Left right confusion dyslexia


Common Characteristics of Adult Dyslexia

Author Karen LoGiudice, New England Dyslexia Solutions, ©2008 (Reposted with permission) 🔊 Listen

Most adult dyslexics will exhibit at least 10 of the following traits and behaviors. These characteristics are often inconsistent, and may vary depending upon the day or situation.


  • Employed in job/position that will hide difficulties or not require dealing with problematic areas.
  • Hides difficulties from co-workers, friends and even family.
  • Becomes frustrated at “planning meetings” and sequential tasks – already has the answer and how to do it.
  • Becomes frustrated or overwhelmed with long forms or sequential processes.
  • Thrives in careers where visual-spatial/kinesthetic talents can be realized: For example – Entrepreneurs, Engineers, Trades (carpentry, plumbing, electrical), Artisans, Interior Decorating, Actors, Musicians, Police/Investigation, Athletes, and Business Executives (usually with staff/assistants).
  • May pass up promotions or advancement opportunities that would require more administrative work.
  • Has difficulty focusing and staying on task – may feel more comfortable managing many different tasks simultaneously.
  • Difficulty with tests – passing standardized tests can be a barrier to career advancement.
  • Highly successful/over achiever, or considered “not working up to potential.” Either way, displays extreme work ethic.
  • May be a perfectionist and overreact when they make a mistake.
  • Out-of-the-box thinker or operates with very strict rules for themselves.
  • Learns best through hands-on experience, demonstrations, experimentation, observation, and visual aids.


  • Highly intuitive – known to have “street smarts.” Is often “dead on” in judging personalities of others.
  • May be able to sense emotions and energy of others.
  • Remembers struggling in school.
  • Frequently have dyslexic children and experience guilt when seeing own child struggle. Insecurities arise while reading to own children or helping them with homework.
  • Easily distracted/annoyed by noises and other things in environment.
  • May appear to “zone out” and be unaware that it is happening.
  • Enjoys video games.
  • Misspeaks, misuses, or mispronounces words without realizing it.
  • May have poor balance or is/was very athletic.
  • May have excellent recall of events that were experienced or not remember at all.
  • May confuse past conversations or be accused of “not listening.”
  • Difficulty remembering names of people without tricks, but remembers faces.
  • Difficulty remembering verbal instructions or directions.
  • Poor recall of conversations or sequence of events.

Reading, Writing, and Spelling:

  • Difficulty reading unfamiliar fonts.
  • Avoids reading out loud. May dislike public speaking.
  • Will commonly perceive that they “read better silently.”
  • Has adopted compensatory tricks to remember spelling and homonyms (their, there, they’re), or misuses homonyms and has poor or inconsistent/phonetic spelling.
  • Reading fluency and comprehension fluctuates depending upon subject matter.
  • Frequently has to re-read sentences in order to comprehend.
  • Fatigues or becomes bored quickly while reading.
  • Reliance on others (assistants, spouses, significant others) for written correspondence.
  • Uncertainty with words, punctuation, and spelling when writing. Reliance on spell-check and grammar-check.
  • Words out of context look “wrong.”
  • Poor handwriting – masks spelling mistakes.
  • Writes with all capital letters, or mixes capital letters within words. Abbreviates words frequently.

Math, Time Management, Directions:

  • May understand higher math, but can’t show it on paper.
  • May excel at math, or may still rely on tricks for remembering math facts.
  • Relies on calculators or finger counting. May have difficulty with making change.
  • Difficulty with left/right and/or North, South, East, West.
  • Gets lost easily or never forgets a place they’ve been.
  • Difficulty reading maps.
  • May have anxiety or stress when driving in unfamiliar places. Relies on others to drive when possible.
  • May lose track of time and is frequently late – or is highly aware of it and is very rarely late.
  • Finds it difficult to estimate how long a task will take to complete.

Behavior, Health, and Personality:

  • May have a short fuse or is easily frustrated, angered, or annoyed.
  • Easily stressed and overwhelmed in certain situations.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Self-conscious when speaking in a group. May have difficulty getting thoughts out – pause frequently, speak in halting phrases, or leave sentences incomplete. This may worsen with stress or distraction.
  • Sticks to what they know – fear of new tasks or any situation where they are out of comfort zone.
  • Extremely disorderly or compulsively orderly.
  • Confusion, stress, physical health issues, time pressure, and fatigue will significantly increase symptoms.

If you, your spouse, or an employee displays at least 10 of these common symptoms, an initial consultation would be appropriate to see if the Davis® Program would be a fit.

Citation Information LoGiudice, Karen. (2008) Common Characteristics of Adult Dyslexia. Retrieved February 2, 2020 from Davis Dyslexia Association International, Dyslexia the Gift website: http://www.dyslexia.com/?p=295.

Why is the Davis Program a great fit for adults?

  1. The Program is facilitated one-on-one and is designed to meet your specific goals and areas for improvement.
  2. The Davis Program is a one-week, intensive program – no weekly visits!
  3. Follow-up work is done independently – on your schedule, in your own home, and with no extra expense.
  4. The program provides tools for focus, mental clarity, stress-management, energy-level management and skills that will ease reading difficulties.
  5. The Davis Dyslexia Correction® program helps people with these characteristics every day. The disabling aspects of dyslexia are correctable and can be overcome.

Adult Dyslexia and ADHD: Effects in the Workplace

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Test for Dyslexia: 37 Common Traits

Most dyslexics will exhibit about 10 of the following traits and behaviors. These characteristics can vary from day-to-day or minute-to-minute. The most consistent thing about dyslexics is their inconsistency. General: Appears bright, highly intelligent,…

Experiences – Reports from Adults

The Davis program was created by a dyslexic adult, based on discoveries made when he managed to correct his own dyslexia at age 38. The program was developed through continued research with adult volunteers. Davis Facilitators have worked successfully wi…

More Information:

Find a Davis Provider near you

Debunking the Myths about Dyslexia

Fact: Few educators have training in dyslexia; diagnosis requires a special skill set in understanding the underlying phonological component of dyslexia.

