13 Characteristics of Dyslexia


What is Dyslexia?

Dylsexia is a language disability. This condition, which is remedial, makes it difficult for a person to read, write, spell, compute, organize and comprehend, despite adequate intelligence and conventional instruction.


* 15% to 20% of the population experiences some degree of Dyslexia.


Dyslexia (definition by the International Dyslexia Association):

“Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.”


13 Characteristics of Dyslexia


What to look for in those with Dyslexia:

Some or all of the following 13 characteristics of Dyslexia will be present in an individual:

  1. Difficulty in learning to read, write, spell, and do arithmetic
  2. Difficulty in following oral and written instructions.
  3. Cramped or illegible handwriting
  4. Difficulty in staying on task
  5. Easily distracted
  6. Confusion in sequence of letters and symbols: e.g. B and d, quite and quiet, was and saw, 18 and 81
  7. Delayed spoken language
  8. Confusion about directions in space, time, right and left, up and down, north and south, yesterday and tomorrow
  9. High level of frustration
  10. Difficulty in retaining information
  11. More than average test-taking anxiety
  12. Increased or reduced energy level
  13. Immaturity


What to do:

  1. See your pediatrician or internist, and ophthalmologist to eliminate any physical explanation.
  2. A psychological evaluation should be performed by a qualified professional who accepts the concept of dyslexia
  3. A program of remedial instruction, such as the Orton Gillingham Approach, should be implemented based on the following concepts:
    1. A simultaneous, direct, multisensory approach that uses visual, auditory, and kinesthetic/tactile methods
    2. A high level of structure in everything
    3. A phonetically based program of reading and spelling which teaches the complete sound structure of the language
    4. A great deal of repetition and drill in both individual and group instruction


Factors to be Excluded in the Diagnosis of Dyslexia

  1. Developmental Delay

(Determined by psychological testing administered individually by a certified clinical or educational psychologist)

  1. Physical disability
    1. Uncorrected visual impairment
    2. Uncorrected hearing impairment
    3. Debilitating illness
  1. Socio-cultural deprivation
    1. Lack of opportunity
    2. Children speaking primarily another language at home until school entrance
  1. Primary emotional disturbance (as opposed to secondary emotional problems resulting from school failure)


Terms Sometimes Associated with Dyslexia:

  • Acquired Dyslexia or Alexia: refers to impairment of reading and related language skills due to some type of brain damage experienced by those who have difficulty learning to read and write normally
  • Aphasia: impairment or loss of the ability to use or understand spoken language due to brain damage
  • Attention Deficit Disorder: (add) 3 types
    • Inattentive
    • Hyperactive and impulsive
    • Combined
  • Dyscalculia: difficulty in learning to calculate or to remember easily and to work accurately with number facts
  • Dysgraphia: difficulty in learning the physical act of writing
  • Dysorthography: difficulty learning to spell


Other Problems Sometimes Associated with Dyslexia:

  • Speech Problems
  • Spatial Disorientation (up-down, right-left, over-under, back-front, east-west)
  • Difficulty with Sequencing Verbal Material (days of the week, months of the year, alphabet, counting, etc.)
  • Difficulty Telling Time and Judging Time Intervals
  • Poor Personal Organizational Abilities
  • Mixed Laterality (hand, eye, foot patterns of dominance)


Understanding the 13 characteristics of Dyslexia & how it manifests in the learning venue, what Dyslexia is NOT, and what action steps to take if Dyslexia is suspected are all important to the diagnostic and prescriptive piece in the remedial process. Providing the scaffolding students with Dyslexia need to find optimal success is best teaching practices. The Orton Gillingham Approach not only provides this support, but it is the seminal approach that is evidenced-based to unlock the door to language acquisition for the population with Dyslexia.


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