Is dyslexia genetic?

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    Have you ever wondered, "Is dyslexia genetic?" While there is no known cause, it appears genetics does play a factor. Let's explore the research.

    Is dyslexia genetic?

    Someone who is dyslexic, or has dyslexia, may wonder how their condition originated. Is it something they inherited from their parents, or is a situation independent of familial history?

    Today, we’re diving into the common characteristics of this reading disability, how dyslexia happens, how it affects reading ability, and how people with dyslexia can overcome their reading difficulties.

    What are common characteristics of Dyslexia?

    Dyslexia is a learning disorder that is often difficult to diagnose. It falls under the category of neurodevelopmental disorders. However, it’s not a typical learning disability.

    People with dyslexia often don’t have other learning-based issues. As a result, a child may have dyslexia without anybody knowing because their different strengths cover up the condition.

    Still, there are several common characteristics that professionals in pediatric care look for when diagnosing dyslexia:

    • Very slow reading pace or an inability to comprehend certain words when reading

    • Difficulty writing

    • Confusing the order of words in a sentence or even the order of letters in words

    • Difficulty understanding written instructions while being able to perfectly understand verbal instructions

    These condition characteristics often lead to people classifying dyslexia as a reading disability. That said, some people present symptoms similar to those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). For example, dyslexic people often find themselves easily distracted. Some also struggle with organization skills.

    Is dyslexia related to genetic factors?

    While the exact causes of dyslexia are unknown, it appears that dyslexic children often inherit the condition from their parents during brain development. Therefore, we can at least say that genetic factors, or genotype, play a more significant role in developing the condition than environmental factors, or phenotype.

    The challenge is that researchers still struggle to locate a specific dyslexia gene. Recent genetic studies have highlighted DCDC2 and KIAA0319 as potential candidate genes for dyslexia. A 2007 PubMed published study highlights this.

    You can find this study by searching for DOI 10.1136/jmg.2006.046516.

    Despite this research being over 15 years old, we still don’t know much about the role of these genes. Consequently, the genetics of dyslexia are confusing.

    Genetic influences do play a role, and there’s strong evidence to suggest that specific genes correlate with the development of dyslexia. However, it may be some time before we see a true breakthrough leading to the discovery of the “dyslexia gene”—whether that be in a specific allele on a chromosome or some other combination of genetic factors.

    How does dyslexia affect reading ability?

    As the most common of the reading disorders, dyslexia can lead to a host of reading problems for those with the condition.

    Chiefly, it can cause those affected to seemingly be poor readers. For example, children often find it difficult to decode or recognize words when reading. Many also report seeing jumbled-up letters in terms they’d otherwise know.

    This poor phonemic awareness also contributes to difficulties with spelling. People with dyslexia often struggle to decode words when reading, so they also find it hard to spell them when writing.

    Finally, dyslexic people struggle with words that don’t have explicit phonological constructs. In other words, if the word doesn’t have a clear pattern for the person to interpret, they’ll likely get confused when reading it.

    Irregular words offer a good example of this in practice. Many dyslexic people struggle with words like “the,” “is,” and “a” because they’re short words that don’t have a pattern. Their single-syllable nature also makes them difficult to sound out.

    Ways to help reading difficulties related to dyslexia

    Though dyslexia makes decoding written text difficult, there are some coping mechanisms you can use to work around the condition and feel confident in your reading ability.

    Stay as organized as possible

    Developmental dyslexia already causes enough stress. Having to deal with that while trying to work on a project can feel overwhelming.

    Staying organized is a great counter. This tip works in general psychiatry because setting steps for a project makes it easier to focus. Improving organization skills means dyslexic people don’t have to worry about everything that surrounds the management of their condition. This will help your mind be free of unnecessary distractions while trying to focus on reading.

    Be open and honest

    A lot of people don’t understand dyslexia.

    You’ll find that’s definitely the case in the working world, but even students may also find they struggle with social interactions because their peers don’t fully understand them.

    Being open about what’s happening helps break the stigma of dyslexia and increase awareness of the condition.

    Tell your boss, teacher, workmates, and peers about your dyslexia. Explain how it affects you and what they can expect when working with you. You could even discuss using little interventions, such as having somebody else read a text for you, to make working easier.

    Text to speech technology

    Text to speech (TTS) is a type of assistive technology. It works by reading text for you out loud using artificial intelligence (AI) and human-sounding voices. This makes text to speech tools ideal for anybody with a language impairment like dyslexia that makes reading difficult.

    There are plenty of TTS readers available, including:

    But if you’re looking for the most versatile, customizable, and natural-sounding option—Speechify is the TTS tool of choice.

    Why?

    Speechify has a range of powerful features, including:

    • Speechify has a scanning tool that converts pictures of hard copy text into audio files.

    • The platform is available for iOS, macOS, and Android devices. Plus, you can download a Chrome extension that reads any text you find on the web.

    Speechify turns almost any text you find into speech. You can use the completely free version or try the Premium version for free today to see if Speechify can help you with your reading.

    FAQ

    Is dyslexia passed on by mother or father?

    Dyslexia can come from your mother or father. Your family history is one of the most significant risk factors in dyslexia development.

    How likely are you to inherit dyslexia?

    The condition has high heritability, with children having about a 50% chance of getting it if a parent has it.

    Does dyslexia run in family?

    It appears so, though a definitive genome has yet to be identified.

    Is dyslexia genetic in siblings?

    All siblings in a family can potentially have dyslexia, though it isn’t guaranteed. For example, there’s only a 55% to 70% chance that identical twins will both have dyslexia.

    Is dyslexia hereditary?

    The evidence suggests it is. However, it seems other genetic variants come into play, meaning there’s no guarantee a child will have dyslexia because they have dyslexic parents.

    Is dyslexia a genetic disorder?

    Dyslexia is a genetic disorder, but the condition isn’t wholly hereditary.

    Why do some people with dyslexia have family members with dyslexia?

    There is some form of genetic linkage at play that means dyslexia often runs in families.

    Cliff Weitzman

    Cliff Weitzman

    Cliff Weitzman is a dyslexia advocate and the CEO and founder of Speechify, the #1 text-to-speech app in the world, totaling over 100,000 5-star reviews and ranking first place in the App Store for the News & Magazines category. In 2017, Weitzman was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list for his work making the internet more accessible to people with learning disabilities. Cliff Weitzman has been featured in EdSurge, Inc., PC Mag, Entrepreneur, Mashable, among other leading outlets.

    Dyslexia & Accessibility Advocate, CEO/Founder of Speechify Dyslexia & Accessibility Advocate, CEO/Founder of Speechify

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