Dyslexia is a specific learning disability characterized by a difficulty in learning to read. Many people who have dyslexia may encounter difficulties with learning to write, read and spell, and sometimes even to speak or work with numbers. The cause of dyslexia is unknown; it affects people who are physically and emotionally healthy, academically capable or economically and socially sound. Dyslexia can affect anyone independent of these factors, however many researchers feel that ecological factors may lead to new approaches when educating students with dyslexia. Detection and treatment of this disability in early childhood will typically provide for a smooth transition into society and adulthood.
The word dyslexia is derived from the Latin "dys" meaning difficult, and "legere" meaning to read, or the Greek "lexia" meaning speech. According to Sylvia O. Richardson (1992), the term "was introduced in 1887 by German ophthalmologist Berlin, to describe a group of patients who had a great difficulty in reading due to cerebral disease" (p.41).
It was originally considered part of the group of language disorders known as aphasia. Aphasia is the term used for the "loss of the ability to speak and comprehend language... including reading and writing" (Richardson, 1992, p. 40). Dyslexia, or alexia, was thought to be one of the aphasias associated with a difficulty in reading. It was often referred to as "word- blindness" because of the difficulties patients had with reading; they were thought to be blind to certain words due to specific neurological malfunctions.
James Hinshelwood, a Scottish ophthalmologist, wrote a paper in 1917 which recognized that the treatment for dyslexia must be educational. He was an advocate of children receiving detailed instructional methods for written language disorders. Hinshelwood also recommended one-to-one teaching in order to treat this condition, while speaking out against the injustices of categorizing children...