July 26, 2023

What is Dyslexia? Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a learning disorder that causes difficulty with reading, speech sounds, and relating letters and words. It is the most common learning disability and often affects a person for the duration of their life. Children with dyslexia do not have an intellectual or cognitive disability, and the disorder is not a product of a visual or hearing issue.

The degree of dyslexia, whether mild or severe, will vary from individual to individual. Dyslexia is most often diagnosed when a child is in school age, generally in elementary school, at which point parents, teachers, and health professionals can discern how well he or she does in school and in reading.

Symptoms of Dyslexia

Because dyslexia causes difficulty with reading, many parents will not understand that there is a problem until their child reaches school age. However, there are a few indicators to look out for early-on. These include:

  • Difficulty forming words, like mixing up sounds
  • Delays in learning new words
  • Problems learning or reciting rhymes

As a child enters school, he or she may:

  • Have below-average reading levels
  • Have difficulty seeing, hearing, or saying different sounds
  • Spell words incorrectly and/or have disorganized writing
  • Be unable remember sequences (like numbers or letters)
  • Take much longer to finish reading and writing exercises

Teenagers and adults will struggle with these problems as well. Additionally, they may have trouble understanding jokes or idioms, mispronounce words, or have problems trying to learn a new language.


Diagnosis and Types of Dyslexia

There are several different kinds of dyslexia.

Primary Type Dyslexic

The most common type is primary type. It occurs when there is a dysfunction in the cerebral cortex. Primary type is hereditary, and those with the disorder will have it for the entirety of their lives.

Secondary Type Dyslexic

Begins at the early stages of brain development during fetal development. Unlike primary type, this form will diminish with age. It is more commonly found in boys than in girls.

Trauma Type Dyslexic

Occurs when there is a physical injury in the area of the brain that controls reading and writing.

Visual and Auditory Types of Dyslexic

Cause problems with interpreting visual and audio signals. Someone with visual type may have problems following sequences while writing, and someone with auditory type will have difficulty perceiving sounds correctly.

If a child is suspected to have dyslexia, it is important to act early so that reading and writing difficulties do not drastically affect him or her later on.

Treatment of Dyslexia

There are a number of factors a health professional will consider in making a diagnosis and evaluating the severity of the disorder. Alongside academic performance, a health professional will administer tests to see how a child processes visual and audio information. There is no cure for dyslexia, however there are a number of things one can do to help children tackle learning difficulties early-on. Of particular importance is for parents and health professionals to engage with the child’s school and come up with an education plan. Children with dyslexia may benefit from special education tools such as technology (computers, tablets, and educational games) or having extra time to complete in-class work. Tackling dyslexia from an early age is crucial in building confidence, enthusiasm for learning, and preventing any difficulties from persisting into adulthood.


  • Mayo Clinic


  • Yale University


This article is examined by Clinical Child Psychologist and Ph. D. Researcher Kevser Çakmak, and produced by Otsimo Editorial Team.

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This post does not provide medical advice. See Additional Information.