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Causes and Characteristics of Dyslexia

Although the term dyslexia is frequently used by doctors, psychological researchers and linguists to describe children with language disabilities, there is still lack of consistent agreement concerning its causes and characteristics. In general, however, dyslexia is defined as a "disorder in children who, despite conventional classroom experience, fail to attain the language skills of reading, writing, and spelling proportional to their intellectual abilities" (Gaddes, 1980, 222).

Dyslexic children are often described as clumsy, forgetful, disorganized, and hyperactive by their families, teachers and peers (Savage, 1985, 222). Along with these descriptions of the general character, it has also been observed that dyslexic children make characteristic reading, writing and spelling errors.

One of the main reasons why dyslexics have difficulty reading is because they have poor memories. In the normal learning process memory plays an important role. The brain receives information and attaches meaning to it. Information is also stored in a person's memory which makes learning easier because this information can be produced to read, answer questions, and solve problems (Savage, 1985, 520). Because dyslexics have inadequate memory capacities they have trouble holding symbols in their minds long enough to process them into meaningful language forms. Even when the sensory organ receives the message correctly, it can become mixed up, and although the dyslexic may know the meaning of the symbol they often confuse its directional orientation. As a result the dyslexic may call a "b" a "d" or a "p" a "q." Similarly, they know that the word "was" is either "was" or "saw," but they are uncertain of its proper direction (Levinson, 1984, 99).

A phenomenon called mirror writing is another factor involved in the dyslexic's deficiency in reading. In mirror writing all or some of the symbols of printed words appear in reverse so that, f...

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