Condition: Dyslexia

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  Signs and Symptoms                   Evaluation                       Suggested Goals and Materials                    Therapy   


Let’s start with a definition from the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) Board of Directors:

“Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological 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 growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.”

Adopted by the IDA Board of Directors, Nov. 12, 2002. Many state education codes, including New Jersey, Ohio and Utah, have adopted this definition. Learn more about how consensus was reached on this definition: Definition Consensus Project

Definition of Dyslexia


Breaking Down that Definition:

  • Neurobiological – Stems from the brain
  • Primary Problems – Word recognition, spelling, decoding
  • Stems from – Phonological difficulties
  • Not from – Low cognition or lack of education
  • May lead to – Limited reading comprehension and slow vocabulary development

Signs and Symptoms of Dyslexia:

From the International Dyslexia Association:

  • The key symptoms of dyslexia are problems with decoding or single word reading and/or poor reading fluency and poor spelling
  • Phonological weaknesses or disorders, specific language-based difficulties, are usually the underlying cause
  • Comprehension may be impaired and writing skills will suffer if spelling is not mastered
  • Language and vocabulary problems can cause comprehension difficulties that can become more severe over time as academic demands increase
  • Poor readers may have weak vocabulary and background knowledge caused by reading less than average readers
  • The problems associated with dyslexia are language-based, not visual and not related to cognitive skills or intelligence
  • Phonological processing problems are the principal cause of dyslexia


Dyslexia can be diagnosed by a speech-language pathologist with special training/experience in dyslexia diagnosis.  This assessment can also be conducted by certain other professionals such as special educators, reading specialists, or psychologists.  Often a team approach is used to assessing the whole child.  The speech-language pathologist will be responsible for evaluating all speech and language skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) to determine what strengths the child has and where the problems lie.  This information can also be compared to results from educational, cognitive, and other testing to determine the proper diagnosis.

ASHA’s Recommendations for a comprehensive assessment of reading and writing: 

Assessment Tools:

Additional Resources on Dyslexia Assessment:

Suggested Goals and Materials:

Your comprehensive assessment will guide decisions about what to focus on in therapy. Focus on what the assessments are telling you and try not to get too wrapped up on the specific diagnosis (dyslexia/dysgraphia/SLI/etc).  Here are some goals you may need to target with a child with dyslexia


Here are some more resources and information that may help you when it comes to treating this condition.

Supplemental Resources:

Here are some additional resources that may help you when treating this condition

Short Videos:

5-15 minute videos that answer a question or go into one specific aspect of this topic

Webinar Recordings:

Hour-long webinar recordings that dive deep into a particular subject

Related Topics:

These other related topics may give you more resources and information to treat your client:

Resources, Tools, and Training for Speech-Language Professionals

*** The SLP Solution is for informational and educational purposes only and does not provide medical or psychological advice.  We provide general resources but cannot tell you exactly what should be done for a specific client.  Every client is different and your clinical judgement should be used when making decisions about specific individuals.


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