Relationship between dyslexia and autism

Autism and Dyslexia

relationship between dyslexia and autism

Autism and dyslexia are wrongly classified as childhood disorders: They are lifelong To visualize the differences between surface behavior and underlying . Like dyslexia and autism, the symptoms are behavioural in nature, and are part of and peer relationships) and in communication (particularly in imagination, and A proportion of children share symptoms between dyslexia, ADHD and ASD. Dyslexia. Autism and dyslexia are both linked to the way the brain processes information. For this reason it is not unusual for people on the spectrum to also.

The same was true for the first autistic adults. The diagnostic tests now available have been a great boon in many ways, but especially for those people who had slipped through the net and were not diagnosed as children. They had unjustly been labeled slow, lazy, or unintelligent. Having a name for your problems and learning that there are others like you can be liberating.

It is remarkable how quickly research on disorders of cognitive development has transformed into cognitive developmental neuroscience.

Autism and Dyslexia

This advance was due to the generous collaboration of researchers who pioneered neuroimaging methods and volunteers who braved the still novel scanners. In those heady days, we naively hoped that we would be able to immediately identify the malfunctioning brain circuit that gave rise to critical difficulties in cognitive processing, such as difficulty in phonological processing in dyslexia or difficulty in social processing in autism.

relationship between dyslexia and autism

Things turned out to be far more complex, particularly as we are still largely ignorant of how the brain works. Which brain circuits are necessary for distinct cognitive processing mechanisms?

How do they function in neurotypical brains? We had, and still have, a lot to learn. Today, when researchers have reassured themselves that MRI methods are safe also for children, the field is changing again. There are now several longitudinal studies in progress in which individuals are scanned repeatedly over many years.

This work is giving us information about the developing brain and mind that we simply never had before.

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For instance, there is a dramatic waxing and waning restructuring of gray and white matter throughout childhood and adolescence. This work should get us closer to understand which cognitive processes might go wrong in neurodevelopmental disorders and when. The Rise and Fall of Asperger Syndrome Autism has always been with us, but it has been recognized only since the mid 20th century, and then only very slowly. One major reason for the increase is the widening of the diagnostic criteria U.

Frith, —the spectrum of autism is now incredibly broad. At one extreme is the individual who does not use speech and has severely repetitive and restricted behaviors; at the other extreme is the individual with Asperger syndrome who is highly articulate and has superior analytic abilities and fascinating special interests.

Despite these differences, there is a common denominator: Even the very able individual on the milder part of the autism spectrum cannot compensate for a peculiar void in social interaction: Frith, at a time when most people had never heard of the name.

But the rise over the last 20 years may now be followed by a fall—the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has abandoned the label. It was removed because it is widely agreed that the critical features distinguishing Asperger syndrome from other neurodevelopmental disorders are the same as those seen in autism. In addition, there is a largely unrecognized downside to the rise of Asperger syndrome: Researchers have become less interested in studying those who are intellectually disabled.

These individuals are much more difficult to study.

relationship between dyslexia and autism

Yet they have so much to tell us, if we only knew the right questions to ask. Mechanisms of Social Cognition Autism provided the inspiration for the idea that social information might be processed differently from other information and given priority in neurotypical minds U. Autism throws the spotlight on social communication, and furthermore, it reverses the tables: What is it that makes us insatiable in our craving for social communication?

Many different mechanisms in our mind are dedicated to processing social stimuli C. Amazingly, this tendency has a circumscribed basis in the brain U. In this test, children above the age of 4 can attribute a false belief to Sally, but autistic children cannot do so. However, it turned out that this is not the whole story—able autistic adolescents and adults can pass the Sally-Ann test and similar tasks.

There is also a nonverbal type of intuitive mentalizing, which can be assessed via eye gaze patterns, and here we get a different story: Perhaps this is why they struggle with everyday fast moving reciprocal communication even when they have learned to attribute mental states explicitly U.

Dyslexia | Autism Spectrum

Many questions are now being raised about mentalizing and its likely presence in other species, such as birds and dolphins. What is uniquely human in social communication? So much remains to be explored in the next 25 years.

relationship between dyslexia and autism

Footnotes Declaration of Conflicting Interests: The author declared no conflicts of interest with respect to the authorship or the publication of this article. Mechanisms of social cognition. Autism and Asperger syndrome. Cambridge University Press Frith U. Paradoxes in the definition of dyslexia. Dyslexia is not limited to reversing the order of letters in reading or writing.

Nor is it a visual perception deficit that involves reading letters or words backwards or upside down, as is often implied in popular culture.

Researchers have claimed that it is a brain-based condition with biochemical and genetic markers.

relationship between dyslexia and autism

Current scientific theories focus on the hypothesis that dyslexia stems from a deficit in phonological awareness. This hypothesis suggests that affected individuals have difficulty analyzing the words they hear into discrete segments such as phonemeswhich in turn leads to difficulty learning spelling-sound correspondences.

Others have questioned whether dyslexia is no more than a mythological construct and argue that researchers that rely on the concept fail to recognize neurodiversity. Its diagnostic status remains highly debated in both medicine and the social sciences.

Those difficulties result from reduced ability to associate visual symbols with verbal sounds.


While motivational factors must also be reviewed in assessing poor performance, dyslexia is considered to be present from birth. Most scientific criteria for dyslexia exclude cases that can be explained as arising from environmental factors such as lack of education or sensory deficits. Children with dyslexia usually appear bright, intelligent, and articulate but are unable to read, write, or spell at an age-appropriate level. They will generally have average or above average intelligence, yet may have poor academic achievement.

They may have good oral language abilities but will perform much more poorly on similar written-language tests.