The Different Types of Dyslexia: Targeting Intervention

Posted by Erica Warren on

Although reading disorders were recognized back in the late 1800s, the term dyslexia didn't become a recognized condition until the 1970s-1980s.  
Since then, it has received an enormous amount of research and professional-based attention.  However, many educators and clinicians are still mystified about how to best pinpoint the specific needs of each student with dyslexia.  
The different types of dyslexia
The primary underlying cause of this confusion is the fact that there are many cognitive weaknesses or deficits that can trigger a diagnosis of dyslexia.  So much like a dart board, if service providers continue to aim interventions at the wrong place, they may play a frustrating game and they will certainly never hit the bull’s-eye.  As a result professionals have begun to propose subtypes that categorize dyslexics based on common symptoms, so individuals with dyslexia can be understood and service providers can target the needed areas of attention. 

What are the different types of dyslexia?

The three most commonly defined subtypes of dyslexia are Dyseidetic Dyslexia or Visual Dyslexia, Dysphonetic Dyslexia or Auditory Dyslexia and Dysphoneidetic or Alexic Dyslexia. 
Dyslexia remedial games
  1. Dyseidetic Dyslexia or Visual Dyslexia: is when a learner struggles with the decoding and or spelling of words because he or she has great difficulty remembering or revisualizing the word, particularly irregular sight words (also known as eidetic words).  These learners tend to have good auditory processing skills as well as an understanding of phonics, but they struggle with visual processing, memory synthesis and sequencing of words.  Word or letter reversals when reading, as well as writing and spelling difficulties are also common.
  2. Dysphonetic Dyslexia or Auditory Dyslexia: is when a learner struggles with the decoding and or spelling of words because he or she has great difficulty associating sounds with symbols (also known as phonemic awareness).  These learners tend to have good visual processing skills, but they have deficits in auditory processing as well as linking a sound to a visual cue.
  3. Dysphoneidetic or Mixed Dyslexia: is when a learner struggles with both visual and auditory processing deficits.  This subcategory is known as Mixed Dyslexia or Dysphoneidetic Dyslexia 

What about the Other Cognitive Struggles that Are Often Associated with Dyslexia?

Although the above designations are somewhat helpful, they do not address all the areas that can be associated with dyslexia such as difficulties with handwriting, oral language, math, motor planning and coordination, organization, orientation to time, focus and attention, spatial perception, and eye movement control.Happy student with dyslexia

As a result, Mattis French and Rapin proposed a different breakdown based on a study they conducted of 113 children with dyslexia. They proposed three very different classifications: 
  1. Syndrome I: Language Disorder - These learners experience anomia, comprehension deficits, and confusion with speech and sound discrimination.
  2. Syndrome II: Articulatory and Graphomotor Discoordination - These learners exhibit gross and fine motor coordination deficits, as well as poor speech and graphomotor coordination.
  3. Syndrome III: Visuospatial Perceptual Disorder - These learners have poor visuospatial perception and difficulties encoding and retrieving visual stimuli.

But What About Those That Learn to Compensate for Dyslexia?

Although dyslexia presents significant challenges, many learn to compensate and become successful and celebrated professionals.  Dr. Fernette and Brock Eide coined yet another term, Stealth Dyslexia, to describe gifted dyslexics who learned to compensate for reading difficulties with great analytical and problem-solving strengths.  However, these learners still experience significant difficulties with writing and spelling.  Because they are so smart, the difficulties these individuals experience are often characterized with inappropriate labels such as careless or lazy.  As a result, many with stealth dyslexia can feel a sense of learned helplessness.  So, although these new ways of breaking dyslexia down into subcategories is helpful, clearly they still need to be refined.  I am dyslexic myself and feel that none of the subcategories or designations captures my profile.  Perhaps the solution lies in allowing each individual diagnosis to list the specific areas of cognitive deficits that impact learning so individual students can receive tailored interventions.

How Can The Core Skills that Cause Dyslexia Be Remediated?

At Good Sensory Learning, we offer a number of publications that serve the needs of dyslexic learners with auditory deficits.  Auditory Processing Games for Online or in-person Learning and Reversing Reversals Primary offers activities that exercise core auditory processing skills and our Following Directions activities address listening skills, as well as language processing.  We also offer a series of reading and board games that support remedial reading programs and exercise both auditory discrimination and synthesis.  In addition, we offer resources for those that need to strengthen their visual processing skills in the areas of reasoning, tracking, discrimination, directionality, synthesis, figure-ground, closure, motor, and spatial skills. In addition, those with a double deficit can benefit from our reading games as well as MPower, a publication that exercises rapid automatic naming and organizational skills.  Furthermore, one should consider developing visualization skills for all learners with dyslexia as this improves working memory as well as long-term memory. 

I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic. 
Cheers, Erica
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator, and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning. She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Learning Specialist Courses.

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