Exploring the Different Types of Dyslexia and Their Characteristics
DIFFERENT TYPES OF DYSLEXIA
Phonological Dyslexia - This is the most common type of dyslexia. Students can’t break down individual sounds of language (phonemic awareness) and match them with written symbols.
This makes it difficult to sound out or “decode” words. Most kids with reading issues have some degree of phonological dyslexia. It’s also sometimes referred to as dysphonetic dyslexia.
Surface Dyslexia - This makes it hard to remember whole words by sight. We all have to read some words by sight if they can’t be pronounced using the normal rules of pronunciation. We also read many regular words by sight once we encounter them often and become fluent readers.
Kids with dyslexia may have particular trouble with words that don’t sound the way they’re spelled, such as weight or debt. They may also take longer to be able to recognize common words by sight.
That’s because their problems with decoding can get in the way. Decoding issues keep kids from encountering words often enough to begin to recognize them as a whole.
Surface dyslexia is also called visual dyslexia or dyseidetic dyslexia. It’s not uncommon for kids to have both surface and phonological dyslexia.
Rapid Naming Deficit - Kids with this issue can’t rapidly name letters and numbers when they see them. They can say the names, but it takes them longer to name many of them in a row. Experts think this problem reflects an issue with processing speed. They also think it’s linked to reading speed.
Stealth Dyslexia - It is a term used to describe dyslexic students who demonstrate age-appropriate reading ability and strong verbal skills, and thus are often not identified as having learning difficulties. A person diagnosed with stealth dyslexia has problems sounding out (or decoding) words just like people with “classic” dyslexia. However, what makes them different from typical dyslexics is that their scores on tests of reading comprehension are typically above average, or even very high. Even if the struggles of people with stealth dyslexia are not so visible, they, too, are still having a hard time. They particularly have issues with reading new (and long) words, reading out loud, silent reading speed and accuracy, spelling and writing.
Double Deficit Dyslexia - Experts believe that issues with naming speed are separate from problems with phonemic awareness. But some kids have both. The “double deficit” refers to a mix of phonological dyslexia and rapid naming deficit.
Kids with this double deficit have trouble isolating sounds. And they can’t quickly name letters and numbers when they see them. This usually adds up to a more severe form of dyslexia that is particularly challenging to remedy.
Visual Dyslexia - Visual Dyslexia can refer to a range of things, often suggesting an unusual visual experience when looking at words. This term sometimes describes the challenge of surface dyslexia. Kids can’t recognize whole words by sight. The reason most likely is that their brain finds it difficult to remember what the word looks like.
Some people use the term to mean something else and not Dyslexia. They think reading issues have to do with the eyes. Some claim reading can be improved through eye exercises or tinted lenses. The American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t endorse these approaches because there isn’t enough evidence to back them up.
You may hear about other kinds of dyslexia that aren’t widely recognized as actual “types.” For example, Directional Dyslexia refers to difficulty telling left from right and with sense of direction. Most experts recognize this as a common problem for people with dyslexia. But they don’t see it as a type of dyslexia on its own.
*Some people also refer to something called Math Dyslexia. This is an inaccurate name for a brain-based math learning issue called Dyscalculia, which is not a form of dyslexia.
VARYING DEGREES OF DYSLEXIAMild Dyslexia - If you are reading this, the person you are concerned about will likely NOT fall into this category. People who are mildly Dyslexic don’t seek out help. Their Dyslexia is so mild, they usually have no clue they have it, and if they known they have Dyslexia, it is probably because a close relative has a severe degree of it. I would expect my first born son could be described as mildly Dyslexic, because he presents characteristics of Dyslexia, but has no substantial evidence of being Dyslexic.
Mild-Moderate Dyslexia - is a bit more pronounced than mild, but still most likely not someone who seeks out help. This person may feel they struggled a little in school, but it wasn’t enough to really affect their progress. I would suspect this is where my third child falls in place. He has never received any special services or intervention.
Moderate Dyslexia - Someone who is moderately Dyslexic may exhibit such difficulties either early on in childhood, later in life or at any point really. They may need some extra help and accommodations. They may benefit from tutoring or one-on-one instruction, but they are likely to be able to finish school without much, if any extra services or help.
Moderate-Severe Dyslexia - This person is likely to struggle in school. Will probably need extra help to fully succeed in school. Would definitely benefit from accommodations and tutoring or one-on-one instruction, If special attention is not given to this student, they will likely start to fall farther and farther behind in school. Remember I was labeled as having a “reading disability” as a child, but I suspect this is where I fall in the spectrum of Dyslexia.
Severe Dyslexia - These are the Dyslexics whom we become worried about their progress in school. These are the kids who keep us up at night wondering what is going on. They are so smart, but they don’t get what the lesson was about. They try and try to read, but can’t grasp it. They are pulled out of class for Special Ed services, but they still aren’t making any progress. This is my youngest son.
Severe-Profound Dyslexia - The line becomes blurred to the severity between Severe and Profound.
Profound Dyslexia - This is the kid who is struggling so much you don't know what to do. Absolutely nothing the school does, helps. They can grasp it. They can’t spell for their life. They are stressed out and embarrassed by the fact that they can’t get it. They think they are stupid and will never learn to read or spell. They just want to be done with school! This is where my daughter falls in the spectrum of Dyslexia. Spoiler Alert: They can learn to read (and spell) too!
LEXIA LEARNERS LOUNGE
Jess Arce is a homeschool mom of four, a tutor for children & adults who struggle with Dyslexia & Dysgraphia and an all around entrepreneur. She is passionate about helping others understand dyslexia.