1.2 What is Dyslexia?

Module 1 Section 2 Recap

Module 1 highlighted the 2009 Scottish Government working definition of dyslexia [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] which was developed and agreed by the Scottish Government, Dyslexia Scotland and the Cross-Party Group on Dyslexia in the Scottish Parliament

Historical background

The term ‘dyslexia’ has been used since around the late 1880s and was introduced by a German Ophthalmologist Rudolf Berliner, prior to this the characteristics which were observed by Adolph Kussmaul, a German neurologist as ‘word blindness’. Both scientists highlighted the link between individuals’ difficulties with reading and visual difficulties but recognised that those difficulties did not represent the individual’s cognitive ability. Berliner developed the term ‘dyslexia’ from the Greek words.

dys = difficult, hard - Greek - δυσ (dus)

lexia = reading, word, speech - λέξις (lexis)

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Figure 5 Pictorial Definition of Dyslexia

As the working definition highlights, dyslexia exists in all cultures and across the range of abilities and socio-economic backgrounds and it is not linked specifically to either low or high cognitive ability. This means that learners of all cognitive ability levels can be dyslexic. When exploring if learners may have dyslexia it is important that consideration is given to a range of factors which may be creating the child or learners’ barriers to learning. The broad Scottish working definition aims to provide guidance for educational practitioners, learners, parents/carers and others that dyslexia does not only occur because of literacy difficulties as highlighted in figure 6.

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Figure 6 Other factors to consider

1.1.5 Raising Attainment, Dyslexia and Inclusive Practice

1.2.1 Dyslexia and Literacy