Dyslexia is not some magical thing. It is simply a word that is synonymous with difficulty in learning to read.
It is sometimes referred to as a reading disorder or a specific learning disability, but they all mean the same thing. Contrary to popular myth, dyslexic folks do not see things backwards, rather in an overwhelming majority of people with a reading disorder, the problem results from a difference in how the brain processes and deals with phonological information. The very well-known problem with visual reversals, such as b/d, results not from seeing things differently but from the child’s inability to retrieve the correct verbal labels for these sounds. Dyslexia is just another word for a specific learning disability in reading. Many of us choose to continue to use the word dyslexia because most of the research that has been done on reading problems for decades uses this word.
It is important to realize that there are many underlying neuropsychological problems that contribute to dyslexia or reading problems. First, it is important to understand that reading is not hardwired into our brains – like language is -, rather it is a learned skill. There is no gene for reading in your DNA. What is required in order for your brain to learn how to read is that many different substructures within the brain have to be working just right to accomplish this incredibly complex task. It is possible that genes or a combination of genes can affect how well these substructures within the entire reading network do their jobs. Therefore, we often see a genetic component to dyslexia – it often runs in families.
All of us are “wired” for language, but to learn to read we must use older structures with vision, language and especially phonological processing and rearrange the way we use them. Boy, this is hard to do!