Misunderstandings about developmental dyslexia: a historical overview

  • Pietro Smirni Department of Educational Sciences, University of Catania, Catania, Italy.
  • Luigi Vetri | luigi.vetri@gmail.com Departiment of Health Promotion, Maternal and Child Health, Internal Medicine and Specialist of Excellence “G. D’Alessandro”, University of Palermo, Italy.
  • Eliana Misuraca Geriatric Unit, Department of Internal Medicine and Geriatrics, University of Palermo, Italy.
  • Marco Cappadonna Departiment of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Messina, Italy.
  • Francesca Felicia Operto Child and Adolescent Neuropsychiatry Unit, Department of Medicine, Surgery and Dentistry, University of Salerno, Italy.
  • Grazia Maria Giovanna Pastorino Child and Adolescent Neuropsychiatry Unit, Department of Medicine, Surgery and Dentistry, University of Salerno; Sleep Lab for Developmental Age, Clinic of Child and Adolescent Neuropsychiatry, Department of Mental Health, Physical and Preventive Medicine, University of Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli”, Napoli, Italy.
  • Rosa Marotta Department of Medical and Surgical Science, University “Magna Graecia”, Catanzaro, Italy.


History of the reading disorder not due to an intellectual disability, inadequate teaching systems or poor motivation to study, referred to as developmental dyslexia, has very remote origins. The first attempts explain the disorder as a primary ‘visual defect’. Since then, several models have been developed until autopsy and histo-pathological studies on the brains of developmental dyslexics provided neuroanatomical evidence on the structural and morphologic differences between normal and dyslexic brains. In addition, the new neuroimaging technologies have allowed to understand the neural systems of reading and dyslexia. According to recent studies, developmental dyslexia appears as a neurodevelopmental multicomponent language-related disorder with a deficit in phonological decoding and in visuospatial organization of linguistic code. As a result, rehabilitation must be focused on the recovery of language and visuo-spatial and attentional processes underlying the complex and multi-component developmental dyslexia. This brief overview should be a valid tool for a deeper understanding of the dyslexic disorder. Literature searches in Medline, PsycINFO, EMBASE, Scopus, PubMed, Web of Science identified one hundred articles focusing attention on how this disorder has been considered over the years.



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developmental dyslexia, phonological decoding, attention
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How to Cite
Smirni, P., Vetri, L., Misuraca, E., Cappadonna, M., Operto, F. F., Pastorino, G. M. G., & Marotta, R. (2020). Misunderstandings about developmental dyslexia: a historical overview. Pediatric Reports, 12(2). https://doi.org/10.4081/pr.2020.8505