(Developmental Reading Disorder)

prepared by Sally Waltho

What is Dyslexia (DRD)?
The essential feature of this disorder is reading achievement (i.e. reading accuracy, speed, or comprehension) that falls substantially below an individual’s cognitive ability. The disturbance in reading significantly interferes with academic achievement and everyday life. In individuals with Dyslexia (DRD), oral reading is characterised by distortions, reversals, substitutions, or omissions; both oral and silent reading are characterised by slowness and error in comprehension. Dyslexia, however, usually includes deficits in spelling and writing as well as reading.

What is it like to live with Dyslexia (DRD)?
It is difficult to assess the effects of dyslexia on an individual without considering its emotional and social effects. It is not only the specific cognitive inefficiencies that make dyslexia a serious problem, but it is also the adverse reactions and feedback these individuals receive from their social surroundings because of their specific learning difficulties.

Individuals with this difficulty are perceived as being at risk of failure not only academically but also socially and emotionally. Frustration with regard to failure on a range of activities can result in feelings of insecurity and a lack of confidence. The disorder, along with the emotions associated with it, can have a profound effect on an individual’s social surroundings. Anger, self blaming tendencies, strategies of avoidance, and anti-social behaviour may result from these tensions. In addition, individuals with this disorder are vulnerable to negative reactions from parents, teachers and peers, and may show feelings of shame of failure, anxiety, hopelessness and helplessness. These feelings in some cases can turn into patterns of rebellion such as oppositional or defiant behaviour.

What Causes Dyslexia (DRD)?
Developmental reading disorder, also called dyslexia, is a reading disability that occurs when the brain does not properly recognize and process certain symbols. It is thought that genetics may play a role in this neurological dysfunction.

Developmental reading disorder (DRD), or dyslexia, occurs when there is a problem in areas of the brain that help interpret language. It is not caused by vision problems. The disorder is a specific information processing problem that does not interfere with one’s ability to think or to understand complex ideas. Most people with DRD have normal intelligence, and many have above-average intelligence.

DRD may appear in combination with developmental writing disorder and developmental arithmetic disorder. All of these involve using symbols to convey information. These conditions may appear alone or in any combination.

How can Dyslexia (DRD) be assessed?

1. The DSM-IV states that a reading disorder is present if an individual’s reading achievement falls substantially below their cognitive ability. Therefore one is able to assess this characteristic by measuring and comparing the individual’s cognitive ability and reading ability. This may be done by using the following two tests:

WISC-IV/WAIS-III: Individually administered intelligence test used to find overall cognitive ability including verbal and non-verbal reasoning skills.

WIAT-II Reading Composite: This composite of the WIAT-II assesses different aspects of reading. It assesses:

  • Letter-Sound ID
  • Sight Word Accuracy
  • Sight Word Automaticity
  •  Word Attack Skills (decoding)
  • Reading Speed
  • Sentence Comprehension
  • Passage Comprehension
  • Word Accuracy in context

By gathering details on performance in the above two tests and comparing them, one is able to see if there is a significant difference between the individual’s cognitive ability and reading achievement score. If this is found to be the case, a diagnosis can be made.

2. There is also an individually administered test that focuses directly on the symptoms theoretically associated with DRD. This test is known as The Dyslexia Screening Test (DST).  This test covers a range of skills known to be affected in DRD, and the profile of difficulties can be used both to interpret the causes of attainment and as an index of which skills need support. The different aspects associated with DRD as measured by the DST are as follows:

  • Rapid Naming
  • Bead threading (motor skills)
  • Postural Stability
  • Phonemic Segmentation
  • Backward Digit Span (Working Memory)
  • Nonsense Passage Reading (Reading words with which individuals are not familiar)
  • Verbal and Semantic Fluency
  • Vocabulary

These avenues of testing are all available at the Claremont Practice. For more details please do not hesitate to contact us.

Is Dyslexia Curable?
While dyslexia is not a curable disorder, it is treatable by using educational tools. Every person with DRD requires a different strategy. An individual education plan should be created for each child with the condition (such plans may include extra writing time).

The following may be recommended:

  • Extra learning assistance, called remedial instruction
  • Private, individual tutoring
  • Special day classes

Positive reinforcement is important as many students with learning disabilities suffer with a poor self-esteem.

Different useful and fun games that parents can play with dyslexic children can be found on the following link: http://www.dyslexia-parent.com/hints.html

American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Revised 4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
Developmental Reading Disorder (2012). Retrieved September 14, 2012.
Fawcett, J. & Nicolson, R. (2004). The Dyslexia Screening Test- Secondary (DST-S). United Kingdom, London: Pearson Assessment
Palti, G. (2007). Social and Emotional aspects of DyslexiaRetrieved September 14, 2012.