  • Myth: Evidence from twin studies shows that dyslexia is caused by inherited faulty genes.
    Fact: There is no indisputable way of diagnosing dyslexia, so it is difficult to find a valid, scientific study. The ‘Twin Study’ has several statistical errors and assumptions that invalidate it.
  • Myth: Dyslexia can be cured or helped by special balancing exercises, fish-oils, glasses with tinted lenses, vision exercises, NLP magical spelling, modeling clay letters, inner-ear-improving medications, training primitive reflexes, eye occlusion (patching), etc.
    Fact: None of these remedies have been found to be effective based on scientific evidence. Dyslexics require explicit and systematic instruction in phonological awareness, phonics, and spelling patterns and rules. Additionally, they may need strategies for vocabulary, reading comprehension and writing, as well as verbal expression and word retrieval.
  • Do we all show signs of dyslexia as we age?

    The QuickScreen dyslexia test confirms research that says we start to show signs of mild dyslexia as we get older.

    Dyslexia in older adults was the focus of a study carried out at Dundee University (Aging makes us Dyslexic, 2012). Professor Trevor Harley demonstrates that normal ageing can make us mildly dyslexic.

    This is because of the gradual decline in higher brain functioning (executive processing). It is consistent with slower word and speech processing, lapses in memory and concentration. The main finding being that phonetic processing difficulties are experienced by older non-dyslexic adults and younger dyslexics alike.

    A correlated finding about dyslexia in older adults was found by Professor Levinson, at the Levinson Medical Center for Learning Disabilities in New York. He found that ageing also makes us physically more clumsy. Our motor functioning and co-ordination gradually become less reliable. This difficulty is also known to affect a number of dyslexic people of all ages to a greater or lesser extent.

    Our own research into all the results of adults taking the QuickScreen dyslexia test, shows that older users (aged 45 – 65), with no history of learning difficulties, will manage most of the test items with relative ease and consistent results.

    However, they tend to do significantly less well on a specific task that requires processing information, memory and hand-eye co-ordination under timed conditions. In this task older adults who are not dyslexic appear to experience similar difficulties to younger dyslexic adults.

    The QuickScreen dyslexia test is available for individuals and organisations as a means to flag up indicators of dyslexia. The test is for everyone of 17 years and over – it is not just about screening for dyslexia in older adults. The test is far more thorough than many others – it goes beyond pure literacy skills. The elements that make up the test are Verbal Skills, Visual Skills, Vocabulary, Memory, Sequencing and Processing.

    On completion, you are provided with a very comprehensive report of the outcomes of all elements of the test and recommended actions. The test can be completed within 1 hour or in stages.

    We will continue with our observations and would love to hear what your thoughts and experiences are about dyslexia in older adults. Please comment on this blog and/or email us on [email protected]

    We are delighted to be supporting the British Dyslexia Association again for the 2019 Dyslexia Awareness Week.

    If you think this was interesting and could be useful to others, please share a link to this page.
    FacebookTwitterLinkedinemail On January 28, 2019 / About the test, News




    Symptoms of dyslexia usually become more obvious when children start school and begin to focus more on learning how to read and write.

    Symptoms of dyslexia in children aged 5 to 12 include:

    • problems learning the names and sounds of letters
    • spelling that’s unpredictable and inconsistent
    • putting letters and figures the wrong way round (such as writing “6” instead of “9”, or “b” instead of “d”)
    • confusing the order of letters in words
    • reading slowly or making errors when reading aloud
    • visual disturbances when reading (for example, a child may describe letters and words as seeming to move around or appear blurred)
    • answering questions well orally, but having difficulty writing the answer down
    • difficulty carrying out a sequence of directions
    • struggling to learn sequences, such as days of the week or the alphabet
    • slow writing speed
    • poor handwriting
    • problems copying written language and taking longer than normal to complete written work
    • poor phonological awareness and word attack skills

    Phonological awareness

    Phonological awareness is the ability to recognise that words are made up of smaller units of sound (phonemes) and that changing and manipulating phonemes can create new words and meanings.

    A child with poor phonological awareness may not be able to correctly answer these questions:

    • What sounds do you think make up the word “hot”, and are these different from the sounds that make up the word “hat”?
    • What word would you have if you changed the “p” sound in “pot” to an “h” sound?
    • How many words can you think of that rhyme with the word “cat”?

    Word attack skills

    Young children with dyslexia can also have problems with word attack skills.

    This is the ability to make sense of unfamiliar words by looking for smaller words or collections of letters that a child has previously learnt.

    For example, a child with good word attack skills may read the word “sunbathing” for the first time and gain a sense of the meaning of the word by breaking it down into “sun”, “bath”, and “ing”.

    AD/HD and dyslexia are distinct conditions that frequently overlap, thereby causing some confusion about the nature of these two conditions. AD/HD is one of the most common developmental problems, affecting 3–5% of the school population. It is characterized by inattention, distractibility, hyperactivity and impulsivity. It is estimated that 30% of those with dyslexia have coexisting AD/HD. Coexisting means the two conditions, AD/HD and dyslexia,can occur together, but they do not cause each other. Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability characterized by difficulties with accurate and fluent word recognition, spelling,and reading decoding. People with dyslexia have problems discriminating sounds within a word or phonemes, a key factor in their reading and spelling difficulties. (See IDA fact sheets Definition of Dyslexia and Dyslexia Basics.)

    How are AD/HD and dyslexia diagnosed?

