Dyslexia The Cause Study Essay

4414 words - 18 pages

Any discussion of the causes of dyslexia must, as we shall see, be a complex and controversial undertaking; even the title may raise controversy: what is 'dyslexia'? Is it the same as 'specific learning difficulties'? Can it be defined as a single problem? Is there a continuum of dyslexic-type difficulties? Should we be using a label at all? The questions are many, and with very few satisfactory answers. For this reason, it is necessary to begin with a working definition of dyslexia, before discussing what may cause it. Once this has been established, it will be seen that the cited causes may be usefully grouped into several categories (genetic, perceptual, neurological and linguistic). Each of these areas will be examined in some depth, and the evidence evaluated. It will be found that, as yet, no single cause can be definitively established, but that studies into information and language processing in the brain seem to offer the most promising possibilities for the future.Due to the complex nature of the problem, and the many different ways in which it manifests itself, it is impossible to find a definition upon which everyone may agree. Nevertheless, several definitions exist which may serve as a starting point. An early definition by Critchley is that dyslexia is "a disorder of children who, despite conventional classroom experience, fail to attain the language skills of reading, writing and spelling commensurate with their intellectual abilities." This raises two main points: what is 'conventional classroom experience', and how can we prove which level of language skills is 'commensurate with intellectual ability'? This definition was improved upon in 1978 by Critchley and Critchley: "children with specific learning difficulties are those who in the absence of sensory defect or overt organic damage, have an intractable learning problem in one or more of reading, spelling or maths, and who do not respond to normal teaching," (see also, Critchley and Critchley in Augur, 1981). Several issues are raised here - the label 'specific learning difficulties' is introduced, 'sensory defects' and 'organic damage' are mentioned, and dismissed, and so is 'normal teaching'. It is hoped that the issues of sensory defect and organic damage will be dealt with later, so that it shall be possible to consider whether this definition is accurate. The use of the term 'specific learning difficulties' (SpLD) is outside the scope of this essay, and so the more widely known 'dyslexia' will be used for convenience, even though its use is still controversial (Stanovich, 1994). Dyslexia covers a group of symptoms, any or all of which may be seen in one individual, and which can be briefly summarised as: visual perceptual difficulties, directional confusion, sequencing problems, short term and long term memory problems, difficulties in naming, organisational problems, and general literacy skills (Robertson, 1994).The question of whether dyslexia is genetically determined...

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