History of Dyslexia

Knowledge of dyslexia and the development of treatments for it began in the late 19th century. In 1878, a German physician, Dr. Kussmaul studied a man who was unable to learn to read. The man was of normal intelligence and had received an adequate education. Dr. Kussmaul described his particular problem as ‘reading blindness’. Some years later, the man’s condition was described as ‘dyslexia’, from the Greek meaning ‘difficulty with words’.

In 1925, an American neurologist, Dr. Samuel T. Orton proposed the first theory of how specific reading difficulty arose. He placed a great emphasis on the dominance of one side of the brain. Teaching strategies he developed during his research are still in use today.

Numerous forms of specific learning difficulty were being studied during this period but became widely recognised in 1939 when Dr. Alfred Struss and R. Heinz Werner published their findings on children with a wide range of learning difficulties. Their work emphasised the variety of these problems and the importance of individually assessing each child’s particular educational needs.

Since then there have been increased levels of study into and understanding of dyslexia. Dyslexia is now understood to be a wide range of learning difficulties which affects different people in different ways.