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What Is DyslexiaWhat Causes Dyslexia?

No one is sure what causes dyslexia. Experts have many theories. Here are a few:

  • Theory 1: Difficulty processing lan guage. More specifically known as the Phonological Model, this theory argues that dyslexia stems from the brain hav ing difficulty breaking words down into language units called phonemes. For example, the word “cat” consists of three phonemes: “kuh,” “aah,” and “tuh.” In fact, different combinations of just forty-four phonemes produce every word in the English language.
  • Theory 2: Poor hearing. Dyslexics may have hearing problems that keep them from sounding out letters. These prob lems may have begun with an ear infec tion in childhood.
  • Theory 3: Injured nervous system. The body's nervous system allows signals to travel to the brain. A dyslexic's nervous system may have been injured at birth or it may have been damaged by a high fever or a concussion. As a result, the brain doesn't receive signals the right way.
  • Theory 4: Genetics. Dyslexia may be passed from parent to child. Experts have found that many dyslexics have a dyslexic parent, so dyslexia may be in one's genes. It may be inherited at birth.
  • Theory 5: Viral disease. Pregnant women can be exposed to flu or other viruses. Sometimes a virus can be passed on to the fetus. A virus can dam age the paths by which brain cells travel in the fetus. Normal brain development is affected.
  • Theory 6: Multiple causes. Dyslexia may have many causes, not just one. That would explain why there are many different forms of dyslexia. Each form may be the result of a unique combina tion of factors that have affected a person.
  • Theory 7: Neurological problems. The lower centers of the brain don't work properly so that signals from the inner ear or eyes to the brain get scrambled (making reading and listening, for example, very difficult). As a result, the brain misinterprets the information it receives from the eyes and ears. This is why letters and numbers are often flipped or words waver, jump, or bunch up on the page.
  • Theory 8: Is the student necessarily the problem? It may seem more efficient to teach all students how to read in one par ticular way or using one particular method. But what if class sizes were smaller and teachers had more time to provide students with individual atten tion? Perhaps, they then might be able to address the different learning styles of their students.

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