The Different Types of Dyslexia: Targeting Intervention

Although reading disorders were recognized back in the late 1800s, the term dyslexia didn’t become a recognized condition until the 1970’s-1980’s.  Since then, it has received an
enormous amount of research and professional based attention.  However, many educators and clinicians
are still mystified about how to best pinpoint the specific needs of each student
with dyslexia.  
The primary
underlying cause of this confusion is the fact that there are many cognitive
weaknesses or deficits that can trigger a diagnosis of dyslexia.  So much like a dart board, if service
providers continue to aim interventions at the wrong place, they may play a
frustrating game and they will certainly never hit the bull’s-eye.  As a result professionals have begun to
propose subtypes that categorize dyslexics based on common symptoms, so individuals with dyslexia can be understood and service providers can target
the needed areas of attention. 
What are the different types of
The three most commonly defined subtypes of dyslexia are Dyseidetic Dyslexia
or Visual Dyslexia, Dysphonetic Dyslexia or Auditory Dyslexia and Dysphoneidetic or
Alexic Dyslexia. 
1) Dyseidetic
Dyslexia or Visual Dyslexia: 
is when a learner struggles with the
decoding and or spelling of words because he or she has great difficulty remembering
or revisualizing the word, particularly irregular sightwords (also known as
eidetic words).  These learners tend to have good auditory processing
skills as well as an understanding of phonics, but they struggle with visual processing, memory
synthesis and sequencing of words.  Word or letter reversals when reading, as well as writing and spelling difficulties are also common.
2) Dysphonetic
Dyslexia or Auditory Dyslexia: 
is when a learner struggles with the
decoding and or spelling of words because he or she has great difficulty
associating sounds with symbols (also known as phonemic awareness).  These learners tend to have good visual processing skills, but they
have deficits in auditory processing as well as linking a sound to a
visual cue.
3) Dysphoneidetic or Alexic Dyslexia: is when a
learner struggles with both visual and auditory processing deficits.  This subcategory is known as Mixed
Dyslexia or Dysphoneidetic Dyslexia 
What about the Other
Cognitive Struggles that Are Often Associated with Dyslexia?
Although the above designations are somewhat helpful, they do not
address all the areas that can be associated with dyslexia such as difficulties with handwriting, oral language, math, motor planning and
coordination, organization, orientation to time, focus and attention, spatial
perception, and eye movement control. As a result, Mattis French and Rapin proposed
a different breakdown based on a study they conducted of 113 children with
dyslexia. They proposed three very different classifications:
1) Syndrome I: Language Disorder 
These learners experience anomia, comprehension                deficits, and confusion with speech and sound discrimination.
2)  Syndrome II: Articulatory and Graphomotor Dyscoordination – These learners exhibit gross and
fine motor coordination deficits, as well as poor speech and graphomotor
3) Syndrome III:
Visuospatial Perceptual Disorder 
– These learners have poor
visuospatial perception and difficulties encoding and retrieving visual stimuli.
But What About Those That Learn to Compensate for Their
Although dyslexia presents
significant challenges, many learn to compensate and become successful and
celebrated professionals.  Dr.
Fernette and Brock Eide coined yet another term, Stealth Dyslexia, to describe gifted dyslexics who learned to
compensate for reading difficulties with great analytical and problem-solving strengths.  However, these learners still experience significant difficulties with writing and spelling.  Because they are so smart, the difficulties these individuals experience are often characterized with inappropriate labels such as careless or lazy.  As a result,  many with stealth dyslexia can feel a sense of learned helplessness.

So, although these new ways of
breaking dyslexia down into subcategories is helpful, clearly they still need
to be refined.  I am dyslexic
myself and feel that none of the subcategories or designations captures my
profile.  Perhaps the solution lies
in allowing each individual diagnosis to list the specific areas of cognitive
deficits that impact learning so individual students can receive tailored interventions.
I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic.

If you are looking for multisensory and mindful materials for dyslexia remediation, come check us out at 

Cheers, Erica
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to and 

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4 replies
  1. Sandra Norman
    Sandra Norman says:

    I liked your conclusion about each profile needing to be tailor made for individuals. I think when you start accumulating defecits in more and more areas it gets so much more frustrating (and harder to solve).

  2. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Because of the different types of dyslexia…all the more reason teachers should be trained in phonics, spelling patterns, handwriting w/sounds etc…either a Spaulding/or Neuhaus method. Thanks for making this clear…


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