What Causes dyslexia


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While the exact causes of dyslexia have not been conclusively established yet, the overall picture that emerges from research suggests that inherited factors and hearing problems in early childhood are what causes dyslexia.

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Inherited causes

It has become quite clear that dyslexia is often found in families, and frequently, left handedness is also detected somewhere in these families.

In recent years, a lot of technical advances have been made in brain scanning, and the brains of dyslexic people have been examined in the course of research. It has been found that bunches of cells lying below the brain’s surface, lie on the brain’s surface in non dyslexic persons.

The cells normally ought to have traveled to the brain’s surface when the brain was growing in the foetus, but failed to do so for some reason. Subsequently, these groups of cells are found mainly in the front and the left of the brain, which are the areas critical for reading and writing.

Moreover, the area of the brain that enables people to see moving images, the magno cellular system, is found to be smaller in dyslexic people’s brains. This may be what causes dyslexia as it makes reading harder, since in reading the brain needs to figure out the letters and words rapidly as the eyes scan the words and the sentences.

Hearing problems in early childhood

Often, a child experiences throat infections and colds frequently during his/her first five years, when the ears get blocked at times and hearing may be impaired. This problem may go undetected until a doctor examines the child’s ear. If this condition, known as ‘conductive hearing loss’ is not detected early, then the child’s developing brain fails to connect the links in the sounds that they hear, and this may be what causes dyslexia when the child starts learning to read.

The ability to grasp sounds and words is basic to the child’s growing ability to cope with language. If the child is not able to hear clearly, he will not be able to make out the difference in words like ‘van’ and ‘fan’, or ‘thin’ and ‘pin’. The inability to hear clearly will hamper the child’s phonemic awareness, and may be what causes dyslexia in the child. Phonemic awareness is hearing the small sounds and syllables that make up a word, c-a-t for cat.

A delayed development of phonemic awareness leads to lifelong difficulties in the form of dyslexia, unless it is corrected at the earliest stage. To treat this problem a tiny tube is inserted into the child’s ear, which causes the fluid to drain off so the child can hear normally again. Removing the tonsils, which often cause repeated infections, is another treatment.

Combination of factors

A child may inherit the genes that make him susceptible to difficulties in dealing with printed words, and the same child may also experience hearing problems at an early stage. The combination of factors may be what causes dyslexia in him/her, and in fact they may be found to be severely dyslexic, requiring constant support through school and college and later in the workplace.


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