Is Dyslexia Genetic or Hereditary?

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Blog post updated on 29th June 2023

The exact cause of dyslexia is unknown. However, there is known to be a genetic factor and hereditary influence on dyslexia. Find out here if dyslexia is genetic.

Is Dyslexia Genetic or Hereditary?

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Dyslexia often appears to run in families. It is thought that certain genes that someone inherits from their parents “may act together in a way that affects how some parts of the brain develop during early life.”

According to Nelson Dorta (PhD) for, about 40% of siblings of children with dyslexia “also have reading issues.” 49% of parents of dyslexic children also have dyslexia. Despite these statistics, the exact ways that genetics lead to dyslexia are still not very well understood.

Many people think about genetics in terms of one gene being passed on from a parent to a child. Normally if a gene were associated with a condition, both the parent and the child would have that condition. With dyslexia however, there are multiple genes with differences, not just the one.

Does the Mother or the Father Pass on Dyslexia?

A mother is feeding her baby while a father is holding the baby.
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Both mothers and fathers can pass dyslexia on to their children if either parent has it. There is roughly a 50% – 60% chance of a child developing dyslexia if one of their parents has it.

“A few genes associated with dyslexia are on the X chromosome.” Females have 2 of these chromosomes while males have one X chromosome and one Y chromosome. Even though both genders have at least one X chromosome, dyslexia is more commonly diagnosed in males. The fact that both genders have at least one of these chromosomes is also why either the mother or the father can pass dyslexia onto their child.

Can Dyslexia Skip a Generation?

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Image by Askar Abayev,

The inheritance pattern of dyslexia is complex and does not strictly adhere to skipping generations. While dyslexia can run in families, it does not necessarily mean that every generation will be affected. In fact, the risk of inheriting dyslexia is influenced by multiple factors, including genetic and environmental factors.

However, it is possible for individuals to carry the genetic predisposition for dyslexia without exhibiting significant symptoms themselves, but their children may still be at an increased risk.

The inheritance of dyslexia can vary within families. It is not uncommon to observe a pattern where one generation may have multiple affected individuals, whereas the next generation might have fewer or none at all. 

What is the Likelihood of Someone Inheriting Dyslexia?

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According to an American study, the risk of a child developing dyslexia is increased from 4 times to 13 if one of their parents has a similar diagnosis.

Dr. Beve Hornsby found that 88% of dyslexics had a near relative who had similar issues with reading and spelling.

The Dyslexia Research Trust once conducted a study where they “collected nearly 400 families with at least 1 dyslexic child” in Oxford, U.K. The DRT “detected a strong signal (of dyslexia) on the short arm of chromosome 6,” whereas they located the strongest linkage on chromosome 18. The DRT also gathered similar findings in a second set of families they collected in the USA while another research group “confirmed the same chromosome 18 site in a set of families (they) collected in Australia.”

The name of the gene that is most likely to cause dyslexia is KIAA0319. It is strongly associated with chromosome 6 in people with dyslexia.

Is dyslexia dominant or recessive?

Dyslexia is not determined by simple genetics of dominance or recessiveness. Instead, it is a complex, multifactorial condition influenced by multiple genes and their interactions, along with environmental factors.

While specific genetic factors have been linked to dyslexia, it is often considered a polygenic trait, meaning that it involves multiple genes with varying contributions.

This complexity makes it challenging to predict dyslexia based solely on the presence or absence of dominant or recessive genes, as it is common with simple genetic traits.


Many people believe that dyslexia runs in families. If a mother or a father has dyslexia, either of them can pass it on to their child. Children have a higher chance of developing dyslexia if at least one of their close relatives also has it.

At Exceptional Individuals, we have a dyslexia test you can take to see if you have traits of dyslexia.

Disclaimer: Please only use the quiz as an indicator. The questions on the pre-diagnostic assessment are designed to stimulate a starting point in whether or not you would be interested in official diagnostic assessments for dyslexia and not diagnoses.

Blog Author

April Slocombe