    AD/HD and dyslexia are diagnosed differently. An evaluation for AD/HD is carried out by a physician or a psychologist. This evaluation should include the following:

    1. complete medical and family history
    2. physical examination
    3. interviews with parents and child
    4. behavior rating scales completed by parents and teachers
    5. observation of the child
    6. psychological tests to measure intellectual potential, social and emotional adjustment, as well as to assess for the presence of learning disabilities, such as dyslexia.

    Although AD/HD has been given numerous names since it was first identified in 1902, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 4th Edition (DSM-IV), describes different subtypes. These subtypes are as follows:

    1. AD/HD predominantly inattentive type is characterized by distractibility and difficulty sustaining mental effort and attention.
    2. AD/HD predominantly hyperactive impulsive type is characterized by fidgeting with hands and feet, squirming in one’s chair, acting as if driven by a motor, interrupting and intruding upon others.
    3. AD/HD combined type meets both sets of inattention and hyperactive/impulsive criteria.

    Dyslexia is diagnosed through a psychoeducational evaluation. (See Dyslexia Assessment Fact Sheet.)

    Is AD/HD over-diagnosed?

    The American Medical Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have concluded that AD/HD is not overdiagnosed; however, increased awareness has resulted in an increase in the number of individuals diagnosed with AD/HD. Girls and gifted children are actually underdiagnosed or may be diagnosed late. Girls often have AD/HD predominantly inattentive type where the essential feature is inattention. This subtype of AD/HD can easily be overlooked because the more obvious characteristics of hyperactivity and impulsivity are not present. Gifted children may be identified late because their strong intellectual abilities help them to compensate for these weaknesses in attention.

    Can individuals inherit AD/HD and dyslexia?

    Both AD/HD and dyslexia run in families. Genetics play a role in about half of the children diagnosed with AD/HD. For the other half, research has yet to identify a cause. Regarding dyslexia, about one third of the children born to a dyslexic parent will also likely be dyslexic.

    Are there characteristics that individuals with AD/HD and dyslexia have in common?

    Dyslexic children and children with AD/HD have some similar characteristics. Dyslexic children, like children with AD/HD, may have difficulty paying attention because reading is so demanding that it causes them to fatigue easily, limiting the ability to sustain concentration. People with dyslexia and those with AD/HD both have difficulty with reading. The dyslexic person’s reading is typically dysfluent, with major problems with accuracy, misreading both large and small words. The person with AD/HD may also be a dysfluent reader, but his or her reading is not characterized by misreading words. The AD/HD reader may skip over punctuation, leave off endings, and lose his or her place. The dysfluency of both the ADHD person and the dyslexic reader may negatively impact comprehension. Both may avoid reading and derive little pleasure from it. Both the person with dyslexia and the person with AD/HD typically have trouble with writing. The typical dyslexic writer has significant problems with spelling, grammar, proofreading, and organization. The AD/HD writer often has difficulty with organization and proofreading. Both the dyslexic writer and the AD/HD writer may have handwriting difficulties.
    Individuals with dyslexia and AD/HD may be underachieving in school even though they are often bright and motivated. The goal for them, as it is for all children, is to meet their potential. It is critical that children with these disorders be carefully evaluated because treatment for one disorder is different from the other. Inaccurate diagnosis can lead to inappropriate intervention and a delay in timely, effective intervention.

    Have neurological studies shown functional and/or anatomical differences in the brains of people with AD/HD as compared to dyslexia?

    The scientific community has been attempting to define the exact changes in the human brain that lead to AD/HD and dyslexia. There have been pathologic studies of a few brains from people with dyslexia after they died. While some changes in the brain have been found between the brains of people with dyslexia and people who do not have dyslexia, no consistent pattern has emerged that allows the exact “dyslexic center” to be determined. More promising techniques have been developed, which can be performed in living persons. These include imaging studies, as well as physiologic studies. Once again, interesting leads have been found, but none has given us a definitive answer regarding the underlying mechanisms of these disorders. It should also be mentioned that these tests are research tools. There are currently no biologic tests routinely available that allow an objective diagnosis of dyslexia or AD/HD.

    What is the outlook for children with dyslexia and AD/HD?

    If dyslexia and AD/HD are identified and treated early, children with these disorders are more likely to learn to overcome their difficulties while maintaining a positive self-image. Even though children with dyslexia do not outgrow their disability, they can learn to adapt and improve their weak skills. With proper remediation and needed accommodations, students with dyslexia can go on to be very successful students in colleges and universities, as well as in professional and adult life. After puberty, about 40–50% of children with AD/HD will improve and develop enough coping skills so that their symptoms no longer have a negative impact on their quality of life; however, the other 50–60% will continue to exhibit symptoms of AD/HD through adolescence and adulthood that will negatively affect their lives. It is important to remember that many students with AD/HD with appropriate support and accommodations can be very successful with higher level academic work and in their professional lives. It is never too late to diagnose these disorders. It is not uncommon for a gifted person in college or graduate school to be diagnosed with dyslexia or AD/HD. Such individuals can learn to develop their personal strengths and become not only successful students, but happy and productive adults, as well.

    Tridas, E. Q. (2007). From ABC to ADHD: What parents should know about dyslexia and attention problems. Baltimore: The International Dyslexia Association.

    The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) thanks Karen E. Dakin, M.Ed., and Gerald Erenberg, M.D., for their assistance in the preparation of this fact sheet.

    © Copyright 2017. The International Dyslexia Association (IDA). For copyright information, please .

    What Is Dyslexia?

    Reading is complex. It requires our brains to connect letters to sounds, put those sounds in the right order, and pull the words together into sentences and paragraphs we can read and comprehend.

    People with dyslexia have trouble matching the letters they see on the page with the sounds those letters and combinations of letters make. And when they have trouble with that step, all the other steps are harder.

