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Unlocking the Mystery of Dyslexia: How Identifying Subtypes Can Lead to Success

Updated: 6 days ago


Reading disorders, also known as dyslexia, are a common issue among children and can greatly affect their academic success. However, not all cases of dyslexia are the same. In fact, there are several subtypes of dyslexia that can have different causes and require different types of interventions.


The four main subtypes of dyslexia are:

  • Phonological/dysphonetic dyslexia: This subtype is characterized by difficulty with phonemic awareness and decoding, which makes it difficult for the child to break down words into their component sounds. In addition, children with this type of dyslexia often have weak auditory processing skills and struggle with speech perception and production.

  • Surface dyslexia: This subtype is characterized by difficulty with word recognition and is often caused by a lack of visual memory. Children with surface dyslexia may have trouble recognizing words by sight, even if they have been taught the correct spelling. Children with surface dyslexia often have difficulties with letter reversals and have difficulties reading words that look similar but have different meanings (e.g., "bent" and "bend") or pronunciations.

  • Mixed dyslexia: This subtype is a combination of phonological and surface dyslexia. Children with mixed dyslexia may have difficulty with both phonemic awareness and visual memory.

  • Comprehension deficits: This subtype is characterized by difficulty with understanding the meaning of written text, even when the child can read the words correctly. Children with comprehension deficits may have trouble with vocabulary, text structure, and inferencing.

It's important to identify the specific subtype of dyslexia a child has so that the appropriate interventions can be implemented. For example, a child with phonological dyslexia may benefit from interventions that focus on phonemic awareness, while a child with surface dyslexia may benefit from interventions that focus on visual memory.


The good news: dyslexia is one of the most highly treatable learning disorders. Early intervention is key to success in children with this learning disorder. A study by Torgesen and colleagues found that when students are given interventions at the earliest possible age, they show greater achievement in reading than students who received later interventions. Not only this, but you can often prevent the development of reading disorders with proper intervention! Early intervention can also reduce the likelihood of dropout from school among children with learning disabilities.


At Chickadee Psychology, we use neuropsychological assessment tools to help determine whether a child has difficulty with phonemic awareness, decoding, or comprehension.


If you are concerned about your child's reading abilities, send me a message!


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