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Why does dyslexia make reading difficult?

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Cliff Weitzman
By Cliff Weitzman Dyslexia & Accessibility Advocate, CEO/Founder of Speechify in Bibliophiles on June 27, 2022
Dyslexia brings a plethora of challenges, not least of which are impaired reading skills and trouble following reading instructions. Here are all the details.

    Dyslexia is a complex condition that has been and still is confusing people due to its very nature of being a neurobiological condition, meaning that its roots are found in some areas of the brain and are not associated with any social or economic factor. That also means that each patient is different in some way.

    One of the most widely cited definitions of Dyslexia was given in the book Overcoming Dyslexia (2020) by S. Shaywitz from Yale University, who calls it a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. What it entails are issues with accurate and/or fluent word recognition, as well as poor spelling and language decoding abilities.

    Or, in far simpler terms: a person suffering from Dyslexia has a hard time connecting images, sounds, and concepts, resulting in struggles with translating ideas into words, letters, and numbers.

    However, this reading disability is by no means connected to lower intelligence, as many dyslexic people are exceptionally smart and successful.

    Common signs of dyslexia

    Unfortunately, due to its complexity, signs of Developmental Dyslexia can be hard to spot and accurately identify, especially when talking about dyslexic children. That has led to parents and/or teachers often failing to notice and identify problems on time or at all, which can lead to further problems in one’s development.

    One of the first signs parents might potentially notice is that child is late to start talking and slow to learn new words, symbols (letters and numbers), and names of objects/people, as well as struggling to learn rhymes.

    Over time it may lead to a dyslexic person developing multiple mental health issues that would make it seem as if they are suffering from autism or maybe developmental behavior problems similar to that of a person suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). These are especially prominent during high school, where most people develop said behaviors. Luckily, with suitable early intervention and special education, most of these can be mitigated.

    These issues have been known to accumulate, resulting in low self-esteem and, in some cases, depression.

    How does dyslexia affect reading ability?

    Dyslexia causes a weak phonemic awareness making it fairly difficult for a dyslexic person to recognize and sound the words they are trying to read and/or pronounce. That can be really difficult if they are hearing or reading a word for the first time, especially in a foreign language.

    Special education and classroom remediation can be a great way to help students keep up with reading and cope with their speech-related issues.

    Health care providers to help dyslexia

    One of the first questions many people ask when they or someone close to them is diagnosed with Dyslexia is, “Can it be cured?” The answer is, unfortunately, no — reading problems caused by Dyslexia are for life. Dyslexia is still a very elusive condition that cannot be cured, but its signs/consequences can be treated with a high level of success.

    The most common thing health care providers should pay attention to when it comes to a dyslexic person is their mental health, especially during their teenage years when most problems may occur due to them struggling with things other students can do easily.

    Of course, since Dyslexia is so common, we expect everyone to give their loved ones a hand if they’re suffering from this learning disorder. You can suggest screening tests and accommodate them by introducing some changes to their living environment, or you can advise them to seek professional help if you notice they are showing some symptoms of Dyslexia.

    There are a lot of dyslexia tests online, but you can also provide others with self-assessment kits such as Wechsler Individual Achievement Tests, Towre-2, or the Gray Oral Reading Test (Gort-5,). You can order those online, and they come with grading instructions.

    Techniques to help reading difficulties related to dyslexia

    Be proactive

    If you notice your reading comprehension has started to suffer, you’ll have to start working on some adjustments to your reading methods. If printed text is no longer a feasible option, don’t try to force yourself to rely on them. You can try using e-readers and experimenting with fonts and page orientation, but you can also give audiobooks and listening material a go. Podcasts are a great way to learn new things if you have trouble reading.

    Use non-verbal memorization techniques

    In addition to relying on audio material, you can use color cues to label and differentiate between written words. Modern writing tools and writing assistants let you choose font color, highlight text, and even turn text into images. The brain processes color differently, so your reading fluency and language skills might improve drastically if you sparkle some color in your text.

    Text to speech technology

    Finally, we would like to take a moment to recommend text-to-speech (TTS) apps as the most revolutionary solution for managing Dyslexia, dysgraphia, and other reading impairments. More specifically, we’d like to recommend Speechify, the #1 TTS tool developed specifically for dyslexic users.

    What makes Speechify the perfect solution is its intuitive and flexible design that will let you turn anything into an audiobook. You can even use it to scan physical copies of your books and have them narrated to you. That is fantastic for dyslexic language learners trying to practice phonological processing and phonics.

    Speechify can be used both individually and in school settings. It features dozens of languages, and its lifelike AI voices will help you and your students work not just on their phonological awareness but listening skills in general, thanks to its customizable speech rates and settings such as emphasis and tempo.

    Try Speechify today for free.


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    Cliff Weitzman

    Cliff Weitzman

    Cliff Weitzman is a dyslexia advocate and the CEO and founder of Speechify, the #1 text-to-speech app in the world, totaling over 100,000 5-star reviews and ranking first place in the App Store for the News & Magazines category. In 2017, Weitzman was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list for his work making the internet more accessible to people with learning disabilities. Cliff Weitzman has been featured in EdSurge, Inc., PC Mag, Entrepreneur, Mashable, among other leading outlets.

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