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What is Dyslexia? 

Dyslexia is a learning disorder that affects a child’s ability to read, spell, and write. People with dyslexia are smart and hardworking, but have trouble associating the letters they see with the corresponding sound. A student with dyslexia has difficulty connecting the sounds in a word with the letters. While there are varying degrees of this language- based learning disability, a person with dyslexia typically has difficulties with all aspects of reading.


What does a diagnosis of Dyslexia

mean for my child?  

Dyslexia is not a reflection of intelligence nor does it correlate with socio-economic backgrounds. 

While it is not the sole cause, research has identified genetics as a common determining factor. Environmental influences have also come into play, but more definitive studies are needed. 

Regardless of the cause, brain imaging studies have revealed that the brain of a dyslexic is wired differently. It is important to note we are not born with the ability to read. Our brains do not start out wired for reading but is a skill we must master. To learn to read, we must use parts of the brain that originally evolved to do other things. People with dyslexia have trouble with this due to the differences in how their brains are wired.  

Reading requires coordination among three distinct parts of the brain to: 

  • sound out unfamiliar words 

  • recognize familiar words by sight 

  • determine pronunciation 



Information must rapidly move between these three different areas of the brain to read, no matter which language is being read.

Imaging studies have revealed a difference in how a brain of a person with dyslexia tackles reading tasks compared to a person who does not have dyslexia. The same three areas are required to read in a child with dyslexia, but two of those areas are less active in the brain of the dyslexic. The differences in these areas are found in the brains of people with dyslexia all around the world. Systematic, explicit, and multi-sensory instruction can help. Effective interventions teach the relationship between the sounds and letters in a structured way. Students are taught to recognize words that they have seen before which increases both fluency and comprehension. 

Depending on the severity, people with dyslexia may have experienced or continue to experience some or many of the following difficulties:


  • Learning letters and the sounds  

  • Organizing written and spoken language  

  • Reading quickly enough to comprehend  

  • Persisting with and comprehending longer reading assignments  

  • Spelling  

  • Learning a foreign language  

  • Mastering math operations  

  • Memorizing number facts 

A child with dyslexia is NOT:  

  • lazy  

  • dumb  

  • unmotivated  

  • stupid  

A child with dyslexia is:  

  • capable of learning  

  • creative  

  • motivated  

  • frustrated and in need of support

Why the FAR Assessment?


You may hear people talk about types of dyslexia. But what they are really talking about are the different ways people with dyslexia can struggle with reading. For example, some have trouble sounding out (decoding) words. Others have a challenging time recognizing words by sight. Most struggle in more than one area. There are no official types of dyslexia. But experts have been looking into possible “subtypes.”


The goal of this research is to better understand the origin of different reading challenges, and eventually find better ways to treat them. Experts think genetics plays a role. Different reading challenges may be linked to specific combinations of genes. A child’s learning experiences also affect how the brains gets organized for reading. These factors help explain why no two people with dyslexia are exactly alike. Research into subtypes of dyslexia does not mean a person has one “kind” of dyslexia or another. It’s not like being either a type 1 or type 2 diabetic.


Dyslexia subtypes are more like pieces in a puzzle. Together, they form a unique profile of what someone’s reading challenges are. These kinds of details can help schools and families find the right support to suit each student’s needs. Experts have different ideas about how dyslexia should be broken down into subtypes. More research needs to be done in this area.

Here are some of the more widely mentioned “types” of dyslexia you might hear about. ​

Phonological dyslexia:

  • This is often what people are thinking of when they talk generally about dyslexia. It’s trouble breaking down the sounds of language and matching those sounds with written symbols.

  • Challenges with phonological processing make it hard to sound out or “decode” words.

  • Experts think phonological dyslexia is the most common subtype. (It’s sometimes referred to as dysphonetic dyslexia.)

  • Most people with dyslexia struggle to some degree with the sounds in words. 

Surface dyslexia:

  • It may take them longer to get to the point where they can recognize a certain word instantly without needing to sound it out. This is probably because the brain finds it hard to remember what the word looks like.

  • People with surface dyslexia may have particular trouble with words that don’t sound the way they’re spelled, like weight or debt, and have to be memorized.

  • Surface dyslexia is also called visual dyslexia or dyseidetic dyslexia.

  • Many people have both surface and phonological dyslexia. That may be because trouble with decoding can get in the way of mastering sight words.

  • Struggling readers might not encounter a word often enough to begin to recognize it at a glance. 

Rapid naming deficit:

  • Many people with dyslexia have trouble rapidly naming things like letters, numbers, and colors when they see them.

  • They can say the names, but it takes them longer to name many of them in a row.

  • Experts think this problem is related to trouble with processing speed.

  • Experts also think it’s linked to reading speed.  

Double deficit dyslexia:


  • A double deficit means a person with dyslexia is struggling with two aspects of reading.

  • It’s often used to describe people who have trouble identifying the sounds in words and who have trouble with naming speed.

  • Many experts believe phonological dyslexia and rapid naming deficit are separate challenges, but that they can happen together.

  • Having both of these challenges at the same time tends to add up to a more severe form of dyslexia.

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