Scientists May Have Finally Found Out What Causes Dyslexia

Image from disabilitiesunlimited.org

There are many different types of learning disorders that affect a significant amount of the world population. They are generally described as neurologically-based processing problems. Many of these disorders stem from an inability to learn and process certain types of information in the same way as everyone else. It does not mean that they cannot learn and be as intelligent as anyone else, they simply have a difficulty in understanding things because they are presented for people without learning disorders.

One such learning disorder is dyscalculia, which affects an individual’s ability to learn and understand mathematical concepts ranging from numbers to facts. Individuals with dyscalculia may also have difficulty telling the time. There is also dysgraphia, which affects an individual’s ability to grasp fine motor skills, like handwriting. They may have illegible handwriting and be unable to write and think at the same time for compositional writing.

Among the many different kinds of learning disorders and related disorders, like attention deficit disorder, they all share a few things in common. They require substantial practice and numerous learning strategies to adjust to how learning is generally taught. They affect the individual’s life outside of learning because they could affect communication with other people, in cases of auditory processing disorder, or understanding the many different signs that we have telling us a wide array of information that might include safety information.

Many of these disorders also have debilitating social stigmas attached to them. There are stereotypes that include being unintelligent, “slow”, and disruptive to normal behavior. To help society remove these stigmas and help individuals with these disorders adjust better to life, researchers are looking into how these disorders form, how can they be better treated, and if we can prevent them from affecting individuals. Recently, researchers looked into dyslexia to address these concerns and may have found the cause of it.

What Is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a learning disorder that affects a person’s ability to understand speech sounds and how they relate to letters and words. It affects the part of the brain important for language processing. There is no cure for dyslexia and identifying it earlier rather than later is the best way to ensure that someone with the disorder receives the appropriate help that allows them to learn as well as anyone else.

There are no single ways of identifying dyslexia in an individual. To do so, doctors and parents, to seek medical assistance, can look for certain symptoms that can be indicative of dyslexia. In young children, before they start school, there may be difficulty in learning how to read, late taking, or learning new words. For school-age children, symptoms can be reading below the expected reading age, difficulty learning new words, or difficulty seeing differences between certain letters.

In teens and adults, symptoms are similar to younger children and they may also include difficulty summarizing readings, avoiding readings, or inability to understand phrases and idioms. There are many other potential symptoms that could be indicative of dyslexia and sometimes not all symptoms mean that someone has dyslexia. Diagnosis takes some time and effort to ensure that the correct issue is identified.

Once diagnosed, dyslexia is treated through educational techniques and approaches. Working with professionals in medical and educational settings, parents and teachers can create learning environments that allow someone with dyslexia to showcase their intelligence. Some learning techniques include using their other senses. They may have recording devices to listen to recordings of lessons or they trace letters and words to understand how they should be shaped. These help to reinforce their understanding of words and improve their ability to read. The best way to ensure that treatments are successful is to start as young as possible and to offer ample emotional support. In a learning with other children, dyslexia can lead to stress, isolation, and self-esteem issues. Having emotional support and treatment allow an individual to flourish and succeed.

Dyslexia runs in the family and it is thought that there is a genetic component to the disorder, making it heritable. Other risk factors may be drug exposure as a fetus or premature birth. Its causes are not clearly understood and recently, researchers have made a breakthrough into the mechanics of dyslexia.

Example of OpenDyslexic typeface, which is used to help individuals with dyslexia. Image from Wikipedia

The Recently Discovered Cause Of Dyslexia

While we have an understanding of how dyslexia works as a disorder, we did not know how it works mechanically in our bodies. Researchers from the University of Rennes, France, examined 30 adults without dyslexia and 30 adults with dyslexia. The researchers looked at the arrangement of the cone cells, cells in our eyes responsible for seeing colors, in the eyes of these cohorts and found major differences. In the adults without dyslexia, they found that one eye had a particular arrangement and the other eye had a different arrangement. In adults with dyslexia, they found that both eyes had the same arrangement of cone cells. Knowing that dyslexia has genetic components and that there are physiological changes in the eyes, this helps further researchers in pinpointing the location of dyslexia-causing genes in the DNA.

Broca’s Area. Part of brain associated with speech, and overused in some cases of dyslexia. Image from Wikipedia

This symmetrical nature of dyslexia could also become an important tool in diagnosis, potentially allowing earlier diagnosis and improving educational techniques used in treatments. The symmetrical arrangements also cause the brain to process identical information from the eyes, creating “mirror images”. These images may be implicated in the confusion that individuals with dyslexia have certain letters and numbers. In terms of treatments, the researchers also found that one of the mirror images can be canceled out using flickering lights, not visible to the human eye, and that can restore the reading ability of individual dyslexia.

This is not a long-term solution as it requires continuous use of the flickering lights, but it is a start and an easier solution for affected individuals. More research is needed to understand the mechanics of dyslexia and with this new information, better treatment options can be offered. As time goes on, we may even be able to prevent or eliminate the problems with dyslexia.

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2 Comments

  • This is fake news. Check out the research. Dyslexia is hereditary; it is carried on the 13th chromosome. It has nothing to do with eyesight. We cannot believe you are reporting this as news. You are hurting children who need specialized tutoring for their learning difference by causing parents to think there might be an “easy” fix to dyslexia.

  • I agree…. plus the study itself is quite flawed in it’s approach. Dyslexia is hereditary and has been proven scientifically. There are programs to help self-correct and take the dyslexia into account when it occurs. There are no magic “cures.”

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