What is dyslexia and how does it affect childhood?

Find out about dyslexia and its impact on childhood. We tell you what it is, what the most common symptoms are and its effect during the early stages of life.

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You may have heard people speak about dyslexia at some point in your life, particularly during your schooldays. But what is it exactly? If we adhere to the definition, dyslexia is a specific learning disorder which is characterised by a deterioration in one’s ability to recognise words, by slow or uncertain reading and by poor comprehension. It is estimated that the disorder affects approximately one in every ten children, occasionally being the cause of failure at school. It is essential to learn about dyslexia in order to be able to detect it early and thereby prevent greater complications in the future.  

How can it be detected?

Knowing how to detect dyslexia and its effects may benefit the sufferer’s development. That is why one needs to understand that dyslexia does not just make reading and writing difficult, but that people with this disorder can also have difficulties with their processing speed, with visual and/or auditory perception and with motor skills, as well as with their short-term memory, organisation and oral language.

Let’s find out about the main symptoms of dyslexia. Although it is important to stress that every person with dyslexia is unique and may not present with all the symptoms listed below:  

  • Laterality problems.
  • Confusing words with similar pronunciation.
  • Distorted spatial or temporal notions.
  • Changing the order of words.
  • Reading mistakes.
  • Difficulty in learning routines.
  • Problem concentrating when reading and writing.
  • Difficulty in organising thoughts or paying attention.

Types of dyslexia

If we focus on the existing types of dyslexia, we can refer to two specific types: acquired and developmental dyslexia.

  • Acquired. Acquired dyslexia manifests due to a specific brain injury.
  • Developmental. This type is more detectable in a school environment and has not been caused by a brain injury.  

But, apart from these types, other classifications exist depending on the patient’s predominant symptoms:  

  • Phonological or indirect: The child reads visually and deduces rather than reads. For example, they may read “house” instead of “mouse”. They may be able to read familiar words, but they may find it difficult to read unfamiliar or long words.  
  • Superficial: In this case, the disorder is connected to visual function. Children suffering from this do not have problems when reading regular or predictable words but will encounter problems when reading irregular or unpredictable words, such as those belonging to another language. At the same time, their reading speed slows down according to the length of the word and, therefore, they make errors by omitting or substituting letters and confusing homophonous words, such as  “here” and “hear”.
  • Mixed: The two reading processes mentioned above - the visual and the phonological - become disrupted, and semantic errors are made.

In summary, dyslexia is a disorder that, when detected at an early age, can lead to low self-esteem, problems with behaviour, anxiety and withdrawal. Hence the need to have some basic knowledge of it, not only to improve the specific aspects that are affected, such as reading and writing, but also in order not to lose sight of the sufferer’s emotional health.