What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a disorder that affects the way an individual learns and processes language. Dyslexia has been around for a long time but has most recently become more prevalent. Originally thought to be a reading disability characterized by the reversal of letters in words, dyslexia today encompasses a wide range of symptoms that primarily affect children of normal intelligence. Children with dyslexia not only fail to attain language skills in the areas of reading, writing and spelling but also struggle to use language for learning and understanding abstract concepts. Dyslexia is a neurological, brain-based disorder that can have lasting effects on not only reading but also learning as well as social and emotional development.

Social and Emotional Issues

Many children with dyslexia exhibit normal as well as above-normal intelligence. Dyslexia can go undiagnosed in the early years, often leading to emotional issues, feelings of inadequacy and poor self-esteem. The effects of dyslexia can be very frustrating for children, especially when learning to read. Children with dyslexia tend to struggle more once their peers start to pass them by. Once learning starts to revolve around abstract concepts, children again become quite frustrated with their inability to keep up with their peers. When feelings of inadequacy start to take hold, behavior difficulties often develop. Behavioral problems can easily carry over into adult life, often manifesting in fear of failure and underachievement.

More Than Just Reversals

Letter and number reversals are quite common with dyslexia, but the disorder can go beyond that. The most common problems associated with dyslexia include:

  • Difficulty copying from the board
  • Problems with handwriting
  • General disorganization
  • Difficulty remembering content
  • Trouble with spatial relationships
  • Confusion with left/right and before/after
  • Fact memorization
  • Trouble learning to tie shoes
  • General awkwardness

As it relates to language and learning, children with dyslexia often have difficulty with:

  • Early speech and language development
  • Vocabulary
  • Phonemic awareness
  • Learning letters and sounds of letters
  • Manipulating sounds in words
  • Sequencing
  • Direction following
  • Recalling words and names
  • Understanding concepts and relationships
  • Identifying words that rhyme
  • Early reading skills

Auditory Processing and Dyslexia

The primary problem associated with dyslexia is language. We learn language by first learning to listen. Accordingly, anyone can see how auditory processing development can play an active role in the diagnosis of dyslexia. An auditory processing evaluation can be quite helpful in putting the pieces together and thus developing a plan of action. Children diagnosed with dyslexia often exhibit auditory processing weaknesses, specifically with auditory decoding skills and dichotic skills.

Auditory decoding weaknesses may include deficits in the areas of temporal processing (delays in timing or delay in processing speed), auditory closure (filling in for missing information), phonemic blending (blending individual sounds together to make words) and phonemic segmentation (removing different sounds patterns from words).

Dichotic skills represent the ability to integrate auditory information from both hemispheres of the brain. Many children with diagnosed dyslexia show left ear dominance when testing for dichotic skills. Test results that show left ear dominance may indicate right hemisphere dominance for language, or more likely, a neurologically-based language and learning disability consistent with the diagnosis of dyslexia. If an auditory processing evaluation displays weaknesses in these areas, then a "daily listening diet" of exercises targeted at auditory decoding and dichotic skills can prove very helpful.

A “Daily Listening Diet”

When auditory processing deficits become a piece of the puzzle, a “daily listening diet” can prove quite helpful. Learn why a daily listening diet is a critical element in remediating an auditory processing problem.