Intended for healthcare professionals


Dyslexia: a hundred years on

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: (Published 02 November 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:1096
  1. Margaret J Snowling
  1. Professor Department of Psychology, University of York, York YO1 5DD

    A verbal not a visual disorder, which responds to early intervention

    The first case of developmental dyslexia was reported by Pringle-Morgan in the BMJ on 7 November 1896.1 Pringle-Morgan, a general practitioner, and Hinshelwood, an ophthalmologist also writing at the turn of the century,2 speculated that such difficulties with reading and writing were due to “congenital word blindness,” and for many years the dominant view was that dyslexia was caused by visual processing deficiencies. There is still continuing interest in the role of visual factors in the aetiology of dyslexia, especially in low level impairments of the visual system.3 4 However, most research suggests that these are not its cause. The most widely accepted view today is that dyslexia is a verbal deficit5 and can be considered part of the continuum of language disorders. Indeed, converging evidence supports a specific theory, that dyslexic readers have phonological (speech) processing deficits.

    Dyslexia tends to runs in families, and the relatives …

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