Dyslexia: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment


A person with dyslexia usually has normal intelligence and vision. When dyslexic children receive tutoring or a specialized education program, they are likely to succeed in school. Supporting them emotionally is also essential.

Even though dyslexia is incurable, early identification and intervention improve outcomes. Dyslexia may not be diagnosed for years, and it may not be noticed until adulthood, however, it is never too late to seek assistance.

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What is dyslexia?

The learning disorder dyslexia affects your abilities to read, spell, write and speak. They are often hardworking and smart, but they have difficulty connecting the letters they see with the sounds they make.

The percentage of Americans with dyslexia varies from 5% to 10%, depending on the symptom. This learning disorder can also affect adults. Diagnosis starts at a young age for some people. Those who are older may not recognize they have dyslexia.

Dyslexic kids are often smart just like their peers and have normal vision. However, it takes them longer to read because they have trouble keeping up. When you have trouble processing words, you may have difficulty spelling, writing and speaking clearly.

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Types of dyslexia

Researchers are studying the groups of symptoms that some dyslexics experience, but no diagnostic “types” of dyslexia exist.

It is important to identify an individual’s specific challenges so they can receive the support they need. There are some people who experience:

  • Phonological dyslexia: This is also called dysphonic or auditory dyslexia, in which a person has difficulty breaking words down into smaller units, which makes it difficult to read words that match their sound.
  • Surface dyslexia: Dyslexia, or dyseidetic or visual dyslexia, is a condition in which it is difficult to learn and remember words by sight.
  • Rapid naming deficit: It involves being unable to name a letter or number when you see it.
  • Double deficit dyslexia: Letters and numbers are difficult to name when you have difficulty isolating the sounds.

There is also a term “directional dyslexia” used to describe people who have trouble identifying left from right. Symptoms like this are common in this condition.

It is called dyscalculia if a person has difficulty with math and numbers. There are times when it occurs independently or in conjunction with dyslexia.

What causes dyslexia?

A genetic factor is believed to be responsible for this condition, so it tends to run in families. Your chances of having dyslexia are higher if one or more family members have it.

Language is processed in different parts of the brain in individuals with APD. When someone with dyslexia reads, areas of their brains that are supposed to be active are not active.

Whenever a child learns to read, it begins with figuring out what each letter sounds like. As an example, a “B” is pronounced “buh.” “M” sounds like “em.” Once learned, these sounds are combined into words (“C-A-T” spells “cat”). Last but not least, they need to determine what the words mean (“Cat” is a furry animal that meows).

Children with dyslexia find it difficult to connect letters to their sounds and then blend those sounds into words. Dyslexics may interpret the word “cat” as “tac.” As a result, reading can be a slow and difficult task.

Everyone suffers from dyslexia differently. Milder forms can be mastered over time. Other forms are more difficult to overcome. Dyslexic children may not be able to completely outgrow their condition, but they can still go to college and be successful.

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Dyslexia symptoms

There are only a few early symptoms of dyslexia that can help you identify the problem before your child starts school. It is likely that your child’s teacher will notice a problem first once they reach school age. The severity of the condition varies, but it is usually apparent when a child begins reading.

Before school

Young children who are at risk for dyslexia may display the following symptoms:

  • Late talking
  • Taking time to learn new words
  • Having difficulty forming words correctly, such as reversed sounds in words or names that sound like each other
  • Having trouble identifying colors, shapes and letters
  • Nursery rhymes are difficult to learn or play

School age

Symptoms of dyslexia may become more apparent once your child has entered school, including:

  • Reading well below age-appropriate levels
  • Inability to process and understand what they hear
  • Having trouble finding the right words or coming up with proper answers
  • Finding it difficult to remember sequences
  • Similarities and differences in letters and words are difficult to see (and sometimes hear)
  • An inability to recognize words from written text
  • Spelling difficulties
  • Completing reading or writing tasks for an unusually long period of time
  • Refraining from reading

Read: Speech Disorders

Teens and adults

The signs of dyslexia in adolescents and adults are similar to those seen in children. Teenagers and adults with dyslexia may display the following symptoms:

  • Reading aloud is difficult
  • Reading and writing take a lot of effort
  • Problems spelling
  • Avoiding reading-related activities
  • Problems pronouncing words and retrieving them
  • Unable to understand jokes and expressions that do not have an obvious meaning (idioms, for example, “piece of cake” meaning “easy”)
  • Completing reading or writing tasks in an uncharacteristically long period of time.
  • Finding it difficult to summarize a story
  • Finding it difficult to learn a foreign language
  • Having trouble memorizing
  • Struggling with mathematics


The following problems can be caused by dyslexia:

  • Trouble learning: The difficulty of reading makes dyslexic children at a disadvantage in most school subjects, and they may have trouble keeping up with their peers.
  • Social problems: Leaving dyslexia untreated can cause low self-esteem, problems with behavior, anxiety, aggression, and frustration with friends, parents, and teachers.
  • Problems as adults: When a kid grows up, not being able to read and comprehend can hold them back. It can even affect them socially and economically.

There’s a high risk of ADHD in children who have dyslexia, and vice versa. ADHD can make dyslexia harder to treat because of hyperactivity and impulsiveness.

