The history of dyslexia [Part 1]

The history of dyslexia [Part 1] with Dr. Laura Hanson | Connect My Brain

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In the past four episodes, we took a close look at attention issues such as ADD and ADHD and really examined the history behind these labels, the treatments used today, and the overall big picture. In today’s episode we’re going to start a similar mini-series and this time we’ll be looking at another common label given to children – dyslexia. Dyslexia is one of those terms that we don’t think much about. We just accept it. If your child is diagnosed with dyslexia you might feel relieved to finally have an official diagnosis so that you can move forward with the proper supports. However, I believe it’s essential for parents to understand how this term came to be, what a diagnosis means for their child, and that there might be some other pieces to the puzzle that need to be included; I believe there are other issues with why a child might have trouble with reading, writing, and spelling.

However, before we get into those reasons, we are going to take a close look at the history of the dyslexia diagnosis. The term dyslexia was first introduced in 1883 by a researcher who was studying five adult patients who had problems with reading as the result of some kind of brain injury. This should already raise some questions due to the fact that the researcher wasn’t studying children and due to the fact that in this case, dyslexia was only used to describe incidents where a brain injury impeded reading ability. In the years to come, dyslexia was known by many different terms but was typically only used for individuals who had suffered from brain injuries.

Eventually, dyslexia diagnoses were classified in two different categories – acquired dyslexia (also known as alexia) and developmental dyslexia. The term “developmental dyslexia” hints that something likely went wrong during the child’s development, and if you’ve been listening to my podcast for any length of time, you know how strongly I emphasize going back right to a child’s beginning in the womb and looking at how that child developed. This episode will focus solely on the history of the dyslexia, but stay tuned for the next episode where we will continue to look at what dyslexia actually is and step back to really understand the big picture.


In this episode, we cover:

  • Why we need to take a closer look at dyslexia
  • Where and why the term dyslexia was first used
  • Other terms and understandings of dyslexia throughout history
  • Acquired dyslexia (alexia) vs. developmental dyslexia
  • The current-day meaning of dyslexia
  • The Orton-Gillingham approach to education
  • Why the International Literacy Association deemed the term “dyslexia” to be damaging
  • The American Psychiatric Association’s changing ideas of dyslexia
  • Your insurance company is in charge of your health
  • Getting to the root cause

Resources mentioned:

More about Connect My Brain:

Why is this happening to my kid and what can I do about it? If you’re the parent of a developmentally delayed child, you’ve probably asked this question more than once. That’s where I come in! I’m Dr. Laura Hanson and I specialize in identifying the “why” and telling you the “what.” Join me every Thursday for a deeper look at how our brains are wired and how to get the most out of your mind. Are you looking to break negative patterns, overcome mood disorders, or optimize your potential? Maybe your child struggles with ADHD, OCD or other learning difficulties. Tune in to Connect My Brain, where I explain concepts like biofeedback and neurofeedback, brainwave frequencies, and much more. Let me help you change your life by changing your mind! Contact me HERE.


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