Dyslexia, like ADHD, is caused by an under-developed cerebellum, and is an Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Many people who have it will also have other AS disorders, and be related to people with ASD. Most people think of Dyslexia as being only a reading disorder, or reading disability. In fact the word Dyslexia is made up of the two words Dys- meaning bad or wrong, and Lex- meaning word.
And it is a reading disorder, but the poor reading is only part of the story. What is less well-known about the reading disability part of dyslexia, is that it is caused by poor eye-tracking. A neurotypical person will be able to read from left to right quite happily, but a dyslexic person’s eyes will not be able to stay fixed on the horizontal line of text. The eye-tracking will jump about, and not only read words out of order, but also read words from the lines above and below the line; sometimes with funny consequences:
I saw a movie poster the other day that read:
“Contains strong language
bloody violence, hard drug
use and sexual threat”
I initially read it as: “Contains bloody strong language…”!
And quite often I read upside-down, meaning that if I see a sign with only two or three lines, I will often read the last line first, and then the sign makes no sense to begin with. I have to proofread long blog posts about 20 times, and keep making amendments. Please forgive any typos, and let me know about them in the comments if possible.
Not just a Reading Disability
The documentary program above, with Kara Tointon (this is 1 of 4 parts), highlights more of the problems dyslexics face; especially with auditory memory, that uses the short term or working memory.
People with Dyslexia will often have signs and symptoms of Dyspraxia and ADHD/ADD too, as it also produces poor working memory. The video above does not mention ADHD, although she clearly has signs of it as well as Dyslexia. But most people view ADHD to mean “retarded”, so the term “Dyslexia” is more acceptable to use in a program like this.
As Dyslexia also produces poor hand-eye co-ordination for a lot of people, (although the whole body is affected) this means the sufferer also has dyspraxia, also known as Clumsy Child Disorder. Dyspraxia is also a condition found in many people with ADHD.
One thing many dyslexic people have trouble with is spelling, because they cannot form visual pictures of words that are required for spelling. I can form these pictures of words easily so I was always relatively good at spelling. But this meant I was not diagnosed with dyslexia until I was 38. I also found the diagnosis hard to believe because of this, until I realized how eye-tracking in Dyslexia works.
What I did not know until adulthood was how slow a reader I am. In fact when I was at school, sharing a book with the person sitting next to me, I didn’t believe them when they insisted they had read both pages already!
But I have always read a book at the same speed that I speak, and I thought everyone else did too, until I was diagnosed. This explains why I always ran out of time to write everything in exams, although I was confident I knew the subject well. It also explains why I struggled so much at college (where I would have qualified for a free home computer if I’d known I was dyslexic!)