A very common question that parents will ask me of their child who is showing signs of dyslexia is “Why?  Where does it come from?”

As suggested in International Dyslexia Association definition of dyslexia it states that it is likely to be of “neurobiological origin.”

Sometimes I will hear parents confusing that term, “neurobiological” with something like “neurological dysfunction” or some type of brain disorder.

I rarely think the child who I evaluated with dyslexia as having a brain disorder.  Rather it seems to be a familial predisposition that is playing out with one or more of the children.

Take George, a successful photographer and videographer running his own company.  People are always amazed by the textures and tones of the work that he produces.  What people don’t know about George is that he has always struggled with reading and writing.  (Since he tends to feel embarrassed about this fact, he usually doesn’t disclose this to too many people.)

When George and his wife Katherine had their first child, Megan, she sailed right along with the early learning activities.  Reading skills unfolded naturally.  Not so, their second child, Robert.   Robert resisted most of the preschool activities that involved reading and in first grade it became quickly apparent that Robert was going to have a much tougher ride learning how to read than the other children in his class.  The school was reluctant to test him so early suggesting that it was only because he was a boy and maybe the parents needed to go for an “ADD” assessment.  They were astonished by the ADD suggestion because Robert didn’t show any of the behavioral features that they thought involved ADD.

They then sought a private opinion. While reviewing the history, George spoke about how hard it was for him as a child, painfully recounting the shame and embarrassment that accompanied all of the school experiences that he remembered (like they were yesterday).

Robert was exactly like he was when he was in school. They struggled in the same areas. They also had very similar strengths in spatial/mechanical thinking.

In other words, it (the dyslexia) comes from some place.  This is something that you can never know 100%, but this type of scenario with George and Robert are extremely common.

As a takeaway point, try and move away from dysfunction/disabiltiy thinking and move more toward “predisposition.”  That type of thinking takes some of the edge off of it.

One more piece of advice, always remember to blame the male side of the gene pool!!!!