Acquired Dyslexia


Can dyslexia be caused by an illness or a brain injury?


The information on this website is focused on developmental dyslexia — the type of dyslexia that is genetically influenced and becomes apparent in early childhood.

When dyslexia develops later in life tied to brain illness or injury, it is called “acquired dyslexia” — the symptoms may very well be the same, but the underlying cause is different.   Developmental (childhood) dyslexia is tied very closely to the process of brain development — the symptoms or the skills that are impaired do not develop in typical ways. The brain has developed normally, but in a way that makes it more difficult for the child to acquire skills such as learning to read in the same way as most other children.

In acquired dyslexia, the person’s brain had developed the ability to function in a typical way, but some sort of event, such as an illness or head injury, has caused damage to the brain that impairs that function.   The exact type of impairment and prognosis for recovery is variable because there is an essentially unlimited number of ways and levels of severity that brains can be damaged.

It is of course possible for a person to have both. For example, a person with a childhood history of dyslexia might experience an illness or injury that makes things worse.  This situation is fairly common with head injuries such as a concussion.


  • Una A Ditaranto

    im 51 starting college was told a while ago that I dyslexia and couldn’t belive no one pick up on it I have been struggling with this for years hiding the fact I had it I really don’t don’t know were to turn! to get a test or were to start as I have a new job which requires me to go back to school . can any one suggest someone ?

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Una, if your job requires you to attend a specific college program, a good starting point would be to contact the disabilities office of that college. They can guide you to as to what they require for a student to qualify for accommodations, and also let you know what support resources they can offer.

      If you would like to explore getting help to overcome your dyslexia, you can find a Davis Facilitator by checking our directory at — you can start with a simple consultation to explore options.

  • Daniel Reams

    I was left handed in kindergarden half way in my 1st grade year I got bashed in the right side back of my head that left a right to left scar. After getting out of the hospital I had to go to a special class multiple days a week. They started using a longer version of my name and I had switched to my right hand. I was forced to take the 1st grade a second time. I was walking out of class the next year and lost a few days. I woke up in hospital. I had been pushed backward into the corner of a doorway and cracked my head open again in the same place but this time it left a up and down scar. it looks like a + sign in the back right side of the back of my head. I was in special ed classes until high school. As an adult I relize I have dyslexia and have found fonts help me read better.
    I don’t have memories of the incidents I only have other people to tell me that it happened that way. Does this sound like acquired dyslexia? Is there a surgery that could have happened instead and they made the story up. I was on a military base at the time and there’s no record of the special class I took. I can’t find a surgery for that side of the head on basic Google searches. Thank You for your time.

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      Daniel, because your head injuries occurred at such a young age, it would be very hard to tease out what present-day difficulties stem from the injury and what, if any, are connected to being born with dyslexic tendencies. I’d suggest that you learn about some of the strengths that commonly are associated with developmental (inborn) dyslexia. The pattern of strengths & weaknesses are more likely to be connected to developmental dyslexia… although there are also some reported cases of individuals suddenly developing new talents after a head injury. But I’m guessing that’s probably more unusual.

  • Abby

    I was taking a shower after a long walk. The one knob controls hot and cold water. I didn’t know which way to turn it for cold and hot. I felt like I couldn’t remember. Years back I had a similar situation where I forgot which side of the envelope the stamp should go. Should I be this dyslexia?

  • Nishat Tasnim

    Hi. I have already completed post graduation. In past 3 to 4 years I have been that I am having trouble reading. My pace of reading gradually slowed and now I am in a point where I can’t even go through 1 page . After reading 5/6 lines I feel dizzy, concentration breaks, known words looks like unknown words. I used to complete reading a 200 page book within 2/3 hours now I can’t even complete it in months. I don’t understand why this is happening. is it some kind of disorder?

    • Abigail Marshall, DDAI webmaster

      I think there are many different medical conditions that could cause this loss of ability. It could also be tied to the effects of medications prescribed for other conditions. I hope that you are able to discuss your concerns with your doctor– you may need more medical testing or a referral to get to the bottom of this. It would probably be a good idea to have your vision checked for changes as well.

  • Susan Botha

    I have never had trouble reading (started at age 5) or with maths. Lately, however, I find myself switching numbers (part of my job is doing the financial books!). I am 61 – is this just old age?? (at 61 ??)

  • MRM

    I excelled in reading when I was younger, but in high school, I received a TBI. Since, I will see a word for what it is but when I write it down it can be in a completely different order. The same is with math. I have to read something several times to be able to read it correctly and to understand it’s true context. Now in college, it’s become even more prevalent in my life.

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