Nicholas M. Cutro, Psy.S.
Developmental Dyslexia in Children and Adults
Dyslexia is a reading disorder that likely affects roughly 7% of the population, although some propose that it may affect up to 20% of the population. Dyslexia is a word level reading disorder. This means that it affects an individual's ability to decode words for reading and encode words for spelling. As a consequence this weakness often impairs reading fluency and written expression. It is estimated that roughly 80% of individuals with dyslexia have a phonological deficit. This often manifests in an early delay with phonological awareness skills (e.g., rhyming, blending sounds, segmenting sounds, phoneme manipulation). Dyslexia is not linked with lower intelligence, so it is not "caused" by lower intellectual functioning. However, dyslexia co-occurs with ADHD, language impairments, math disorders, and internalizing problems more often than the non-affected general population. Some individuals are able to mask their weakness as a result of some great protective factors, but these individuals often explain how hard they had to work to keep up with reading and spelling. Some individuals do not realize they have dyslexia until much later in life, but more often than not, the disorder becomes noticeable in the elementary school years. Identification of dyslexia is the first step. The remediation of dyslexia requires explicit and systematic phonics and comprehensive reading instruction, at the appropriate level of intensity. In future blog posts, I will discuss other possible causes of dyslexia as well as information about the common co-morbidities, such as ADHD.