Dyseidetic versus Dysphonetic Dyslexia

dyslexia-12Deer momee and dadee
I bo not wont to do to shool eny more becouse the children ar lafing at me. I canot reed pleese help me
your sun david

David is not a dunce. In fact, according to the evaluations of a few professionals, he is rather intelligent. Yet he certainly has a problem, and he shares his problem with millions of other children and adults. David is dyslexic.

The term dyslexia was introduced in 1884 by the German ophthalmologist, R. Berlin. He coined it from the Greek words dys meaning ill or difficult and lexis meaning word, and used it to describe a specific disturbance of reading in the absence of pathological conditions in the visual organs. In a later publication, in 1887, Berlin stated that dyslexia, “presuming right handedness,” is caused by a left-sided cerebral lesion. He spoke of “word-blindness” and detailed his observations with six patients with brain lesions who had full command over verbal communications but had lost the ability to read.

In the century to follow the narrow definition Berlin attached to the term dyslexia would broaden. Today the term dyslexia is frequently used to refer to a normal child — or adult — who seems brighter than what his reading and written work suggest. While the term is mostly used to describe a severe reading problem, there has been little agreement in the literature or in practice concerning the definition of severe or the specific distinguishing characteristics that differentiate dyslexia from other reading problems.

The terms dyseidetic and dysphonetic are generally used to describe two main types of dyslexia.

Dyseidetic dyslexia

The prominent characteristic of dyseidetic dyslexia, also called visual dyslexia, surface dyslexia or orthographic dyslexia, is the inability to revisualize the gestalt of words. Usually, the child has little difficulty spelling words which may be long but are phonetically regular. It is the small but irregular non-phonetic words, such as what, the, talk, does, that create the greatest difficulty for this child.

Author Corinne Roth Smith lists the reading and spelling patterns of children with dyseidetic dyslexia:

• Confusion with letters that differ in orientation (b-d, p-q).

• Confusion with words that can be dynamically reversed (was-saw).

• Very limited sight vocabulary; few words are instantly recognized from their whole configuration — they need to be sounded out laboriously, as though being seen for the first time.

• Losing the place because one doesn’t instantly recognize what had already been read, as when switching one’s gaze from the right side of one line to the left side of the next line.

• Omitting letters and words because they weren’t visually noted.

• Masking the image of one letter, by moving the eye too rapidly to the subsequent letter, may result in omission of the first letter.

• Difficulty learning irregular words that can’t be sounded out (for example, sight).

• Difficulty with rapid retrieval of words due to visual retrieval weaknesses.

• Visual stimuli in reading prove so confusing that it is easier for the child to learn to read by first spelling the words orally and then putting them in print.

• Insertions, omissions, and substitutions, if the meaning of the passage is guiding reading.

• Strengths in left hemisphere language-processing, analytical and sequential abilities, and detail analysis; can laboriously sound out phonetically regular words even up to grade level.

• Difficulty recalling the shape of a letter when writing.

• Spells phonetically but not bizarrely (laf-laugh; bisnis-business).

• Can spell difficult phonetic words but not simple irregular words.

Dysphonetic dyslexia

Dysphonetic dyslexia, also called auditory dyslexia or phonological dyslexia, is on the other hand associated with auditory-processing difficulties. These children have difficulty remembering letter sounds, analyzing the individual sounds in words, and sequencing/blending these into words.

Smith lists the reading and spelling patterns of children with dysphonetic dyslexia:

• Difficulty discriminating between individual sounds in beginning reading instructions (occurs very seldom).

• Difficulty processing rapid auditory inputs so that consonant sounds that cannot be sustained (p-b) are not perceived; these may then be omitted in reading.

• Poor ability to analyze the sequence of sounds and syllables in words; consequently they become reversed in reading words; this is akin to the problem faced orally when poor auditory analysis has taught the child such phrases as “lead a snot into temptation” and “Harold be Thy name” in the Lord’s prayer, or “lmnop” being one lumped cluster in the alphabet song.

• Poor ability to remember individual sounds or sequences of sounds.

• Difficulty blending individual sounds into words.

• Difficulty listening to words and omitting one sound and substituting it for another (say cat; now take off the /c/ and put on an /f/); such abilities are essential for word analysis because that is what figuring out how to phonetically decode a word is all about; children usually develop this skill with initial consonants, and then medial vowels or consonants.

• Difficulty remembering the sounds that individual letters and phonetically regular and irregular letter combinations represent.

• Inability to rapidly retrieve letter sounds while analyzing words, so that the beginning of the word is forgotten by the time the last letter of the word is recalled (naming problem).

• Difficulty analyzing unknown words because of poor knowledge of phonetic rules and difficulty sequencing sounds.

• Difficulty applying the phonetic rules from words that can be read to pseudowords that follow the same pattern but are not real words.

• Vowel sounds are particularly troublesome.

• Word substitutions that are conceptually (person, human) or visually (horse, house) related, but not phonetically related.

• Limited sight vocabulary because the student cannot memorize an abundance of words without the benefit of phonetic cues.

• Guessing at unfamiliar words rather than employing word-analysis skills.

• Spelling remains below reading level because it is attempted by sight rather than by ear.

• Correct spellings occur primarily on words that the child has encountered repeatedly and therefore can revizualize.

• Bizarre spellings that seldom can be identified, even by the child, because they do not follow phonetic patterns.

• Extraneous letters and omitted syllables in spelling.


It should be noted that two separate regions of the brain are involved in reading: one in sounding out words, and the other in seeing words as pictures.

Neuroscientists at Georgetown University Medical Center (2016) discovered that skilled readers can recognize words at lightning fast speed when they read because the word has been placed in a sort of visual dictionary. This part of the brain is known as the visual word form area, and functions separately from an area that processes the sounds of written words.

Glezer and her coauthors tested word recognition in 27 volunteers in two different experiments using fMRI. They were able to see that words that were different, but sound the same, like ‘hare’ and ‘hair’ activate different neurons, akin to accessing different entries in a dictionary’s catalogue. If the sounds of the word had influence in this part of the brain we would expect to see that they activate the same or similar neurons, but this was not the case — ‘hair’ and ‘hare’ looked just as different as ‘hair’ and ‘soup’. In addition, the researchers found a different distinct region that was sensitive to the sounds, where ‘hair’ and ‘hare’ did look the same. The researchers thus showed that the brain has regions that specialize in doing each of the components of reading: one region is doing the visual piece and the other is doing the sound out piece. The part of the brain that does not work well in the case of a child with dyseidetic dyslexia is most likely the region that is doing the visual piece, while the part of the brain that does not work well then in the case of a child with dysphonetic dyslexia is the auditory piece.

Glezer’s research confirms what we already know: that auditory processing and auditory memory are foundational to learning sounds and phonics, while visual processing and visual memory are foundational to learning sight words. Weak foundational skills can cause either dyseidetic or dysphonetic dyslexia, or both.


The good news is that weaknesses in foundational skills can be attacked head-on; it is possible to strengthen these cognitive skills through training and practice. Edublox’s Development Tutor aims at strengthening underlying cognitive skills including visual and auditory processing skills, as well as visual and auditory memory. In addition, a child with dyslexia will also need application in the form of reading and spelling exercises. The old saying ‘practice makes perfect’ still applies. This can best be accomplished by Edublox’s live tutoring services.

If live tutoring is impossible, consider Edublox’s Reading Tutor program.

Watch the video below for more information:.

Key takeaways


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