What Is Dyslexia in Children? - Symptoms, Definition & Treatment

Instructor: Yolanda Williams

Yolanda has taught college Psychology and Ethics, and has a doctorate of philosophy in counselor education and supervision.

Dyslexia is a learning disorder that affects between five and 17 percent of children in the United States. Learn about dyslexia, its symptoms, how it is treated, and more.

Identifying Dyslexia

Suppose that you are a second grade teacher. You notice that one of your students has trouble reciting the sounds of the alphabet. You review his written assignments and see that the way he spells words is inconsistent and that he has trouble copying down words. You grow concerned with his reading and writing abilities and refer him for an assessment. Your student's reading and writing difficulties are symptoms of dyslexia.

What Is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a learning disorder that is based in the brain. It is estimated that 5-17% of children are dyslexic. Dyslexia affects the way that the human brain processes and interprets information. Dyslexia interferes with the ability to read and spell words. Children with dyslexia experience problems in the following areas:

  • Phonological awareness, which is the ability to understand speech sounds and how they can change the meaning of words
    • i.e., understanding that if you change the m in 'map' to a c, the word becomes 'cap'
  • Verbal memory, which is the ability to recall verbal information for a brief amount of time
    • i.e., recalling a list of three items that someone asked you to pick up from the store without writing them down
  • Verbal processing speed, or how quickly you can process and recognize verbal information that is familiar
    • i.e., how fast you can write down a telephone number when it is given to you verbally

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