    Dyslexic children and adults struggle to read fluently, spell words correctly and learn a second language, among other challenges. But these difficulties have no connection to their overall intelligence. In fact, dyslexia is an unexpected difficulty in reading in an individual who has the intelligence to be a much better reader. While people with dyslexia are slow readers, they often, paradoxically, are very fast and creative thinkers with strong reasoning abilities.

    Dyslexia is also very common, affecting 20 percent of the population and representing 80– 90 percent of all those with learning disabilities. Scientific research shows differences in brain connectivity between dyslexic and typical reading children, providing a neurological basis for why reading fluently is a struggle for those with dyslexia.

    Dyslexia can’t be “cured” – it is lifelong. But with the right supports, dyslexic individuals can become highly successful students and adults.


    Dyslexia is a specific learning disability in reading. Kids with dyslexia have trouble reading accurately and fluently. They may also have trouble with reading comprehension, spelling and writing.

    Dyslexia is a lifelong condition that makes it difficult for people to read. It’s the most common learning issue, although it’s not clear what percentage of kids have it. Some experts believe the number is between 5 and 10 percent. Others say as many as 17 percent of people show signs of reading issues. The reason for the wide range is that experts may define dyslexia in different ways.

    Dyslexia is mainly a problem with reading accurately and fluently. Kids with dyslexia may have trouble answering questions about something they’ve read. But when it’s read to them, they may have no difficulty at all.

    Dyslexia can create difficulty with other skills, however. These include:

    • Reading comprehension
    • Spelling
    • Writing
    • Math

    Signs and Symptoms

    Dyslexia impacts people in varying degrees, so symptoms may differ from one child to another. Generally, symptoms show up as problems with accuracy and fluency in reading and spelling. But in some kids, dyslexia can impact writing, math and language, too.

    A key sign of dyslexia in kids is trouble decoding words. This is the ability to match letters to sounds and then use that skill to read words accurately and fluently.

    One reason kids have difficulty decoding is that they often struggle with a more basic language skill called phonemic awareness. This is the ability to recognize individual sounds in words. Trouble with this skill can show up as early as preschool.

    Signs of dyslexia can look different at different ages.

    Here are some examples of signs of dyslexia:


    • Has trouble recognizing whether two words rhyme
    • Struggles with taking away the beginning sound from a word
    • Struggles with learning new words
    • Has trouble recognizing letters and matching them to sounds

    Grade School

    • Has trouble taking away the middle sound from a word or blending several sounds to make a word
    • Often can’t recognize common sight words
    • Quickly forgets how to spell many of the words she studies
    • Gets tripped up by word problems in math

    Middle School
    • Makes many spelling errors
    • Frequently has to re-read sentences and passages
    • Reads at a lower academic level than how she speaks

    High School

    • Often skips over small words when reading aloud
    • Doesn’t read at the expected grade level
    • Strongly prefers multiple-choice questions over fill-in-the-blank or short answer.

    Dyslexia doesn’t just affect learning. It can impact everyday skills and activities, as well. These include social interaction, memory and dealing with stress.

    Possible Causes of Dyslexia

    Researchers haven’t yet pinpointed exactly what causes dyslexia. But they do know that genes and brain differences play a role. Here are some of the possible causes of dyslexia:

    Genes and heredity: Dyslexia often runs in families. About 40 percent of siblings of kids with dyslexia have the same reading issues. As many as 49 percent of parents of kids with dyslexia have it, too. Scientists have also found a number of genes linked to issues with reading and processing language.

    Brain anatomy and activity: Brain imaging studies have shown brain differences between people with and without dyslexia. These differences occur in areas of the brain involved with key reading skills. Those skills are knowing how sounds are represented in words, and recognizing what written words look like.

    The brain can change, however. (This concept is known as neuroplasticity.) Studies show brain activity in people with dyslexia changes after they get proper tutoring. And scientists are learning more all the time.

    Treatment for Neurodevelopmental Disorders at NCI

    An Interdisciplinary Clinical Team Approach

    We use a multi-layered treatment approach when treating neurodevelopmental disorders. Patients are treated by an interdisciplinary team of clinicians that includes: a clinical neuropsychologist, a clinical psychologist or behaviorist, a cognitive rehab/speech language therapist and a neuromodulation clinician.

    We provide a comprehensive combination of traditional, complementary, as well as, experimental treatments not typically available at any other clinics. For instance, when treating cognitive disorders we typically treat by combining cognitive rehabilitation, with cognitive enhancers, and one or more forms of neuromodulation superimposed on comprehensive behavioral health plan that utilizes specific nutrition requirements, heart-rate variability training, maximizing sleep and the reduction of stress. Similar combination therapies are used for treating a variety of neuropsychiatric conditions such as OCD, as well as, in the treatment of chronic pain and fatigue.

    Some of these treatments and consultation options include:

    Neurocognitive Rehabilitation

    Patients admitted to the cognitive rehabilitation program enter a module based on their primary type of cognitive impairment, e.g., the Attention, Working Memory and Executive System impairment module. Each patient will receive specific treatments for this type of cognitive disorder using a combination of remedial, adaptive and compensatory interventions that have been developed at the NeuroCognitive Institute for their module.


    We often combine cognitive and language rehabilitation with neuromodulation. Neuromodulation is evolving as a treatment option for treating the cognitive, behavioral and psychiatric symptoms and deficits resulting from neurodevelopmental disorders.

    Techniques include invasive procedures such as deep brain stimulation and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), as well as, non-invasive techniques such as transcranial direct current stimulation tDCS, neurofeedback and rTMS. At NCI, we only use non-invasive neuromodulation intervention combined with other rehabilitation interventions to enhance treatment response.

    Speech and Language Therapy

    Speech and language therapy focuses on improving speech and abilities to understand and express language.

    NCI has speech therapists who can help assess speech delays, restore speech and language skills from young children to adults with neurodevelopmental disorders.

