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Why reading with Dyslexia is harder than you may think

Most people think that people with dyslexia have trouble reading because they see letters in the wrong places in words. (bead becomes daeb for example). It is not uncommon for learners with dyslexia report visual difficulties with text, including words moving around a page or letters switching What you may not know is that dyslexia is NOT primarily caused by a deficit in visual processing. The difficulty with reading with dyslexia is much more complicated than switching up letters. Research has shown that dyslexia is likely to be caused by deficits in phonological processing. Phonological processing refers to the way the brain processes sounds. Once the signals are received from the eardrum, the brain must translate sound from a vibration into neurological signals. The reading symptoms associated with dyslexia happen because the brain does not fully understand how words and sentences are broken up into component sounds.

Tasks like segmenting can be especially difficulty for young learners with dyslexia: “Cat is made up of the sounds /c/-/a/-/t/” and blending “/c/-/a/-/t/ put together says cat” These skills are necessary pre-requisites to reading a phonics-based, sound-symbol correspondence language like ours. This means that our language is based on the fact that every single sound can be written using letters that each represent their own sounds. To make things more complicated, each letter in our alphabet makes more than one sound. This gets even more muddled once we throw in consonant digraphs like “ph”, “ng”. Then consider vowels. Each vowel has a short sound as well as a long sound. When you start combining vowels with each other, the number of different sounds they could potentially make suddenly increases tremendously.

When you think about how complex our language is, and how amazing it is that anybody is able to read and spell individual words automatically, it is easier to see the frustrations that someone with dyslexia must experience when reading. Each word must be sounded out with effortful concentration. This affects the speed at which they are able to read, which affects how long they must hold words in their short term memory, which affects their ability to comprehend the material.

Reading is a very complex task. In what ways do you or your children struggle with reading?

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