Tuesday, March 23, 2010
As simple as the question appears, a totally correct answer is not yet available. Dyslexia can best be considered as a syndrome that exhibits several different problems that make reading much more difficult for an individual. In a syndrome, each individual may or may not have any particular problem from a list of minor problems but must have the major defining problem of the syndrome. The major problem that defines dyslexia is difficulty acquiring the skills to read in a normal manner.
While dyslexia has not yet achieved an accepted medical status of being a syndrome it still is the best way to understand what dyslexia is. Conditions that are considered syndromes have a fixed list of minor problems and usually require that a particular minimum # have to be present along with the major problem to be diagnosed with the syndrome.
The reason dyslexia is not yet considered a syndrome is that there has been no agreement on what particular minor problems need to be included in the list or how many need to be present to define the syndrome. Most people reading this have seen the lists of problems associated with dyslexia and noticed that no two lists of problems are the same. Only time will tell what the final medically accepted list of minor problems will be or how many of those need to be present before a diagnosis meets the standard.
Each individual minor problem also needs to be defined and measurable before dyslexia will finally be considered as a syndrome. Minor problems like delayed speech and poor short term memory ( as examples ) are possible useful ideas associated with some dyslexics but what what does that mean. How delayed is delayed and to what degree are questions that will need to be answered or what standard will measure short term memory problems.
Media reports of researchers that study dyslexia factors typicaly report that they have found the cause of dyslexia at the expense of ignoring all previous studies. This causes much confusion among anyone looking to understand "What is dyslexia?" because the answers seem to keep changing.
Reading dyslexia studies rather than media reports of dyslexia studies builds a different better picture of what is known about dyslexia. Considering that the value of each individual study is that they actually investigate specific minor problems of the dyslexia syndrome makes understanding the results easier. What dyslexia research is doing is building the minor problem list by the determination of whether the aspect studied is actually associated with dyslexia.
I am not comfortable with the conclusion that is widely reported that only high IQ people may be dyslexic. That statement only becomes true if diagnosed is added. Diagnosed dyslexics generally have average or above average IQs . It is likely that some disadvantaged poor children with more limited language exposure and lower IQs may very well be dyslexic also and would benefit from dyslexia intervention also. Basically, without even a suggested mechanism for dyslexia only occurring in high IQ individuals I don't think it can be very productive to eliminate lower IQ individuals from consideration for dyslexia.
Here are some factors that can cause reading problems for dyslexics. (Using a generalized approach as each can be broken down to smaller specifics.)
1) phonological problems- difficulty hearing the difference in the sounds that make up words.
2) language processing problems- difficulty processing sounds as language.
3) visual processing problems- difficulty seeing the page in a clear, focused and stable manner.
4) mental processing problems indirectly related to the above such as short term memory and executive decision making problems and others.
Back to the question, dyslexia is a syndrome that, for an individual, can have different amounts of reading dysfunction caused by a combination of the above problems. The severity and impact of each problem will vary from individual to individual.Some individuals have as their cause 1 predominate problem and little effect from others.
New dyslexia research that is promising for understanding dyslexia is that many dyslexia problems may be initially caused by a generalized problem with filtering out extraneous information or noise. Noise is usually considered as sound but visual noise is a valid concept as well. Looked at another way it may be better to replace the idea of poor filtration of noise with higher sensitivity to noise.
The observation of dyslexics having more difficulty hearing what is being said across a noisy crowded room than non dyslexics was the basis for the development of experiments to determine if poor noise filtration may be an aspect of dyslexia. The results indicate that very well be the case. It doesn't take a great leap to speculate that a higher sensitivity to sound noise may be causing language development problems leading to dyslexia from a young age. Hard to quantify but certainly possible is that modern life is more sound polluted than the past. Some have proposed that some dyslexic students may benefit from using headphones to hear their teachers voice broadcasted to eliminate classroom noise and having a quiet place to study.
Other experiments have investigated dyslexics and non-dyslexics and their ability to perform visual tasks with increasing visual noise by using electronic snow on computer screens. Many dyslexics show a higher sensitivity to the visual snow than the non-dyslexics.
While sound noise is generally external, I believe visual noise is caused by autofluorescent proteins in the eye that can change a photon of visual information into a photon of visual noise by changing the original path. By filtering out the different wavelengths associated with the autofluorescent proteins the visual noise is extinguished. Because the locations of the protein are fixed in individual eyes the individual visual dyslexic usually has a constant specific visual problem that can be described and eliminated.
I sell See Right Dyslexia Glasses that remove described visual problems for dyslexics. Only a minority of dyslexics have visual processing problems that are predominate. The dyslexics that can describe a visual problem that makes reading difficult can have that problem removed by these dyslexia glasses. They have a money back guarantee and require no personal evaluation. More information about these glasses is available at www.dyslexiaglasses.com .