6 Different types of dyslexia and how to help

Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty that among other things, can impact on an individual’s ability to break words down into their component phonemes, a crucial skill involved in reading, writing and spelling. People with dyslexia may be highly intelligent and creative individuals but still struggle with basic literacy skills.

With the right help, these challenges can be overcome, but because no two dyslexic students present the same set of symptoms, it is sometimes difficult for educators to identify the most effective teaching solutions.

That’s one of the reasons why researchers have attempted to group commonly observed forms into different categories, to make finding treatment easier and ensure dyslexic children of all types don’t fall behind their peers.

However, knowing how to identify dyslexia early on is just as important as being familiar with the different types. A child with dyslexia may be quite bright, but his written work will often not reflect the extent of his vocabulary.

He may present symptoms such as reversed numbers and letters, find it hard to remember the spelling of common words, especially sight words, and can struggle with reading, copying work and following instructions. He may also be disruptive in class and in some instances even adopt an anti-academic attitude as a way of dealing with the feelings of frustration and low self-confidence that result when children with learning difficulties are labelled as lazy, slow or even “not good” at reading.

But there are ways teachers and parents can help dyslexic children achieve confidence in an academic environment. One of the most effective approaches is via a touch-typing course that provides opportunities to overlearn the spelling of common vocabulary and other words that reinforce sound-letter correspondence.

Taking a multi-sensory approach also makes it easier for written assignments to be completed on a computer, which is helpful for dyslexic children who also struggle with dyspraxia. More importantly, when a child can learn at a pace that’s just right for them, they feel more in control of their learning and build positive associations with reading, which are then carried over into the classroom.

Even adults with dyslexia can benefit from a typing and spelling course, and it’s never too late to learn. One TTRS user didn’t become a reader until after he retired from work!

6 Types of dyslexia

Depending on the theory, you will find different types of dyslexia discussed. It’s important to note that there are no official subtypes of dyslexia and different schools of thought have taken different approaches to dividing them up. Additionally, a learning difficulty can vary greatly from individual to individual and people may show symptoms from multiple types or be of the same type and have different symptoms.

Phonological Dyslexia

Did you know that 75% of people who have dyslexia experience difficulty in breaking speech into individual sounds? Every language has a set of commons sounds that it reuses over and over again to form words. People with dyslexia have no trouble producing and processing the sounds they need to speak their native language. The difficulty comes with identifying the individual sounds that make up a word.

It may not seem like sounds are important in reading, but one of the first steps children must take in learning how to read is decoding words. This involves sounding them out one letter or group of letters at a time, which is a particularly challenging activity in English as there are various ways of spelling the same sounds.

To illustrate the point, here’s a tongue in cheek alternative spelling of “fish” from the pen of George Bernard Shaw: Take the f sound from tough, the i sound from women, and the sh sound from nation, and there you have it – the way to spell fish is “ghoti.” If you struggle to hear the sequence of sounds that come together to form a word, you won’t necessarily know a word when you see it or be able to spell it when it comes time to write it down.

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