Adults and Aging

Dyslexia is a brain trait, a cognitive style associated with challenges and strengths, and as such, is not something to be cured. Many individuals with dyslexia learn to overcome their troubles with reading and spelling and thrive in their professional lives, particularly when they choose careers that focus on their strengths, such as film making (i.e. Steven Speilberg), story telling (Philip Shultz), social cognition (Gavin Newsom), architecture, surgery etc. On the other hand, adult dyslexics are still likely to show some degree of weakness in written language skills, such as slow reading rate and, despite being able to read and write, they generally dislike written material. Just as any other physiologic trait, the dyslexic cognitive and neural phenotype is likely to influence the aging process.

At UCSF, we not only focus on children but also on the adult and aging with dyslexia in a program that is tightly linked to the Memory and Aging Center’s extensive experience in evaluating healthy aging adults. The adult and aging project program has two main goals:

  1. Characterize the parents and grandparents of dyslexic children. We hope to identify their cognitive and neural strengths that can be applied in helping their children at a younger age, when their strengths and weakness are still not fully developed or apparent.
  2. Identify whether the dyslexic trait influences the aging process, thus helping to understand how diseases of the elderly might be misdiagnosed or mistreated in individuals who have a life-long history of dyslexia.