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About dyslexia : 2. The causes of dyslexia

2. The causes of dyslexia

There is strong evidence that dyslexia runs in families: if someone in a family is dyslexic, then it is very likely that other members of the family are dyslexic to some degree.

However, genetics is only part of the story: many other factors make a difference to the overall picture. There are genes that will increase or decrease the risk for dyslexia, but that risk will be affected by many other things, including the effects of teaching and the effects of other genes.

Language and phonics

How can genes affect reading, when reading is such a new activity for human beings?  The answer is that reading and spelling are skills that build on language, especially on the ability to work with the sounds of language.  The evidence suggests that genes involved in dyslexia are acting on the development of language processing abilities which, in turn, affect reading and spelling.

Developmental dyslexia

Developmental dyslexia is the full name for dyslexia, that we are talking about on these pages.  This means that the risk factors for dyslexia are present at birth and that it can have life-long effects.

Acquired dyslexia

Some people who have previously been able to read and spell may lose these abilities as the result of illness, injury or ageing.  This is different to development dyslexia, although the same teaching techniques can be useful for both kinds.  

Did you know?

Dyslexia can make some things harder to learn. But, almost always, those barriers to learning can be overcome, especially with the right kind of help and support.