    Behavioral Health Interventions

    Behavioral health interventions focus on changing or modifying a patient’s lifestyle such as diet and introducing specific exercise programs to enhance cortical and cognitive functioning.

    Pharmaceuticals and Nutraceuticals

    We use various medications to treat the cognitive, neurobehavioral and neuropsychiatric deficits and symptoms of neurodevelopmental disorders.

    Contact Us

    If you or know anyone who needs help, contact The NeuroCognitive Institute for assessment and treatment. Call (973) 601 0100 or sign up as a new patient and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

    Source: https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/child-learning-disabilities/dyslexia/understanding-dyslexiaSource: https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/child-learning-disabilities/dyslexia/understanding-dyslexia

    Dyslexia and Autism: Differing Ends of Brain Connector Spectrum

    Evidence about some key differences in the brain structures of people with dyslexia and those on the Autism Spectrum (ASD) has been highlighted by Dr. Manuel Casanova, a neuroscientist in the University of Louisville, in the Department of Psychiatry. He’s been focusing on certain types of cortical cell connectors, called mini-columns, which are strands of brain fibers important in connecting brain cells to other brain cells. Apparently and to me not surprisingly, people with dyslexia show an opposite pattern of connectivity than people with Autism Spectrum. Pardon the expression, but “dyslexic brains” favor longer connections at the expense of shorter ones.

    People on the autism spectrum have brains that favor shorter connectors. The longer ones seen in the brains of people with dyslexia indicate an easier time with big picture thinking and abstraction. The short connectors, conversely, makes short and more localized connections. Other studies also indicate that brains of people with ASD are inefficient with making the larger generalized connections between more distant areas of the brain. This helps explain that while people with this short connector type of brain structure may see small details easily, might not quickly put together the social meaning.

    People with dyslexia also have longer fibers in parts of the brain involved in language processing. The researchers believe this leads to differences in the way their brains develop early in life and that their brains don’t adapt as efficiently to the process of learning to read. These adaptations have been shown in studies of early brain development in children without any learning disabilities.

    In short, no pun intended, dyslexic brains are structured so that they are more likely to develop a less efficient reading circuit Casanova said. This explains why children with dyslexia have difficulty sounding out words despite normal or superior cognitive skills.

    How to Differentiate Autism from a Learning Disability

    Is Autism a Learning Disability?

    Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is not a learning disability, but it can affect learning — in part because autism can affect language skills, both when listening and speaking.

    The term “learning disability” is an umbrella term encompassing a number of different problems with learning — most often in reading, writing, math, and problem solving. Learning disabilities cause people to struggle when making connections between different pieces of incoming information, and when working to comprehend and organize that information, according to Understood.org. Autism and learning disabilities can occur together, but they are distinct from one another. They can also be exclusive — that is, you can have one without the other.

    What Are the Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder?

    ASD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects how people process certain types of information. The main symptoms are:

    • difficulty with social interactions
    • engaging in repetitive or ritualistic behaviors
    • obsessions with certain topics of interest

    Individuals with ASD may share some symptoms in common, such as difficulty in social interactions and repetitive behaviors. But because it is a spectrum disorder, these symptoms can range from mild to severe. Everyone experiences ASD differently. Some children with autism have speech or intellectual delays; some do not. Some may have average or above-average IQs. Some may be high-functioning and others may have a severe disability.

    What Is a Learning Disability?

    A learning disability is a neurological condition that interferes with how someone learns. It has nothing to do with intelligence, motivation, or poor parenting. It is a difference in how information is received and processed in the brain.

    Some different types of learning disabilities include:

    • Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability. Individuals with dyslexia may have trouble with letter and word recognition, understanding words and ideas, reading speed and fluency, and general vocabulary.
    • Dyscalculia is a number-based learning disability. People with dyscalculia may struggle with recalling sequences of numbers, calculating using math functions, organization of numbers, operation signs, number facts, counting, and telling time.
    • Dysgraphia is a writing-based learning disability. Individuals with dysgraphia may have problems with neatness when writing, illegible handwriting, copying letters and words, spelling, and organizing their thoughts on paper.

    Auditory or visual processing disorders cause problems in understanding language that is heard or seen. With auditory processing disorder, you may have difficulty distinguishing subtle differences in sounds and speaking individual sounds within words. With visual processing disorder you may miss subtle differences in shapes, such as interchanging m and n. You may also reverse letters and numbers and have poor hand-eye coordination.

    Nonverbal learning disorders (NLD) cause problems in distinguishing nonverbal language, such as tone of voice, facial expressions, gestures, and body language. There also may be difficulty with motor coordination and memory recall. Children with NLD are sometimes clumsy and can lack awareness of personal boundaries.

    How Do the Symptoms of ASD and LD Overlap?

    ASD and learning disabilities share some common characteristics:

    • Both are lifelong conditions
    • Neither has a cure
    • Both can significantly impact a person’s life
    • Early detection and intervention is important in both
    • Sensory processing issues, emotional dysregulation (meltdowns), and trouble with social skills are common in ASD and all learning disabilities

    These and other overlapping symptoms can make both ASD and LDs difficult to diagnose:

      • ASD, social communication disorder, ADHD, and receptive language learning disabilities may all include trouble reading non-verbal cues, including determining other people’s feelings based on facial expressions. A person with any one of these conditions may be a literal thinker who often does not understand puns, riddles, sarcasm, and figures of speech.
      • ASD and ADHD both share difficulties with executive function, including organization, time management, problem solving, and emotional dysregulation.
      • ASD, ADHD, and sensory processing disorders all include sensory issues. People with sensory issues may either seek out or avoid sensory input.
      • ASD, dyspraxia, dysgraphia, and sensory processing disorders can all cause motor skill problems, clumsiness, and poor handwriting.
      • ASD, language-based learning disabilities, and nonverbal learning disabilities can all make it difficult to verbally express yourself, follow conversations, and speak at an appropriate volume and/or inflection.

