Understanding Dyslexia Cognitive Disorder and Its Subtypes

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Subtypes of Dyslexia

A cognitive mental disorder is an interruption in a basic cognitive function, such as memory, processing, perception, problem solving, or language. Dyslexia has two common cognitive subtypes: auditory and visual. To work successfully with students with dyslexia you must first understand the two subtypes and recognize the difficulties your student is struggling with.

Auditory Processing Disorder

Auditory processing disorder is a catch-all term used to describe a variety of disorders that affect the way the brain processes auditory information. Symptoms of an auditory processing disorder can include:

  • Trouble paying attention to and remembering information given verbally
  • Problems carrying out multi-step verbal directions
  • Poor listening skills and needing people to speak slowly
  • Needing more time to process information
  • Difficulty paying attention when there is background noise
  • Behavioral problems
  • Difficulty perceiving differences in similar sounds (where/there)
  • Trouble hearing the spaces between words, which makes it sound like fewer words were spoken this makes it difficult to make sense of what has been said.

There are several strategies the student can utilize to combat these difficulties with your help. Students can be provided with a lecture outline so they can give full attention to listening. Verbal directions can be given one step at a time. When speaking to a student with auditory processing disorder, speak slowly and give ample time to process information before requiring a response.

It is helpful to give the student a ‘heads up’ the day before they will be called on in class. Let the student know what specific information they will be asked to respond to. It is a good habit to have the student repeat back what has been said in their own words. This is helpful to many students and shouldn’t be done in a way that singles anyone out or makes them feel ridiculed.

Visual Processing Disorder

Visual processing disorder is not related to the ability to see clearly. It involves difficulties processing visual information. Visual processing disorder revolves around problems with spatial relationships, visual discrimination, visual memory and visual tracking.

Spatial relationships refer to the ability to perceive the location of objects in relation to other objects. This is a necessary skill in reading, handwriting, and math. In each of those areas you must be able to recognize different symbols, know which direction they’re going, tell the difference between similar shapes and determine where the shapes are in relation to each other.

To assist students with spatial relationships keep a wall chart as well as a personal chart in their binder with math symbols to help aid memory. Have them pay careful attention to spacing in writing assignments. When writing out math problems, have students turn a lined piece of notebook paper horizontally. Use each line as a divider between numbers.This will help significantly with keeping numerals and symbols evenly spaced and correctly aligned.

Students who have trouble with visual discrimination will mix up similar numbers and letters. They will have trouble reading for information and scanning pictures for information.

Visual memory allows us to recognize objects and to remember letters, numbers, symbols, words and pictures. A student with poor visual memory will benefit from visual cues around the classroom and in his own personal binder.

Visual tracking is the ability to keep a stable image when the head or eyes are in motion. They will have trouble with computer programs, watching videos, and copying work from the board. If work must be copied from the board, check it before it goes home to ensure the student is not missing valuable information. Students can be given an outline of information that will be covered on the video. This will allow your student to pay attention to the video and to learn how to identify important information.

By implementing some of these strategies you can help your students with dyslexia successfully face some of the challenges they deal with.