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Specific Learning Disorder in Reading/Dyslexia

Updated: 4 days ago

Dyslexia, a specific learning disorder, makes it difficult for students to learn to read

A specific learning disorder in reading impacts an individual's ability to complete reading-related tasks. When considering reading, an individual may struggle to read words correctly (possibly guessing based on the first letter or letters), read words quickly, sound out words correctly, or comprehend what has been read. Differences may be present in one or more areas of reading. A specific learning disorder in reading is often first noticed when a student begins to connect sounds with letters (e.g., “s” says /s/) or letter groups (“sh” says /sh/). Individuals with reading differences can also have a difficult time with pre-reading activities, like rhyming. According to The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity preschool-aged children who have reading differences may also have a more difficult time remembering the letters of the alphabet or common nursery rhymes. It might also take longer for students who recognize the letters within their name. These differences often continue as children progress in school and can adversely impact an individual’s interest in reading.


Dyslexia refers to a specific pattern of reading difficulties that include weaknesses in word reading accuracy and/or fluency, decoding, and spelling. Word reading accuracy refers to an individual’s ability to read a word correctly, while fluency refers to their ability to quickly read words. Decoding is the ability to sound out a word based on the sounds that individual letters or letter groups (e.g., /sh/) make. Spelling includes the ability to correctly spell words, both those that can be easily sounded out and those that need to be memorized (e.g., “trick” words) because they cannot be sounded out.


An individual may have a specific learning disorder in reading (or dyslexia) if they:

  • Struggle to remember previously taught words

  • Confuse similar sounding words (e.g., tornado and volcano)

  • Struggle to remember provided words from one sentence to the next

  • Have a tough time sounding out words

  • Experience difficulty rhyming

  • Struggle to spell words correctly

  • Seem to know spelling words when practicing yet struggle to perform well on spelling tasks

If you or your child is struggling with any of these tasks, there are things that can help!

  • Complete a psychoeducational evaluation to gain more information about reading skills (e.g., this helps to pinpoint areas of strength and difficulty)

  • Consider sharing a copy of this evaluation with your or your child’s school. You or your child may qualify for extra support

  • Additional supports at school may include:

  • Meeting with a reading specialist

  • A quiet room for testing

  • Extra time to complete tests

  • The option to have things read aloud by an adult

  • Not having to read aloud in class

  • Possibly not having to complete a foreign language

  • In addition to possible support at school, other tools may be helpful

  • Audiobooks for reading assignments and/or textbooks

  • Speech-to-text options to support spelling

  • The ability to type responses to support spelling

  • Apps and games (The University of Michigan has a great list)

  • Consider meeting with a reading tutor


While these differences are important to look for in order to help with early identification and early intervention, it is also very important to highlight associated strengths. In her book Overcoming Dyslexia: Second Edition Sally Shaywitz, M.D. highlights the strengths that often go hand-in-hand with reading differences, like dyslexia.

  • Curiosity

  • Strong imagination

  • Problem solving skills (the ability to figure things out)

  • Open to new ideas

  • Maturity

  • Large vocabulary for their age

  • Enjoyment in solving puzzles

  • Excellent comprehension of stories read aloud


Contact us with questions or to schedule an evaluation to help identify reading differences.

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