Education, study and knowledge

Dyslexia: causes and symptoms of reading difficulties

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For many people, reading is a hobby, a pleasant hobby that induces us to relax and imagine ourselves stories and worlds different from ours or to reflect on the different areas of lifetime. It is also a way of learning and acquiring knowledge, capturing and giving its meaning to the written symbols that we perceive through vision, the graphemes.

But reading fluently is not something that is easily achieved.. A long process of learning and automation is necessary so that reading can become a way of acquiring information. And not in all cases this process occurs in a normative way.

For some people, reading is a tremendously complicated process, making frequent mistakes that make it difficult to understand what is written. Many of these cases of people with reading difficulties suffer from a reading learning disorder that in turn can affect academic and work performance: dyslexia.

Dyslexia: a learning disorder

People with dyslexia or a learning disorder with reading difficulties present a learning pattern with severe difficulties in recognizing the words to written level. In addition to this these individuals

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tend to have poor spelling and spelling skills, being frequent that they also have some difficulties in mathematical reasoning (dyscalculia).

The main problem of subjects with dyslexia is in the precision with which they face the act of reading, causing poor precision in the reading of words. This lack of precision causes the committing frequent mistakes, being the most common the presence of omissions of letters and sounds, repetitions and hesitations during reading, translations of the position of letters within a word, insertion of new sounds, substitutions in sounds or words or use of more frequent derivatives this.

Also, dyslexia rarely appears alone; produces many other learning problems related especially to reading comprehension. The fact of that there is a very low reading speed makes it difficult to understand the material read.

Since it is a problem that occurs early in development, the effects of dyslexia can cause a poor adjustment in the academic and work environment. It can also cause serious problems with self-esteem that can be spread over a lifetime Often, not being able to read correctly causes people with dyslexia actively avoid reading, especially if reading becomes aversive due to insistence on reading correctly.


Dyslexia is a chronic neurodevelopmental disorder, being the most common learning disorder. Although mistakes made in reading are normal at certain ages, to be diagnosed with this disorder is It is necessary for reading skills to be well below what is expected in an individual of the same maturational level and level of intelligence. It has neurological causes of a genetic basis and needs to be treated in order to improve the performance and adaptability of those who suffer from it.

Double path theory

The existence of this disorder and the fact that the ability to read is an important part of our daily life have been explored and investigated from different theories. One of the most accepted is that of Morton's model, with his theory of the double path of reading information processing.

The first route the author refers to is the direct or lexical route through which a global reading is made, recognizing the words as a whole without needing to visualize the whole word. In this way, visual stimulation is basically used to obtain information.

The second pathway proposed by this theory, the phonological pathway, would work indirectly by needing to relate the visual stimulus with the sounds it represents and later those sounds with their meaning. This second process requires that the information be converted from grapheme to phoneme, so the process is somewhat longer. It is used mainly when we do not know the word to read, being new to us and having no previous references to it.

In dyslexia, one or both pathways seem to be malfunctioning., causing the typical errors of this disorder. To better understand what happens during this disorder, we first look at the typical developmental process of the ability to read.

The typical development of the ability to read

As we have said, the ability to read is acquired throughout a long learning process, and in turn affects the rest of the development to be the fundamental reading to be able to follow the typical formative process of education formal.

In a first phase called logographic the child will use the basic form of the word to recognize familiar elements, without taking into account (and even without knowing) the sounds that each letter represents.

Later, Around the age of five, children begin to be aware that letters represent specific sounds and that these mean something, appearing the ability to mentally convert sounds into visual symbols and letters into sounds. This phase is known as alphabetic, and in them the children already begin to syllable and separate the phonemes.

Finally, approximately around seven or eight years the spelling phase would be reached, in which the individual would be able to analyze words from their syntax at a level that with time and practice will end up equal to that of an adult.

However, people with dyslexia have problems in some part of their life for some reason. process, not being able to fully recognize the shape of the word, transform it into sound, or both.

Types of dyslexia

Dyslexia is a relatively common learning disorder, but the kind of mistakes Roles can vary greatly depending on the type of reading path you are in. damaged. We can find several types of dyslexia and different ways to classify them but since the model of the double access path to reading is one of the most accepted, the most commonly used typologies are the following.

1. Phonological dyslexia

In this type of dyslexia, people have damage to the phonological pathway, being able to access reading only by visual means. In this way, the reader is unable to correctly associate the written word with its pronounced equivalent, reading only from the visual form of the word.

This is why in this type of dyslexia many mistakes are made when reading pseudowords (made up words), since they tend to associate words of which they know the shape with others. It is also frequent that they make declensions of the word and frequently fail in words with function (for example prepositions).

2. Superficial dyslexia

In superficial dyslexia, the reading problem occurs essentially in the reading of irregular words. The path to impaired reading would be the lexical one, having to focus on the sounds and phonemes of the word in order to read.

In this case, those who suffer from this type of dyslexia have trouble reading words globally, having difficulties when associating letter and sound. They often make mistakes in words that sound the same, and a high level of slowness in reading and hesitation, making several attempts to find the correct word is common.

3. Deep dyslexia

Profound dyslexia can be understood from considering that both the phonological pathway and part of the lexicon do not work correctly. The person reads through the visual, but since this path is also damaged, the problems are much greater, and may suffer semantic errors along with others typical of the other two types of dyslexia.

Treatment and educational recommendations

Dyslexia is a problem that affects a large number of people, and detect and manage it correctly may be essential in order to facilitate the normative development of the individual and his adjustment in the society.

After the diagnosis, which is carried out using procedures and batteries of standardized and popular assessments such as TALE or PROLEC In schools and psychopedagogical counseling and care teams, the start of treatment should begin as quickly as possible in order to avoid complications and facilitate development.

The treatment to be carried out will depend on the abilities of the patient, having to adapt the strategy to be applied according to the possibilities of each case. At first it will be necessary to identify the most problematic areas, in order to work them little by little and as it improves, introduce more complicated elements.

Literacy and motivation training

A fundamental part of the treatment is do literacy training, increasing the level of phonological awareness of the subject little by little while gradually increasing the time spent to read aloud (and to be able to be from attractive texts adapted for individuals with dyslexia).

It is also very useful use multisensory methods that allow the information coming from the different senses to be related, strengthening the ability to link vision and hearing.

It is essential that the treatment contains elements that help to motivate the child (or adult, if it has not been diagnosed before) and to increase his confidence, being essential the collaboration of family members and teachers so that reading does not become a torture. Reading to them at home is recommended so that they see reading as something enjoyable and positive. Criticizing their performance should be avoided as much as possible, as it is frequent that because of this they end up becoming insecure and avoiding reading.

Bibliographic references:

  • American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Fifth edition. DSM-V. Masson, Barcelona.
  • Frith, U. (1999). Paradoxes in the definition of dyslexia. Dyslexia, 5, 192-214.
  • Roca, E.; Carmona, J.; Boix, C.; Colomé, R.; López, A.; Sanguinetti, A.; Caro, M.; Sans, A. (Coord.). (2010). Learning in childhood and adolescence: keys to avoid school failure. Esplugues de Llobregat: Sant Joan de Deu Hospital.
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