Dyslexia; November 1996; Scientific American Magazine; by Shaywitz; 7 Page(s)
One hundred years ago, in November 1896, a doctor in Sussex, England, published the first description of the learning disorder that would come to be known as developmental dyslexia. "Percy F., . . . Aged 14,... has always been a bright and intelligent boy," wrote W. Pringle Morgan in the British Medical Journal, "quick at games, and in no way inferior to others of his age. His great difficulty has been--and is now--his inability to learn to read."
In that brief introduction, Morgan captured the paradox that has intrigued and frustrated scientists for a century since: the profound and persistent diffi- culties some very bright people face in learning to read. In 1996 as in 1896, reading ability is taken as a proxy for intelligence; most people assume that if someone is smart, motivated and schooled, he or she will learn to read. But the experience of millions of dyslexics like Percy F. has shown that assumption to be false. In dyslexia, the seemingly invariant relation between intelligence and reading ability breaks down.