The word dyslexia is derived from the Greek, dys (difficulty with) and lex (from legein, to speak), having to do with words. Words in their many forms are encountered in listening, speaking, reading, spelling, writing, in mathematics, and in organizing, understanding, and expressing thought. Based on information from neuroscientific and linguistic research, the definition can be summarized as difficulty in the use and processing of arbitrary linguistic/symbolic codes. This is an aspect of a language continuum which includes spoken language, written language, and language comprehension.

Individuals with dyslexia are those who, despite traditional classroom teaching, have failed to master the basic elements of the language system of their culture. Since language is the necessary tool upon which subsequent academic learning is based, such persons often encounter difficulty in all educational endeavors.

Parents, researchers, and educators have long wondered why some children fail to learn to read when other children in the same classroom with the same curriculum have easily learned to read.

Is there something wrong with those that fail to read? What factors do and do not play a role in reading failure?

The term is often used by those who believe that poor reading is due to a neurological disorder. Remember that reading has been invented and is not an innate, biological entity of just one part of the brain. In fact, we actually use numerous parts of our brain to read.


Many other studies have also demonstrated a high correlation between the ability to read and the ability to manipulate sounds in words. Although this skill has been called many different things (auditory processing, phonemic awareness, phonological awareness, or phonological processing), it can be summarized as the ability to "unglue" sounds in words, blend sounds to form words, and analyze sounds within words.

In other words, many students with reading problems struggle to hear, analyze, and separate the individual phonemes in words.

Furthermore, it has been shown that children don't automatically learn to segment words into sounds simply because they are exposed to a reading system. In summary, research consistently shows that phonemic awareness is the major predictor of reading ability (independent of reading scores themselves).

Other factors that impact learning to read, to lesser degrees, include speech problems, attention, and visual processing.