Dyslexia can be scary, especially if you’re uninformed and start noticing it suddenly. Here’s how you can self-diagnose, as well as some things to keep in mind.
Dyslexia symptoms can come out of nowhere, and it can be quite nerve-racking if you’re not informed about it, affecting both productivity levels and self-esteem. If you suspect you might be dyslexic, it’s important to realize you’re not alone and that learning disabilities such as these are manageable and not detrimental to your ability to lead a normal, fulfilling life.
Overview of Dyslexia
Before you can self-diagnose, you have to know what it is that you might be facing. Since we are dealing with a rather elusive disorder that comes as a spectrum of potential problems of varying degrees of severity, coming up with an all-encompassing definition is tougher than it looks.
For the sake of brevity and simplicity, we can say that dyslexia is a learning disorder that usually implies impaired reading skills, trouble decoding spoken and written language, and other difficulties related to language use.
While some of these issues might remind you of other disorders like autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), the International Dyslexia Association makes it clear that the co-occurrence of such disorders with dyslexia does not imply a causal connection between them.
Before we move to other symptoms, it is important to let you know that reading problems also do not entail impaired intelligence or a lack of motor skills and cognitive abilities. If you have, say, trouble learning foreign languages due to the inability to focus on new, unfamiliar alphabets, that does not in any way suggest a mental health defect of any sort.
Common signs of Dyslexia
Since dyslexia comes as a spectrum of potential reading and learning difficulties, its symptoms will naturally be manifold. Some are more obvious and more common, and some are rare, and there is no guarantee that any of them will be a sign of dyslexia per se and not some other underlying issue. However, there are plenty of, although not universal, then surely common symptoms you ought to keep an eye out for, including:
- Sound reversals — If you catch yourself switching syllables around or mispronouncing words more and more often, it might be a sign of dyslexia.
- Poor spelling — If you notice your spelling has gotten worse, it might also be a potential indicator that you are indeed suffering from dyslexia. Of course, the same goes if you have trouble reading and decoding written words (especially common words).
- Difficulty learning new languages — Learning foreign languages is tough, but if you notice your progress has stalled or regressed, and if you feel like you have lost the ability to memorize new words or find the right words in a foreign language, you might have dyslexia.
- Troubles with non-linguistic tasks that entail symbol use and decoding — If you catch yourself struggling with, say, math problems, there is a high chance that dyslexia is the culprit. However, it could also be a type of dyscalculia (i.e., the math version of dyslexia).
The 4 types of dyslexia
When we take all symptoms into account, we can come up with four general types of dyslexia:
- Phonological — This is the most common type of dyslexia. It is characterized by the inability to break down words and match symbols with their sounds.
- Surface dyslexia — This is a milder form of dyslexia. It entails the inability to recognize whole words at first glance, usually those more familiar ones.
- Rapid-naming dyslexia — This is a more specific type of dyslexia. Those suffering from rapid-naming dyslexia cannot name colors, shapes, and other well-known phenomena rapidly.
- Visual dyslexia — Dyslexia goes beyond words. If you’re having trouble memorizing something on a page, say, an image, you might have visual dyslexia.
Learning difficulties caused by Dyslexia
As you can imagine, most of the symptoms we’ve mentioned can be detrimental to your learning progress. We’ve already mentioned dyscalculia, but dyslexia brings about other learning difficulties. For example, trouble recognizing words might deal a blow to your self-esteem resulting in poor calligraphic skills. Further, students who rely on auditory input might find it harder to focus on what they are hearing if they are phonologically hindered. Less commonly, you might find it increasingly harder to tell apart not only words and images but also directions.
Health care providers to help dyslexia
Everyone can help those with dyslexia, as team effort is always the best of providing aid to those in need. However, healthcare providers, being in the position that allows them to do most, should go the extra mile to give those suffering from dyslexia the support they need. That means going beyond simple diagnostic assessments and providing everyone with free dyslexia tests, meeting groups, and seminars to spread dyslexia awareness.
Techniques to help reading difficulties related to dyslexia
Since symptoms are so varied, the techniques we use to cope with them will also be diverse. However, just like some symptoms are almost universal, some coping mechanisms can be universally applied and helpful, no matter whether the patient is a young child, a high school student, or an adult.
Take it easy
No, we’re not suggesting you ignore the problem. We are merely saying you should try to stay focused on one thing at a time and not rush things. Also, don’t compare yourself with others because that will kill your motivation fast and result in low self-esteem. Work your way through the material slowly and at the pace that works for you.
Try different reading methods
If something is not working, don’t force it. Instead, try coming up with a different approach and leave the traditional methods behind. There are no rules as to how you should read and engage with the text, so don’t be afraid to experiment, no matter what reading level you’re at.
Text to speech technology
Speaking of different approaches and thinking outside the box, we can’t help but mention text-to-speech technology. We’re talking about apps such as Amazon Polly, NaturalReader, and Speechify, that is, apps that will narrate your text for you.
Speechify, for example, is an app designed specifically for those with dyslexia, as the creative mind behind it suffered from this reading disability his entire life. Taking the needs of dyslexia patients of all ages and walks of life, the Speechify team makes sure that their app is flexible and able to accommodate everyone’s needs.
With Speechify, pretty much everything is an audiobook. You can import e-book files and turn them into audiobooks, or you can import books from Audible to play with and fine-tune. In addition, thanks to its fantastic OCR tech, Speechify can even read image scans and turn physical books into audiobooks. The best part? The app supports dozens of languages and has tons of customizable settings such as pitch, tone, reading speed, accents, and so on!
Want to check it out yourself and restore your reading ability? Try Speechify today.