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How to diagnose dyslexia

The only way to diagnose dyslexia is through a combination of tests. Several factors are taken into consideration, including:

  • Consider your child’s developmental, educational and medical history. You will likely be asked questions about these areas and will be asked if any problems run in your family, such as learning disabilities.
  • Home life. If you have any problems at home, the doctor may ask who lives at home and if everyone is doing well.
  • Questionnaires. Questions may be asked by a doctor, a family member or teacher. Reading and language ability tests may be administered.
  • Vision, hearing and brain (neurological) tests. It can be difficult to determine whether your child has another disorder causing or aggravating his/her reading difficulty.
  • Psychological testing. In order to learn more about the mental health of your child, the doctor may ask you and your child questions. This will help you determine if your child is suffering from problems like social anxiety or depression.
  • Various standardized test measures. A reading expert may be able to analyze your child’s process and quality of reading skills after they have taken a set of educational tests.

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Dyslexia treatment

Dyslexia is a lifelong condition – the abnormality underlying it cannot be corrected. The chances of success are improved with early identification and evaluation to determine specific treatment requirements.

Educational techniques

There are several educational approaches and techniques that are used to treat dyslexia, and the earlier this intervention is begun, the more effective it will be. Teachers can develop a learning program that is suitable for their child based on psychological testing.

Teaching strategies that utilize hearing, vision, and touch can be used to improve reading skills. The use of several senses while learning – for example, listening to a taped lesson and tracing the letter shapes and the words spoken – can promote better processing of the information.

The goal of treatment is to help your child:

  • Identify the individual sounds that make up words (phonemes) and use them effectively
  • The sound of these words is represented by the combination of letters and strings of letters (phonics).
  • Comprehend the information that is being presented.
  • Building fluency, accuracy, and speed in reading by reading aloud.
  • Expansion of vocabulary through recognition and understanding

Children with dyslexia may benefit from tutoring sessions with a reading specialist if they are available. It may be necessary to tutor your child more often if he or she has a severe reading disability, and progress may be slower.

Read: Pervasive Developmental Disorder

Individual education plan

It is a legal obligation for schools in the United States to assist children who have dyslexia in learning. Obtain a structured, written plan from the teacher that explains the needs of your child and the ways the school will help him or her. These plans are called Individualized Educational Plans (IEPs).

Early treatment

Getting extra support in kindergarten or first grade can greatly improve dyslexic children’s reading skills, allowing them to thrive in grade school and high school.

It may be more difficult for children to learn to read correctly if they don’t receive help until later in school. A lack of academic preparation may mean they can never catch up to their peers. Even if a child is dyslexic and will never be able to read easily, he or she can learn reading skills and develop strategies for improving school performance and quality of life.

What parents can do

The success of your child depends on you. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Address the problem early. Consult your child’s doctor if you suspect that he or she has dyslexia. An early diagnosis can make a big difference.
  • Encourage your child to read aloud. Start your child’s breastfeeding when he or she is at least 6 months old. Have your child listen to recorded books. Read the stories with your child after he or she has heard them.
  • Work with your child’s school. Discuss how the school can help your child succeed with his or her teacher. It is your responsibility to advocate for your child.
  • Encourage reading time. To get better at reading, children need to practice reading. Make reading a priority for your child.
  • Set an example for reading. It’s important to set an example by reading something of your own while your child reads – this encourages your child. You can encourage your child to enjoy reading by reading to them.

Read: Cognitive Disorder

What adults with dyslexia can do

Dyslexic adults may struggle to succeed in the job market. Here are some tips to help you succeed:

  • If you need assistance with reading or writing, seek evaluation and instruction regardless of your age
  • Your employer or academic institution may be able to provide you with additional training and reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act

People with dyslexia do not necessarily have academic problems. Given the right resources, dyslexic students can be highly successful. Some dyslexics are creative and talented in the arts, science or mathematics. Some dyslexics are even successful writers.

How to cope with dyslexia

Providing emotional support for dyslexic children and giving them the opportunity to succeed in activities other than reading is important. Parents of dyslexic children should:

  • Be supportive. Children experiencing difficulty with reading may develop low self-esteem. Let them know you love and support them. Praise their talents and accomplishments.
  • Talk to your child. It is not a personal failing when your child has dyslexia. A child who understands this will be better prepared to deal with having a learning disability.
  • Take steps to help your child learn at home. Your child should have access to a quiet, clean study area, and a study time should also be set aside. Additionally, your child should eat regular, healthy meals and get enough sleep.
  • Limit screen time. You should limit the amount of time your child spends on electronic devices and instead spend that time reading.
  • Get in touch with the teacher. To keep your child on track, talk to the teacher frequently. Don’t forget to give him or her extra time for reading-intensive tests. Please ask your child’s teacher if recording the lessons for later playback would benefit your child.
  • Join a support group. Contacting parents whose children have the same learning difficulties can help you stay connected. Information and support groups are also helpful. If you are looking for a support group in your area, please talk with your doctor or your child’s reading specialist.

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Preparing for your appointment

Your child’s pediatrician or family doctor is the best person to talk to if you have concerns. The doctor may recommend your child see a specialist to make sure another problem isn’t behind the child’s reading difficulty:

  • A specialist, such as an ophthalmologist (eye doctor)
  • An audiologist who evaluates hearing
  • An neurologist who treats brain and nervous system disorders
  • Neuropsychologist: a doctor specializing in the brain and behavior
  • Developmental and behavioral pediatricians specialize in developing children’s abilities and behaviors

For support and to help you remember information, if possible, bring a family member or friend with you.

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What to expect from your doctor

There are likely to be many questions your doctor will ask you. Prepare to answer any questions you may have so that you have time to discuss any points you wish to discuss. For example, your doctor might ask:

  • What was the first time you noticed your child was having difficulty reading? How did you find out?
  • What are your child’s academic achievements?
  • How old was your child when he/she started talking?
  • How have you tried to teach your child to read? Which methods have you used?
  • Do you suspect your child’s difficulties reading may be causing him or her to have behavioral or social problems?
  • Are there any vision problems with your child?