    Because of these overlapping symptoms, a thorough evaluation and accurate diagnosis are both important. Strategies and interventions differ based on the condition. Some solutions that work well with learning disabilities may not work for autism, and vice versa according to Understood.org. A developmental-behavioral pediatrician can help distinguish between the different conditions and work with you to create a treatment and intervention plan.

    Autism and Learning Disability
    Is Autism a Learning Disability?
    The Difference Between Autism and Learning Disabilities
    What is a Learning Disability?


    Updated on January 12, 2020

    Are There Different Kinds of Dyslexia?

    Have ever seen an article or heard someone say that they or their child has a particular type of dyslexia? Some names I’ve heard are:

    • dysphonetic dyslexia
    • auditory dyslexia
    • dyseidetic dyslexia
    • visual dyslexia
    • double deficit dyslexia
    • attentional dyslexia

    Being on the alert for false claims about dyslexia, I set about researching these ‘different kinds of dyslexia’ to see if they are helpful for parents to understand.

    Factors That Can Contribute to Dyslexia

    The idea that dyslexia is fundamentally an issue with phonemic awareness or phonological processing (the ability to hear and manipulate the individual sounds of language) has dominated our understanding of dyslexia for years. However, this particular type of weakness is not the only factor that can contribute to dyslexia.

    Other factors that can contribute to dyslexia:

    • Attention
    • Orthography, or the ability to recall spelling patterns.
    • Rapid automatized naming (RAN), or the quick naming of colors, objects, letters or digits.
    • Perceptual or processing speed – visual scanning speed
    • Working memory or recalling and rearranging information

    No two people with dyslexia will have the exact same learning profile. Dyslexia can be mild, moderate or profound and can be caused by several different specific weaknesses or combination of weaknesses.

    3 Subtypes of Dyslexia

    In the book Proust and the Squid, Dr. Maryanne Wolf theorized that there are 3 subtypes of dyslexia.

    Phonological Processing Deficit

    The most common of these subtypes is a deficit in phonological processing and this impacts the ability to decode/sound out words. This particular type of weakness has also been called Dysphonetic Dyslexia or Auditory Dyslexia.

    People with this subtype of dyslexia simply have a harder time processing the individual sounds that make up spoken words and they have a harder time mapping the sound, or phoneme, to the written letter, or grapheme.

    Signs of Phonological Processing Deficit:

    • Have at least average listening comprehension and oral vocabularies
    • Have problems with word recognition that usually center upon phonemic awareness and word decoding
    • Often have fluency problems involving inaccurate or non-automatic word reading
    • Have reading difficulties that often emerge early (i.e., K-3)
    • Reading comprehension problems are related entirely to word reading

    Help for Students With Phonological Processing Weaknesses: Kids with Phonological Processing weaknesses benefit from explicit, systematic instruction in phonics – also known as the Orton-Gillingham Approach. They often benefit from fluency activities targeting automaticity of decoding.

    Rapid Naming Deficit

    The second subtype of dyslexia, according to Dr Wolf, is a deficit in rapid naming. This particular set of weaknesses has also been referred to as Dyseidetic Dyslexia or Visual Dyslexia.

    People with this subtype of dyslexia will have normal phonological processing, but their fluency and comprehension will be affected by the retrieval of language based information. These are the people that will have problems with word recall, either by saying the wrong word or the word is “on the tip of their tongue”. This affects fluency because it takes longer to retrieve language information. This also affects comprehension because sometimes the retrieved language information is wrong because retrieving the wrong definition or wrong word can change meaning.

    Signs of Rapid Naming Deficit:

    • Have at least average word recognition and phonological skills
    • Have reading comprehension problems that frequently involve listening comprehension or oral vocabulary knowledge
    • Listening comprehension usually not low enough for speech and language services eligibility.
    • Have no history of early decoding problems
    • Any fluency problems tend to be based in language, not single word reading
    • Difficulties often, though not always, emerge later in schooling (around 4th grade and up)

    Help for Students With Rapid Naming Weaknesses: Students with rapid naming weaknesses benefit from instruction targeting the their specific comprehension weaknesses (e.g., vocabulary, background knowledge, pragmatic language.) Vocabulary and language comprehension development are more likely to improve fluency than are interventions focused on automaticity of decoding. These students may also benefit from slow reading as a strategy to improve comprehension.

    Double Deficit Dyslexia

    The third subtype of dyslexia is double deficit: deficits in both phonological processing and rapid naming. This subtype is the least common and the hardest to remediate.

    Signs of Double Deficit Dyslexia:

    • Have difficulties with word recognition and phonological skills
    • Have poor reading comprehension that is only partly accounted for by decoding (e.g., poor comprehension may occur even in text the child decodes well)
    • Listening comprehension or oral vocabulary also often weak (but again, not necessarily low enough for speech and language services)
    • Fluency frequently is poor due to problems in both word reading and language comprehension
    • Difficulties tend to emerge early in schooling (K-3) due to problems with word reading, but may persist even after remediation of decoding skills, because there is an additional comprehension component to the child’s reading difficulties

    Help for Students With Double Deficit Dyslexia: Students with Double Deficit Dyslexia benefit from both of the above types of instruction.

    Research from neuroscientists at MIT and Stanford/UCSF now supports Maryanne Wolf’s theory on the 3 subtypes of dyslexia by showing different patterns of brain activation when reading and rhyming words. Children with a deficit in phonological awareness only, rapid naming only, or difficulty in both areas each showed different patterns of brain activation and connectivity as revealed by MRI.

    What does all of this mean to parents?

