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Visual stress and dyslexia

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Visual stress is not the same as dyslexia. Some people with dyslexia may suffer from visual stress and some may not. Dyslexia is a genetically inherited neurological condition characterized by problems in processing and remembering phonological information, which adversely affect development of efficient reading, writing and spelling (see below for further explanation). Dyslexic readers find it harder to recognize words so they have to pay closer attention to the print than other readers, and therefore they become more sensitive to any aspects of the appearance of the print that might cause visual stress, such as the black/white contrast of the text and the background, the line spacing, the type of font and the quality of the printing. So dyslexia seems to make the symptoms of visual stress much worse, and therefore it is particularly important that children with diagnosed dyslexia are screened for visual stress.

Most children with dyslexia have underlying problems with processing and remembering phonological information - that is, information about how the sounds of spoken language are organized and stored in memory. At an early age children with dyslexia tend to have difficulty in detecting when words rhyme and remembering rhymes. As they get older children with dyslexia have problems in breaking up spoken or written words into their constituent sounds, so they find it very hard to learn phonics, i.e. the rules that govern the relationships between letters (graphemes) and sounds (phonemes). They also experience great difficulty in learning material by rote, such as the spellings of irregular words, multiplication tables, days of the week and months of the year. Some children with dyslexia may have additional problems, involving attention and concentration, coordination, visual memory or visual processing, but the weight of research evidence indicates that phonological and verbal memory difficulties remain at the core of the condition.

For more information about dyslexia, visit the British Dyslexia Association website

If you think you may be dyslexic, take the first step to finding out with our new online dyslexia test

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