Reading Disorders

Dyslexia and Dysgraphia

Dyslexia is characterized by difficulty with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities in children and adults. Dysgraphia is an impairment in written expression.  More formally, both dyslexia and dysgraphia are aspects of  a specific learning disorder that is neurobiological in origin.

Dyslexia and dysgrphaia 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.

What is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is perhaps the most common neurobehavioral disorder affecting children, with prevalence rates ranging from 5 to 17.5 percent. Family history is one of the most important risk factors, with 23 percent to as much as 65 percent of children who have a parent with dyslexia reported to have the disorder. A rate among siblings of affected persons of approximately 40 percent and among parents ranging from 27 to 49 percent provides opportunities for early identification of affected siblings and often for delayed but helpful identification of affected adults. Within the last two decades overwhelming evidence from many laboratories has converged to indicate the cognitive basis for dyslexia: dyslexia represents a disorder within the language system and more specifically within a particular subcomponent of that system, phonological processing.

What is dysgraphia?

Dysgraphia is complex and multi-faceted.  Some aspects of dysgraphia are motor- and sensory-based, falling into the area related handwriting skills. Other characteristics of dysgraphia are language-based and include:

Difficulty with Language Processing

  • Is slow to put ideas down on paper
  • Doesn’t understand rules of games
  • Difficulty following directions
  • Loses his train of thought

Difficulty with Grammar and Word Usage

  • Struggles using punctuation
  • Overuses commas and mixes up verb tenses
  • Difficulty appropriately using capital letters
  • Writes in incomplete sentences
  • Frequently uses run-on sentences

Organization of Written Language

  • Difficulty telling a story sequentially
  • Either omits critical facts and details or provides too much information
  • Struggles taking another’s point of view — assumes others know what he’s talking about
  • Uses vague descriptions
  • Sentences are incoherent
  • Comparatively excels at conveying ideas when speaking

How do I know if my child has dyslexia or dysgraphia?

Dyslexia and dysgraphia are diagnosed or ruled out through a series of assessment tools that look at a range of reading skills. A certified speech-language pathologist along with a certified occupational therapist are able to conduct this series of assessment tools to help determine how to best meet your child’s needs.

How can reading therapy help?

CSLOT’s multi-tiered reading therapy program addresses both the neurological underpinnings of reading as well other foundational aspects of reading such as sound identification, speed, and fluency.  Reading therapy can help your child move toward improved reading ability.


American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. Washington, D.C: American Psychiatric Association.

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