    I have always noted among my own kids that some of them struggled more with auditory processing (as in the first subtype) and some struggled more with visual processing (the second subtype). I have also noted that my more profoundly dyslexic son struggled in both areas. Ultimately, all of the subtypes respond to researched based intervention found in programs based on the Orton-Gillingham approach, like All About Reading, which also includes comprehension instruction.

    Do we need to get our kids tested? Read this post on when and how to get your kids tested for dyslexia.

    How about you? Have you heard of different kinds of dyslexia?

    Types of Dyslexia

    Exploring Different Types of Dyslexia

    Are there different types of dyslexia? If there are, they might require different kinds of interventions. This suggests it is important we identify any varieties that might exist. As a first step, consider the Venn diagram below that breaks out reading disabilities by deficit. About 20% of people have a reading disability and they fall somewhere in the three blue circles depending on their deficits.

    The different combinations of deficits confirms that struggling readers will likely require some personalized interventions. But differences within the phonological deficit circle alone, which we explore below, add further to the complexity.

    Types of Reading Disabilities

    There are three kinds of reading deficits.

    • Phonological Deficit
      Difficulty decoding or assembling words based on their sounds. Note that phonemic awareness is not a reading deficit per se since it involves only sounds and not letters.
    • Speed/Naming Deficit
      Slow reading; poor use of sight words. A sight word is a word that is instantly recognized by the reader; is not sounded out, and requires almost no effort to understand.
    • Comprehension Deficit
      Poor understanding of what was just read.

    The Bottom Line

    All varieties of dyslexia involve a significant phonological deficit, regardless of whether there is a comprehension or speed deficit. In practice, most people with dyslexia have at least two deficits.
    See our What is Dyslexia page for more detail.

    But people with severe reading disabilities aren’t randomly distributed across the three deficit circles. A whopping 80% have a phonological deficit and fall in the top bubble. These are the ones we would call dyslexic. They typically have difficulty discriminating and manipulating phonemes, lacking the ability to easily decode or assemble words based on their constituent sounds.
    About 20% of those with reading disabilities have speed and/or comprehension problems but can sound out words without difficulty – they technically don’t have dyslexia but will need reading help, just a different kind of help. See the Dyslexia Treatment page for more details on the specific kinds of help.

    Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry and Rocky Road Dyslexia?

    Can we divide the group of people who are in the top bubble further into more specific dyslexia types? Are there 101 flavours? The short answer is yes, there are different types and these types do have some implications for treatment.Unfortunately, academics and researchers identify and define more types of dyslexia than parents and teachers can keep track of. Further, many websites define different types incorrectly or discuss types which are not widely recognized at all.

    Below is a taxonomy of only the most commonly recognized and discussed types of dyslexia.

    Subtypes of Dyslexia

    By Sensory


    By Time of

    Non Reading

    Auditory Dyslexia

    Visual Dyslexia

    Attentional Dyslexia

    Developmental Dyslexia

    Acquired Dyslexia

    Click on each type above for more details. A short description is provided below.

    By Sensory System:

    Auditory Dyslexia

    Auditory dyslexia involves difficulty processing sounds of letters or groups of letters. Multiple sounds may be fused as a singular sound. For example the word ‘back’ will be heard as a single sound rather than something made up of the sounds /b/ – /aa/ -/ck/. Single syllable words are especially prone to this problem.

    Visual Dyslexia

    Visual dyslexia is defined as reading difficulty resulting from vision related problems. Though the term is a misnomer, visual problems can definitely lead to reading and learning problems.

    Attentional Dyslexia

    A 2010 study from Tel Aviv University in Israel found a type of dyslexia they call attentional dyslexia in which children identify letters correctly, but the letters jump between words on the page. ‘kind wing’ would be read as ‘wind king.’ The substitutions are not caused by an inability to identify letters or convert them to sounds, but instead result from the migration of letters between words—the first letter of one word switches place with the first letter of another word.

    By Deficit

    Phonological Dyslexia

    Phonological dyslexia is extreme difficulty reading that is a result of phonological impairment, meaning the ability to manipulate the basic sounds of language. The individual sounds of language become ‘sticky’, unable to be broken apart and manipulated easily.

    Surface Dyslexia

    According to Nancy Mather and Barbara Wendling in their excellent 2012 book Essentials of Dyslexia Assessment and Intervention, surface dyslexia is:

    “A type of dyslexia characterized by difficulty with whole word recognition and spelling, especially when the words have irregular spelling-sound correspondences.”

    Deep Dyslexia

    Deep dyslexia is an acquired form of dyslexia, meaning it does not typically result from genetic, hereditary (developmental) causes. It represents a loss of existing capacity to read, often because of head trauma or stroke that affects the left side of the brain. It is distinguished by two things:semantic errors and difficulty reading non-words.
    By Time of Onset:

    Developmental Dyslexia

    Developmental dyslexia is not so much a type of dyslexia, it is dyslexia.

    In fact our definition of it would be the same as our definition of dyslexia generally: Extreme difficulty reading caused by a hereditary, brain based, phonologic disability.

    So why do people use the term instead of just saying dyslexia? The simple answer is they are trying to be more specific, distinguishing ‘regular’ dyslexia from the other types of dyslexia. In particular, distinguishing it from acquired forms of dyslexia that result from stroke or head trauma for example, which often present very differently. For more on developmental dyslexia, visit the International Dyslexia Association website.

    Acquired Dyslexia

    This type results from trauma or injury to that part of the brain that controls reading and writing. Late in life this can be the result of a tumor or stroke.

    Other Dyslexia Types:

    Directional Dyslexia

    Directional dyslexia is distinguished by left-right confusion and a tendency to become disoriented or lost. The term is also occasionally used to mean confusion with letters such as p and b or d and b, where there is confusion over the ‘direction’ of the letter. Generally, problems with directions are a symptom of dyslexia more than a sub-type. Not all people with dyslexia have this problem.

