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Let’s talk learning difficulties. Causes of dyslexia.

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There are many theories about the causes of dyslexia. However, the generally accepted origin of the condition is rooted in the issues with the brain structure, a genetic inheritance and deficient phonological processing.

There are many theories about the causes of dyslexia. However, the generally accepted origin of the condition is rooted in the issues with the brain structure, a genetic inheritance and deficient phonological processing.

Brain structure differences

The human brain is a complex and extraordinary organ that is divided into the left and right hemispheres. Each hemisphere has specific functions. While the left hemisphere controls areas such as speech, language processing and reading, the right hemisphere is the domain of areas such as creativity and intuition.
It has been noted that the dyslexic brain shows structural and functional differences. The wiring of the brains of dyslexic individuals is different compared to the wiring of the non-dyslexic individuals’ brains. This implies that the communication between the various parts of the brain is ineffective therefore impact on the literacy skills of dyslexic individuals. Furthermore, it is observed that both left and right hemispheres of dyslexic individuals are symmetric; but in the case of non-dyslexic, their left hemisphere is larger than their right hemisphere.


Genetic inheritance

Dyslexia runs in the family and it has been shown that there are more chances that boys would have dyslexia as the condition is more prominent in boys than girls. Many studies reported that among dyslexic individuals, a larger number of them have a relative or relatives who had similar condition. The genetic inheritance in dyslexia is related to the brain development. So, what is inherited it is not the reading difficulty itself but rather the way in which the brain develops in individuals with dyslexia. Consequently, this causes the underlying issues with phonological processing.


Phonological processing

Phonological processing relates to the analysis and manipulation of basic sounds in words. It allows the identification of individual sound (phonemes) or group of sounds in order to decode (read) and to encode (spell/write) words effectively. These skills are among those crucial to the acquisition of basic literacy skills. So, if the phonological processing is deficient, individuals may:
- Fail to identify individual or group of sounds in spoken words
- Mispronounce words
- Be unable to produce rhymes in words
- Be unable to identify rhymes in words
- Confuse words with some similar letters (e.g.: was, saw)
- Be unable to sound letters while reading words
- Omit letters while writing words

In general dyslexic individuals have problems with phonological processing impacting on their overall literacy skills; this is shown in their inability to:
- Recognise rhyming words
- Separate compounds words into distinctive words
- Separate words into syllables
- Identify the position of sounds in words (beginning, middle, end)
- Segment words into phonemes
- Blend phonemes to form words



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Delali Idrissou, Dyslexia Specialist
MA Inclusive Education, MA FE Practitioner
Postg SpLD Dyslexia - AMBDA
Dip. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Dip. Adult Numeracy
Member of PATOSS
Member of Institute for Learning (MIfL) - QTLS
[email protected]


Let’s talk learning difficulties. Causes of dyslexia.
Togo - Let's talk learning difficulties. Causes of dyslexia.




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