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About dyslexia : 5. A brief history of dyslexia

5. A brief history of dyslexia

The first descriptions of dyslexia – from over a hundred years ago – used the term ‘word blindness’, reflecting the view that difficulties in reading were caused by problems in visual perception. It was not until the 1970s that the role of language processing was recognised and only in the last 20 years has that been accepted as the primary feature of dyslexia.  

We have come a long way since the days when people living with dyslexia were often wrongly labelled as ‘slow’, ‘thick’ or ‘lazy’, with school reports warning parents not to expect much from their child. Today, schools have a duty to provide SEN Support where a child or young person’s learning difficulty, including dyslexia, causes them to learn at a slower pace than their peers.

Today’s definition of dyslexia may also change as a result of new research, but there is now a strong consensus (see Rose definition) and the concept is no longer controversial.  Challenges for further research are to understand the factors that influence the severity of dyslexia and the role of co-occurring difficulties.  

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.