    Math Dyslexia (dyscalculia)

    Math dyslexia or dyscalculia is not, in fact, a type of dyslexia, but we included it here because the term is frequently used. According to the U.S. National Center for Learning Disabilities, math dyslexia, or dyscalculia, refers to a wide range of lifelong learning disabilities involving math, varies from person to person and affects people differently at different stages of life.

    As with reading, when basic math skills are not mastered early, more advanced math becomes extremely difficult. Approximately half of people with dyslexia also have dyscalculia, though far less research has been conducted regarding testing, assessment and remediation.

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    Image Note: (types of reading disabilities) Inspired by a similar diagram in Moats, L, & Tolman, C (2009) in Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS): The Challenge of Learning to Read (Module 1). Boston: Sopris West. Note that the original diagram did not include dyslexia within the framework, and the authors may or may not agree with its orientation here.


    There are several types of dyslexia (or learning disabilities) that can affect the child’s ability to spell as well as read. The types are identified by the nature of the problem within the central nervous system or brain.

    Trauma Dyslexia usually occurs after some form of brain trauma or injury to the area of the brain that controls reading and writing. It is a permanent brain injury rarely seen in today’s school-age population because it results from severe head injuries.

    Primary dyslexia is a dysfunction of, rather than damage to, the left side of the brain (cerebral cortex) and does not change with age. Individuals with this type of dyslexia are rarely able to read above a fourth-grade level and may struggle with reading, spelling, and writing as adults. Primary dyslexia is passed in family lines through their genes (hereditary). It is found more often in boys than in girls.

    Secondary or developmental types of dyslexia is felt to be caused by hormonal development or malnutrition during the early stages of fetal development. Poor parenting, abuse, neglect, and/or poor nutrition during the developmental years 0 to 5 are also known causes. Developmental dyslexia diminishes as the child matures. It is also more common in boys.

    This type of dyslexia is most often found in special education classes. It is this category of dyslexia or learning disability that responds best to the classroom accommodations and modifications found in special education classrooms that assist the child with learning while his nervous system continues to develop.

    Types of Dyslexia Eligible for Special Education Services

    Visual dyslexia is the term used for the specific learning disability termed visual processing disorder. This form of dyslexia is the result of immature development of not only the eyes, but the whole process that gets information from the eyes to the brain.

    Eyes that are not completely developed will send incomplete information to the brain. Incomplete information to the brain then results in poor comprehension of what the child has read, or poor memory of visual information. Sometimes this process results in number and letter reversals and the inability to write symbols in the correct sequence.

    Phonological (auditory) dyslexia refers to the specific learning disability termed auditory processing, or the more severe condition termed Auditory Processing Disorder (OPD). This form of dyslexia involves difficulty with sounds of letters or groups of letters. When this form of dyslexia is present, the sounds are perceived as jumbled or not heard correctly. And just as with visual processing, the brain correctly interprets information that it correctly received.

    Dyspraxia refers to the learning disability term sensor-motor integration and is a widely pervasive motor condition characterized by impairment or immaturity of the organization of movement, with associated problems of language, perception and thought. Typically, the child in question may be seen to be clumsy and poorly coordinated.

    The term dyspraxia is separated into “true dyspraxia” a lifelong condition that responds to some degree to consistent, early, and structured intervention; and “developmental dyspraxia” a matter of neurological immaturity, a delay rather than a deficit that can be resolved over time with appropriate treatment. The problem is that only time determines the difference.

    “Verbal praxis” refers to weaknesses observed in the mechanisms of speech production such that articulation is impaired and expressive language is inhibited. Speech production and articulation are not considered learning disabilities, and are addressed by a speech and language therapist.

    Dysgraphia is the term given to the most significant educational effects of the condition and refers to an inability to hold or control a pencil so that the correct markings can be made on paper. These symptoms are most commonly seen as poor letter formation in printing, or as poor cursive handwriting skills. As a specific learning disability these symptoms would be identified as immature fine motor development.

    Dyscalculia is a lesser known disability, similar and potentially related to dyslexia and developmental dyspraxia.

    The term refers to an impairment of the ability to solve mathematical problems, usually resulting from brain dysfunction. It occurs in people across the whole IQ range, and sufferers often, also have difficulties with time, measurement, and spatial reasoning.

    Although some researchers believe that dyscalculia necessarily implies mathematical reasoning difficulties as well as difficulties with arithmetic operations, there is evidence that an individual might not be able to manipulate the numerals in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division (or dyscalculia), with no impairment of, or even giftedness in, abstract mathematical reasoning abilities.

    Dyscalculia can be detected at a young age and measures can be taken to ease the problems faced by younger students in the same way that dyslexia can be dealt with by using a slightly different approach to teaching. However, dyscalculia is the lesser known of these learning disorders and so is often not recognized.

    Aspects of Treatment

    Before any treatment is started, an evaluation must be done to determine the specific type of dyslexia. While there are many theories about successful treatment there is no actual cure. There are, however, many techniques for helping the child to learn.

    In addition to what the school has to offer, there are alternative treatment options available outside the school setting. Although alternative treatments are commonly recommended, there is limited research supporting the effectiveness of some treatments. In addition, many of treatments for different types of dyslexia are very costly, and it may be easy for frustrated parents to be misled by something that is expensive yet sounds attractive. A more reasonable and inexpensive plan of action is outlined in an earlier article about preventing learning disabilities.

    Perhaps the most important aspect of any treatment plan for dyslexia is attitude. If the parents avoid the tendency to label their children, and maintain a positive attitude, the child will be influenced by the attitudes of the adults. As a consequence, problems with self-esteem, depression and other emotional concerns that usually accompany dyslexia will become less of a problem.

    If you have dyslexia and are looking for information, interventions and literacy help, www.beatingdyslexia.com is highly recommended.

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