neuroimaging techniques like PET and fMRI developed in the 1980-1990 period have been able to process neural signals and identify distinct patterns in both normal and affected conditions. Experimental approaches on phonic processing and orthographic typesets have been successful in developing new methods of treatment. The most recent history of dyslexia deals with alphabetic scripts, cognitive sub groups and innovations in assistive technology to help make the life of people suffering from the disorder a lot easier.

It is interesting to see that the growth pattern of knowledge and awareness lay dormant for long periods of time but underwent a large scale activity in the span of a century. Increase in case reports, testing procedures and medical technology can only point to better rates of success where the history of dyslexia would be treated as the guiding path to pave the way for a better future.

What is Dyslexia