This post is also available in Dutch.
Sometimes I sɘe words that aren’t even there! That is how a good friend of mine descrideb her dyslɘxia to me. To her, raeding is a complete nightmare. But what exactly are pɘople with dyslexia doing differently?
It is safe to say that all people with dyslexia experience some trouble with reading. However, not all people experience the same problems, as dyslexia can take many different forms. My friend, for example, sees words that aren’t there. Others switch letters (for example the d and b), mirror them, or see dancing or jumping letters.
What is having dyslexia like?
To my friend reading is a complete nightmare. Her dyslexia sometimes makes her insecure, for example when she takes an exam. She is definitely not alone in this, as stress has a strong influence on dyslexia! Because of this, many people with dyslexia experience low confidence and sometimes even fear of failure. Unfortunately, dyslectic people still have to deal with a lot of misunderstanding. ‘You just need more practice’ is something they have all heard. To increase public understanding, a Swedish developer created a website for people to experience what having dyslexia is like. Curious? Take a look here!
Source: Star of service: Jannick Boubli – Psychologie
Dyslexia in the brain
Dyslectic people have trouble reading, but does the dyslectic brain actually works differently? To find that out, researchers compared the brains of people with and without dyslexia. Our brain consists of a left and right half, or also called hemisphere. The right side is more involved in our spatial orientation, creativity, and nonverbal communication. The left side is prominent in logical reasoning, details, and language.
When we first learn to read as children, our right hemisphere is very active. However, when we become advanced readers, the left side is usually more active. The exact opposite was found in people with dyslexia: the right hemisphere is very active, while the language centres in the left hemisphere are less developed. Moreover, the connection between the two hemispheres is often weaker. This means that people with dyslexia indeed have some differences in the development of their brain that cause trouble with reading.
While dyslexia can cause many difficulties, it seems that dyslectic people often excel in other, non-language related areas. They develop talents that rely more heavily on the right side of the brain. For example, they are capable of seeing the big picture, when others would get lost in details. They are also strong visual thinkers, are very creative, and often choose a practical approach. So while dyslectic people may fall behind in reading, their hidden talents may work in their favour.
This blog was written by guest blogger Wieneke van Oorschot. Wieneke is a master student in Biomedical Science and an intern in science communication at the Donders Institute.
Edited by Francie Manhardt and Mariya Manahova.