Dr. Stein's Psychology Blog
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While it’s common knowledge that kids who have dyslexia find reading to be a more challenging task than others, most people don’t realize that there are actually different types of dyslexia, all of which can make mastering reading difficult. In my experience as a child neuropsychologist in Red Bank, New Jersey, I have gained expertise in distinguishing the different types of dyslexia. I tailor specific remediation or compensation strategies based on the specific needs of the child and his or her type of dyslexia in order to help solve the problem.
Generally speaking, there are three different broad categories of dyslexia. (Also, it is possible for a child to have more than one type of dyslexia.):
Phonological Dyslexia: Phonological dyslexia is one of the most common forms of dyslexia and is aquired developmentally through heredity and genetics. Approximately 75% of all dyslexia cases fall into this category. It is characterized by problems with subtle deficits in auditory abilities, because believe it or not, learning to read is a skill heavily influenced by oral language abilities. In laymen’s terms, phonological dyslexia is an issue with breaking words down into syllables and into even smaller units of speech referred to as phonemes. For instance, if you verbally present a word to a child who has trouble sounding out words, he or she can hear the word without difficulty and even repeat it back to you accurately. However, the child will not be able to tell you how to divide that word apart into the different sounds that make up this whole word.
A child with phonological dyslexia finds it frustrating to match the phonemes (sounds) with their written symbols (graphemes). When testing for phonological dyslexia, psychologists provide children with made up words to determine if the child can sound it out correctly. For example, the psychologist would show the word “bab,” a made up word, to the child. A child with phonological dyslexia would typically struggle to read the word “bab” aloud correctly.
Surface Dyslexia: Surface dyslexia is a type of dyslexia is also development and passed down through genes. Unlike phonological dyslexia, a child with surface dyslexia can sound out words well, even nonsense words. However, he or she can’t read or spell words spelled irregularly. It’s hard for the child to recognize irregular words, even after seeing them more than once. They need to scruntinize some words, sound them out, and decode them upone every encounter. Some examples of challenging sight words for a child suffering from surface dyslexia are “island” and “yacht.” Surface dyslexia impacts rate of speech and reading comprehension. Surface dyslexia also negatively impacts spelling skills.
Attentional Dyslexia: Although the name suggests that there may be a focus problem, attentional dyslexia is NOT connected with Attentional Deficit Disorder (ADD). Attentional dyslexia is a rare type of dyslexia, typically caused by damage to the left parietal lobe of the brain from labor, illness, or accident. It is a reading problem in which letters migrate between neighboring words. The child can accurately pronounce and sight read words. However, in this form of dyslexia, letters actually seem to move to other words. For example “lap dog” could be read as “dag log.” It’s a challenge for the reader to keep the relative position of the word intact. As they child becomes older and is presented with longer and more complex words, reading comprehension decreases. Also the disorder is negatively impacted by strong emotions such as anxiety, anger, and excitement. Behavioral therapy with a psychologist may help manage emotions and improve reading ability.
Once a reading problem is identified, it is possible to learn strategies to improve reading skills and minimize frustration. If you or someone you know is struggling with reading in any way, consider scheduling an appointment with me for a psychoeducational evaluation. Feel free to call me at my office for a 15 minute free consultation to determine if this is right for you.
I'm a clinical psychologist and neuropsychologist with a private practice in Red Bank, NJ.