According to substantiated scientific estimates, the group of European Citizens with dyslexia and specific learning differences encompasses between 5 and 12 percent of the population, navigating through life in a largely non-‘dys’ friendly world. Dyslexia is the most widespread specific learning difference, making the acquiring and using of reading, spelling and writing skills and other communication-related cultural abilities difficult (commonly known as ‘DYS-differences’). Quoting academic surveys, other learning differences as dysphasia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia and attention deficit disorder exist commonly with dyslexia; known as ‘DYS-differences’, (concluded under ‘DYS’). A same person can also accumulate some of these differences, dyslexia being associated to dysphasia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia or attention deficit.

Co-occurrence of the DYS-differences is obvious:

  • 50 % of persons with dyslexia are dyspraxic as well.
  • 40 % of persons with dyspraxia are either dyslexic or have differences in attention.
  • 85 % of persons with dysphasia are dyslexic as well.
  • 20 % of persons with dyslexia are having differences in attention with or without hyperactivity.
  • 50 % of hyperactive children are dyslexic etc.

It is generally (and indisputably) known and documented that the cultural abilities of reading and writing are among the most important prerequisites in our society for individual cultural, social and economic development and success. Furthermore, across Europe, the diversity of languages and the multilingual demands, socio-cultural backgrounds as well as educational opportunity, have a significant influence on the manifestation of difficulties and life-chances for children, adolescents and adults with DYS differences.

Without sufficient knowledge in this area, failure in school, employment, general communication impairments and social segregation are common threats, with well-known consequences in the lives of those affected, their family members and society.

More than a century of research has enabled us to increase our understanding of how humans acquire language and literacy skills, and why people with dyslexia find the process difficult to access.

There have been significant advances in procedures that enable earlier identification of dyslexia, determine which interventions work best and then to develop appropriate support for people with dyslexia in schools as well as the workplace.

Despite that, dyslexia presents concerns and challenges for millions of children and adults across Europe. These challenges require major changes for governments, policymakers and organisations to improve attitudes, legislation and positive practice in education and the workplace.

Many of the issues relating to dyslexia can be improved through raising awareness of dyslexia and what can be done to adapt to it. That is why the vision of the EDA is to ensure that “every child and adult with dyslexia has the right to access and receive appropriate support and opportunity to achieve their full potential in education, training employment and life”.

Researchers acknowledge that there are many possible causes of each single or accumulated DYS differences, including genetics.

There is no relationship between a person's level of intelligence, individual effort or socio-economic position and the presence of dyslexia and /or a “DYS” difference.

It may be caused by a combination of difficulties in the cognitive development of abilities like phonological processing, working memory, rapid naming, sequencing and the automaticity of basic skills.