Types of reading disabilities

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Are you or someone close to your experiencing difficulty reading? See our lists of types of reading disabilities to explore the possible causes.

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Reading disabilities are a category of learning disabilities that can significantly impact a person’s quality of life. They usually call for special education and learning aids that help struggling readers progress academically.

Later in life, reading disabilities can make it harder to pursue various careers, so effective management techniques are essential in minimizing the effects of these disorders.

This article will shed some light on different types of reading disabilities and introduce a useful method for managing them.

What is a reading disability?

Reading difficulties affect a person’s language comprehension, phonemic awareness, and orthographic ability. They’re usually not limited strictly to someone’s reading ability, as they can also affect sound formation and speech.

Besides being poor readers, people with reading disorders can find it hard to recall familiar words or understand their meaning. Spelling can also be a struggle.

It’s worth mentioning that not everyone has the same symptoms. They depend on the specific learning disabilities and their cause. Learning difficulties are often genetic but can also result from injuries or diseases.

“Reading disability” is an umbrella term, and there are several types you should understand. Let’s discuss them in more detail.

The different types of reading disability


Dyslexia is among the most well-known and widespread learning disorders. It affects a person’s ability to identify speech sounds and their relations to words or letters (decoding). Because of a high phonological deficit, dyslexic people have a decreased reading fluency and processing speed.

Dyslexia impacts children and adults, though the first signs are usually present at an early age. Often, a teacher will notice a child’s reading is below the desired levels or that traditional phonics aren’t the best results.

Symptoms of dyslexia change throughout the person’s life and include:

  • Difficulty reading
  • Mispronouncing words
  • Difficulty spelling
  • Issues with retrieving words
  • Labor-intensive writing and reading
  • Trouble learning sight words

Currently, there’s no treatment for dyslexia. However, dyslexic people can cope with the symptoms and perform everyday tasks more effectively with proper techniques.


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurological condition that affects a person’s behavior and ability to control it. Those affected by the condition are usually impulsive and restless, and they often have trouble focusing on specific tasks.

Most cases of ADHD are recognized and diagnosed in children between 3 and 7, although it’s possible to be diagnosed in adulthood if ADHD isn’t caught earlier.

The most common ADHD symptoms include:

  • Impulsiveness
  • Forgetfulness
  • Constant task switching
  • Recurring or constant fidgeting
  • Excessive talking or physical movement

When it comes to reading problems, the main concern is comprehension deficit caused mainly by a lack of focus or forgetfulness. While word recognition isn’t often an issue, people with ADHD have trouble remembering and recalling what they read during further reading.


Hyperlexia borders between being a disorder and splinter skill. It’s a condition that makes children read beyond the expected ability or develop obsessive interests in numbers or letters.

The main reason hyperlexia is categorized as a disorder is its close connection to the autism spectrum. In most cases, hyperlexic children or adults exhibit symptoms similar to autism, including:

  • Sensory sensitivity
  • Fears and phobias
  • Strong resistance to change
  • Pronoun reversals

Hyperlexia doesn’t always fall on the autism spectrum and can be a standalone condition. With some types, symptoms go away with age, as other kids reach the hyperlexic child’s reading levels. In other cases, traits like remarkable memory or obsession with letters stay present throughout the person’s life.

Speech and language disorders

This is a group of disorders that affect a person’s reading, understanding, and speaking abilities. People affected by them usually have lower phonological awareness or auditory issues that affect reading comprehension.

Speech and language disorders often accompany other reading disabilities like dyslexia. On top of the usual reading issues, one may also experience speech problems like stuttering.

Visual impairment

Varying degrees of visual impairment can make reading difficult to impossible. Many conditions and circumstances can cause long-term deficiencies that require accommodations.

Depending on the cause, some visual impairments can be improved or managed to ensure adequate reading. In some cases, however, the disability is permanent and severe enough to prevent traditional reading altogether.

Visually impaired learners often rely on different tools like braille displays and screens. Another popular assistive technology is text to speech (TTS), which helps with phonological processing.

Introducing Speechify – the text to speech reader that helps with reading disabilities

TTS is an essential technology for those dealing with reading disabilities. If you’re looking for a capable platform, Speechify is an excellent choice. This TTS reader turns nearly any digital or printed text into high-quality audio you can listen to in over 30 natural-sounding voices.

Plus, Speechify supports more than 20 languages, making it an excellent option for learning a new language. Foreign languages are particularly challenging for those affected by reading disorders, so Speechify can help remove many obstacles to learning.

You can use it to study, work, or turn books into audiobooks you can enjoy without reading constraints. Speechify is available on many platforms, including iOS, Android, and macOS. For web browsing, you can use Safari or Google Chrome extension. Thanks to Speechify’s versatility, you can have a great alternative to reading wherever you are.

If you want to learn more about Speechify and how it works, you can try it for free.


What is the most common reading disability?

The most common reading disability is dyslexia. According to some estimates, between 14.5 and 43.5 million people are affected by it.

What are the symptoms of a reading disability?

The exact symptoms depend on the actual disability. The most common ones include an inability to recognize letters or words and trouble understanding any type of writing.

Who can diagnose a reading disability?

Dyslexia is most commonly diagnosed by neurologists or learning disability specialists.

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