What is dyslexia?


 “Language-based learning disabilities are problems with age-appropriate reading, spelling, and/or writing. This disorder is not about how smart a person is. Most people diagnosed with learning disabilities have average to superior intelligence.”

American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA)

Since the 1990s new research in the field of reading disabilities defined dyslexia to be a language- based learning disability based in the phonological processing system.  Prior to 1990, dyslexia was thought to be a visual problem characterized by reversals.  Although there are proven visual processing aspects to dyslexia, research has shown that difficulties with phonological processing are at the basis of dyslexia.  Dyslexia is due to deficits in the phonological processing system. Phonological processing is an auditory processing skill.

“Dyslexia has been used to refer to the specific learning problem of reading. The term language-based learning disability, or just learning disabilities, is better because of the relationship between spoken and written language. Many children with reading problems have spoken language problems.”

            American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA)


Phonological processing is the broad term that encompasses a range of skills involved in perceiving, manipulating and recalling the speech sound system of a language.  Phonological processing includes rhyming, word counting, syllable counting, syllable blending and syllable deletion .

Phonological processing is a broader concept than phoneme awareness.  Phonemic awareness is the ability to attend to the phonemes (speech sounds) in words by identifying, segmenting, locating and sequencing phonemes. Phonemic awareness includes phoneme discrimination, isolation phonemes in words (beginning, medial and final sounds), sound blending, word segmenting and sound deletion.

As dyslexia is a language-based learning problem, resulting in difficulties with thXe reading and writing.  Dyslexia is often a part of a larger language learning impairment.


Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological 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 the growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.

International Dyslexia Association, November 12, 2002