Dyslexia…a deeper look..Updates!!

We are required to continue learning to provide the best services to clients…even if you present courses!! As many of you know, I continue to see patients in my clinic in addition to the teaching I do. I had a recent influx of patients with reading issues in my clinic that could not access the few dyslexia resources in our area…so I dug deeper on dyslexia. Heres what I learned…


I highly recommend the book Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz. This book discusses the research about dyslexia and does an excellent job of explaining the specific reading problem of dyslexia.

Why all the confusion over dyslexia??

There are differing definitions of dyslexia. The DSM5 does not speak of dyslexia but instead uses “Specific Learning Disorder Affecting Reading”. This definition captures issues of phonetics, vision and auditory processing that might affect the ability to read. Meanwhile, the International Dyslexia Association says that dyslexia is a language processing problem and is concerned with the implication of the DSM5 criteria.

This disagreement means the reading specialist and the clinical or neuro-psychologist may not agree if a child has dyslexia. This has huge implications in the classroom and the doctors office.

Meanwhile, my kids are having problems getting diagnosed and more trouble reading.


I have assessed many children in the 18 months since I shared this post to figure out if they are having ocular motor issues or dyslexia. I report results to doc allowing them to diagnose dyslexia if indicated. I have seen children in the 5, 6, and 7th grade cry as they attempted to write the alphabet. I have seen children try to sound out the word “the”. It has been truly heart wrenching. I have helped many kids get the intervention they need, but there are so many others still suffering.

Courses (and books) that change your Prospective

Over the last 25 years I have taken a lot of courses. My favorites were the ones that changed what I did as soon I went back to the clinic. This Dyslexia course did just that sending me off to find visual memory and sequential memory games and brushing up on my Dyslexia Determination Test (DDT) and even giving the Test of Visual Perceptual Skills (TVPS). While I have discussed these assessments elsewhere, I am using them a lot more now and helping families that could not find the answers to help their child learn to read.

The course was called Dyslexia, Dysgraphia and Dyscalculia: Building New Neuro Pathways to Master Visual and Auditory Skills offered by PESI. I recommend it highly.


As mentioned above Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz details the research and explains dyslexia in a wat that makes it more easily recognized

Whats the big change?

I was so close. I had the tools to find the underlying root causes of these reading and spelling difficulties but did not know how to take the next step…how to put it all together.

Now by using the DDT, I identify Dysiedetic (visual or surface) Dyslexia then use the TVPS to find the visual processing areas that are limiting reading performance and address them. In visual dyslexia, patients have difficulty reading and/or spelling sight recognized words. These students are actually too phonetic, making reading and spelling non-phonetic (sight words) more difficult. The assessment can also identify Dysphonetic Dyslexia. When this is the case, I refer them to Speech for work on phonetic awareness.

I then begin working on the deficit areas uncovered by the TVPS. The most areas are visual discrimination, form constancy and visual sequencing. It been interesting seeing how specific the deficient area is.

Here are some of my favorite toys and game when working to improve this dyseidetic dyslexia.


I no longer do this. As I have learned more, I have found that this “bottom up” approach simply is not effective teaching dyslexic children to read. Making the components better better does not seem to improve reading or spelling in dyslexic children. More than that, it delays the intervention that is effective. I have been unable to find any research supporting or refuting the idea that improving these components improves reading or spelling in dyslexic children. The research does not exist.

I continue to work on the ocular motor and near vision focusing problems often found in dyslexic children and include the visual processing tasks mentioned above. I encourage parents to begin the process for dyslexia intervention so it can begin as soon as possible.


Dyslexia is bigger than a reading and spelling problem. When left unrecognized and untreated, these children develop poor self-esteem, get bullied and develop all sorts of behaviors that attempt to hide or disguise there difficulty with reading.

I had one 3rd grade boy who had an IEP in place that dealt with his behavior. He would have outbursts in class and frequently be disruptive. He was referred for OM problems, but as I worked with him, it became obvious he was also dyslexic. His behaviors were cover for his inability to read and a sign of his frustration. As he began his dyslexia intervention, his behaviors improved.

Another child adopted the habit of writing very small, making it difficult to decipher her writing to cover for her poor spelling. It broke my heart as I watched her cry in frustration as she attempted to write the alphabet.

Call the action

If you are working with and assessing ocular motor and near vision focusing issues, then some of the children you are seeing are dyslexic. Getting these children to the intervention they need is important to their academic success. Learn to spot it.

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