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Dyslexia: Is It Really a Thing?

YES!! Dyslexia is really a thing. It goes by many different names and manifests in many different ways.

The first thing most people think of when you say “dyslexia” is a person who flips their “b”s and “d”s or who remembers numbers out of order; in fact, that is only one small symptom of only certain types of dyslexia.

There are actually four different types of dyslexia: phonological dyslexia, surface (or orthographic) dyslexia, rapid automatic naming dyslexia, and double-deficit dyslexia.

People with phonological dyslexia have difficulty recognizing individual letter sounds in a word, and then blending those sounds into a word. Phonemic awareness, the core foundation of reading ability, is very difficult for them to grasp.

Surface dyslexia is manifested as trouble identifying words by sight. These people can readily identify letter sounds and blend words, but don’t have the automaticity to recognize common sight words necessary for fluent reading. They often have to sound out each word separately, making reading very tedious. Very poor spelling skills are a red flag for this type of dyslexia.

For those with rapid naming difficulties, recognition of letters and numbers takes longer for the brain to process than it does for most other people. This can inherently lead to slower reading speed.

Double-deficit dyslexia is when a person has two of the other types of dyslexia; phonological dyslexia and rapid naming difficulties often occur together. Surface dyslexia is less common.

Dyslexia is not “curable” but luckily, there are many evidence-based and well-researched effective interventions to help students who have these challenges. Two of those interventions, Wilson Reading System and Orton-Gillingham Approach, are currently services we offer at ACHIEVE Psychological and Academic Services, LLC.

Due to the legislation laid forth in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA), school districts generally pursue dyslexia concerns as a “Specific Learning Disability in Basic Reading Skills.” School Psychologists in Ohio do not often specifically refer to any of these groups of symptoms in reports as “dyslexia,” even though their assessment results and the observed symptomology may support it. This does not mean you kiddo does not have dyslexia! They are just using the terminology from IDEIA rather than common cultural language.

Dyslexia is also not included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5); from a psychiatric perspective, it is considered a “Learning Disorder in Reading.”

Confusing much!? We understand!! Our evaluations are comprehensive, and can address how a child’s reading deficits relate to the definitions for dyslexia, specific learning disabilities, and learning disorders in our reports. Here’s to clarity in identifying the problem and its possible solutions!

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