What is dyslexia?

Posted by Chantal Gagnon on

This may seem like a simple question and yet, it is weighted and lengthy but we'll try our best to answer it here! 

There remain controversial debates on how best to coin dyslexia in the context of research and wider society. Such debates speak to the complexity of dyslexia as a condition, and as such, we must acknowledge such complexity and seek clarification for the community's benefit. 

There are over forty models to consider, and they are best understood in three categorisations (Department for Education and Skills, 2004, p.30): biological theories, cognitive theories and social interactive theories. Biological theories account for genetic factors and defects in the brain's autonomy (Ibid, p.32-33). Cognitive theories assign dyslexia as a visual difficulty, a phonological processing difficulty, timing difficulty, an automatic difference, (meaning "some tasks are less instinctive to those with dyslexia") and working memory difficulty (Ibid, p.33-34). 

Comparatively, from the two theories above, the social interactive theories seek to speak to the broader social context and focus on our common perception of dyslexia (Ibid, p.34-35). (We recognise this is heavy so here’s a document outlining the above theories: A Framework for Understanding Dyslexia.

The British Dyslexia Association operates under the model of cognitive theories, with an acknowledgement of social interactive theories, and as such, has adopted the following definition of dyslexia (Rose, 2009, cited in British Dyslexia association, 2021):

Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling. Characteristic features of dyslexia are difficulties in phonological awareness, verbal memory and verbal processing speed. [...] The British Dyslexia Association (BDA) acknowledges the visual and auditory processing difficulties that some individuals with dyslexia can experience and points out that dyslexic readers can show a combination of abilities and difficulties that affect the learning process. Some also have strengths in other areas, such as design, problem-solving, creative skills, interactive skills and oral skills.

These diverse theories translate to confusion within the dyslexic community and how we explain our difficulties to the outside world. Here at Socolo, we believe the lived-in experience and individuality of the dyslexic experience is the best way to explain what dyslexia is, as it’s highly unique to the individual and better thought of as a continuum! 

So we’ve begun sourcing dyslexic individuals to speak about their lived experience and we want to share it here! 

Check back to see it grow! If you’d like to submit your experience of dyslexia or another neurodiversity, please contact us here.


Reference list: 

British Dyslexia Association. (2009). What is dyslexia? - British Dyslexia Association. [online] Available from: About dyslexia - British Dyslexia Association (bdadyslexia.org.uk) [Accessed 26th October 2020]



← Older Post Newer Post →

Leave a comment