3 Surprising Facts About Children with Dyslexia


April 17, 2019

There are a variety of misconceptions about dyslexia: what it’s like to have dyslexia, the way a person with dyslexia grows up, and why dyslexia occurs. The misconceptions regarding the basis from which dyslexias occurs are continuously being shattered by dyslexia research that shows patterns in the brain functioning of dyslexic children. At Jett Publishing, we’re dedicated to ensuring that parents and teachers have the tools and knowledge necessary to help dyslexic children succeed, which is why we’ve broken down three surprising facts that dyslexia research supports in our understanding of the dyslexic brain. Here, we’ll take a look at:

  • The genetic backing of dyslexia
  • How the dyslexic brain works differently
  • Research in the discrepancy model of dyslexia

Fact: Dyslexia Can Be Inherited

Dyslexia Research Shows Genetic Predisposition for Dyslexia

genetic dna connection to dyslexia

Dyslexia is defined as a neurobiological disorder that affects how we learn to read. Common misconceptions lead us to believe that dyslexic children read their letters backward or upside down, but emerging dyslexia research shows that dyslexia is much more complicated and related to the way the brain processes written language (which we’ll dive into a little more in a moment).

Dyslexia research has found that this abnormal brain processing can be passed down through generations. Risk factors for dyslexia can often be found through a variety of genes in the 18th chromosome, and well as some connections that exist in genes located in chromosomes 2 and 6. These genes are passed directly of parents to their children, meaning that parents with dyslexia are more likely to have a child with dyslexia.

It’s important to note that though dyslexia is genetically connected, it cannot be identified with DNA testing because dyslexia is not defined by a single gene; rather, dyslexia is the combination of genetically-inherited traits that increase your likelihood of developing dyslexia. This is why dyslexia research in identical twins - twins with identical DNA - only have a 55-70% chance of both twins having dyslexia. In other words, dyslexia does have genetic tied, but it is much too complicated of a disorder to be identified by a single gene.

Fact: Dyslexia Research Shows Differences in How Dyslexic Brains Function

Activation of Various Portions of the Brain Leads to Dyslexia

left and right brained

We’ve all heard of the idea of being ‘left brained’ or ‘right brained’. The left brain is associated with thinking in words, math, sequencing, linear thinking, and logic. The right brain, however, is heavily activated when processing feelings, arts rhythm, big-picture thinking, arts, and visual cues. It is heavily supported by dyslexia research - including MRI studies - that the left brain is often less activated than the right brain while reading in dyslexic children.

Some studies suggest that this is due to differences in the way the corpus callosum sends information to both sides of the brain. Dyslexia research published in the NCBI shows that the corpus callosum - the control center that sends information to the left and right sides of the brain for processing - is misshapen in dyslexic children, often leading to less neural activity in logical, sequencing portion of the brain.

Some studies also suggest that dyslexic children present differences in the front and back portions of their brains and how these two bodies communicate with one another. Dyslexia research shows that the front brain - responsible for executive functions like goal setting, planning, and decision-making - is often overstimulated while the back portions of the brain are under stimulated. The back of the brain is responsible almost exclusively for visual processing, meaning there is a clear disconnect in how dyslexic children see, process, and understand written language.

These differences in the brain, however, come with a variety of benefits. Children with dyslexia are often known to have great big-picture thinking skills, exceptional creativity, leadership skills, and are great at visually-based puzzles.

Fact: Dyslexia has Nothing to do with IQ

Dyslexia Studies Show Similar Brain Functions Between High and Low ID Students

dyslexia and brain scans
Image Source: https://med.stanford.edu

One of the initial warning signs for dyslexia is a student having more trouble reading than their IQ initially suggests. This kind of thinking disproportionately affected children with low IQs for years. However, dyslexia research conducted by researchers at Stanford, MIT, Harvard, and other prestigious universities suggests that these inadequacies are not grounded in fact.

Their study pushed back against this ‘discrepancy model’ of dyslexia by using MRI to show that both children with dyslexia and high and low IQs lack activity in the left side of their brains while reading and processing language. Low IQ dyslexic students and normal IQ dyslexic students showed the same lack of activity, allowing researchers to conclude that dyslexia stems from this abnormal brain function rather than the IQ itself. This research, we hope, will lead to more attention paid to low IQ children as we look to find a way to help these children succeed in spite of a lower IQ.

An astounding amount of dyslexia research suggests that dyslexia is not only not dependent on IQ, but shows that brain function itself is a source of dyslexia. What do we do with this information? We use every resource we can to level the playing field for children with learning differences. Check out Jett Publishing’s resources for both parents and teachers that help give children with dyslexia and other learning difference the boost that they need to prevent reading failure.