Serving the North Shore Area

Dyslexia is often thought to be reversing letters; however, while many children who have dyslexia may reverse letters, the disorder is actually a disorder of language, specifically phonological processing – that part of language that involves sounds and the perception of sounds.  The area of language that is implicated is phonology – the area of language that involves sounds and the perception of sounds.  The latest definition of dyslexia was developed in 2002 by a working group of the International Dyslexia Association, under the direction of G. Reid Lyon, Ph.D.


According to this group, “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.” This definition can be found in the book entitled Overcoming Dyslexia: A New and Complete Science-Based Program for Reading Problems at Any Level written by Sally Shaywitz (2003). 


Thus, dyslexia is not visual in nature, it is due to a failure to understand the sound structure of language – to know that the difference between the words car and bar lies within the first speech segments, /c/ and /b/.  These speech segments are referred to as phonemes – the smallest unit of language that has meaning.  If we change the /c/ in car to /b/ in bar, we have different meanings, i. e, different words.  Dyslexia is the most common disorder of reading and is also very poorly understood, even by many professionals.  Thus, if it is poorly understood, it is poorly assessed.  The book entitled Parenting a Struggling Reader: A Guide to Diagnosing and Finding Help for Your Child’s Reading Difficulties written by Susan L. Hall and Louisa C. Moats is an excellent resource if you suspect your child may have dyslexia.  The book should be read prior to selecting a professional to diagnose your child.  It has many questions that a parent should ask when seeking a professional who is well versed in the many varying aspects of the disorder.  As stated previously, many professionals are unclear as to what the disorder actually “looks” like. 


Areas of functioning addressed:

  • Developmental, health and social history
  • Academic skills in reading, written language and math fluency (the rapid and accurate recall of math facts from long-term memory)


Typical tests and other assessment procedures:

  • Structured parent interview/social history
  • Structured teacher interview/questionnaire
  • Structured student interview/questionnaire
  • Standardized, individually administered tests of academic achievement in reading, including oral reading, written language, including spelling, and math fluency, the rapid and accurate recall of math facts from long-term memory
  • Standardized individually administered tests of auditory processing, including phonological segmentation and blending, auditory short-term memory, working memory, and listening comprehension
  • Informal measures of phonics (e.g., decoding of one-syllable words, multiple-syllable words, vowel teams, r-controlled vowels, diphthongs, and “sight words”)