Dyslexia refers to a reading disorder in which reading is difficult despite normal intelligence. Children and adults who struggle with dyslexia can experience problems spelling and writing words, “sounding out” words, reading quickly, reading aloud, and/or understanding what’s been read.

Dyslexia is considered a cognitive disorder, and is often linked with cognitive weakness, particularly in the area of auditory processing.

Auditory processing has been described as “what the brain does with what the ears hear.” Weak auditory processing skills hinder the brain’s ability to recognize the difference between sounds, blend sounds, and link sounds to letters, making learning to read—and reading—more difficult.

Scientists are still researching dyslexia to better understand the diagnosis. In one study, neuroscience student Emily Finn and her colleagues at the Yale University School of Medicine conducted a whole-brain functional connectivity analysis of dyslexia using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Scans of children and adults with dyslexia were compared to typical readers in the same age groups and the results, as reported in Biological Psychiatry, showed that there were widespread differences. Dyslexic readers showed decreased connectivity within their visual pathways, as well as between visual and prefrontal regions. Dyslexia readers also showed reduced connectivity in the visual word-form area.

Someone diagnosed with dyslexia may benefit from intensive one-on-one attention. Some families turn to brain training to identify, target, and train cognitive weaknesses commonly associated with dyslexia.

If you have a child who is struggling with reading, there are some things you can do help your child improve skills that are critical to reading success. For example, to work on phonemic awareness and auditory processing skills, try these exercises:

  • Sound segmenting games: Say a two-sound word, like bee, and have the child tell you which sounds are in the word. Then start to increase to three-sound words, like cat. This builds auditory segmenting which is necessary for spelling when children get older.
  • Phonetics using building blocks: Help develop analytical skills by using blocks to make up nonsense words starting with two to three blocks. Create a nonsense word, then have the child remove one block and add a new one while verbally trying to figure out what the new word sounds like.

It is also important to have your child cognitively assessed. A cognitive test is the best way to identify weak skills that may be affecting a child’s ability to process sounds and/or read. LearningRx Brain Training Centers offer comprehensive cognitive testing at a reasonable price. Click here to locate a LearningRx Center near you.