A screen full of letters, numbers, and characters that is blurred and difficult to read. Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Imagine a world where reading feels like you're deciphering a secret code. Where letters and words seem crowded together, distorted or reversed. Where it isn't easy to sound out words or keep track of words on a page. This is the world of dyslexia.

Whether you're a teacher with students who have reading challenges, or a student yourself, knowing the signs of different dyslexia types can help you identify resources to manage these challenges.

What is Dyslexia?

Moira from Schitts Creek asking

Dyslexia is a learning disability where someone has difficulty connecting speech sounds to letters and words. This results in spelling and word recognition issues, leading to overall reading comprehension challenges.

This video from the Queensland Department of Education explores the definition of dyslexia through examples of common challenges people with dyslexia may face.

There are 5 subcategories of dyslexia:

  • phonological dyslexia

  • rapid naming dyslexia

  • surface dyslexia

  • visual dyslexia

  • acquired dyslexia

Each type varies, depending on the symptoms someone has.

1. Phonological Dyslexia

A bunch of scattered wood tiles with letters on them that look like they are from the boardgame Scrabble. Photo by Sven Brandsma on Unsplash

This is when someone has difficulty with phonemic awareness (the ability to name and change sounds in words).

Flaticon Icon Possible Symptoms

  • Difficulty learning letter sounds

  • Difficulty spelling words correctly

  • Trouble with blending sounds to make words

  • Slow reading speed

  • Avoids reading

  • Inability to sound out words

2. Rapid Naming Dyslexia

Someone from the Simpsons cartoon setting a timer.

This may describe someone who struggles with naming letters and identifying numbers and colors quickly.

Possible Symptoms

Flaticon Icon

  • Difficulty naming words by sight

  • Slow to complete writing assignments

  • Slower reading pace


Emma loves listening to stories but shies away from reading. She reads slowly and doesn't always remember the sounds letters make. She is a wonderful illustrator but often misspells words. Given these challenges, she may have:

3. Surface Dyslexia

Someone reading through and making notes in a dictionary.

This happens when someone can sound out new words but has difficulty recognizing high-frequency words (i.e. from, said, the, etc.) and words that aren't spelled how they sound (i.e. yacht, through, etc.).

Possible Symptoms

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  • Poor spelling

  • Slow reading speed

  • Difficulty reading words by sight

4. Visual Dyslexia

Someone reading and pointing to words on the page.

This is similar to surface dyslexia in that people may not easily recall what they've seen on a page. This breakdown relates to visual processing, as their eyes don't seem to fully understand what was seen.

Possible Symptoms Flaticon Icon

  • Difficulty tracking across a line

  • Eyestrain headaches

  • Blurred/unfocused vision

  • Trouble with reading comprehension

5. Acquired Dyslexia

A lighted image of the brain.

This type of dyslexia is caused by trauma to the brain and impacts the language processing center. The symptoms of acquired dyslexia are similar to the ones shared above. However, it's the only type with a known cause.


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Dyslexia is a broad topic and the research out there can be overwhelming. Don't worry though! If you're looking for next steps, these suggestions can help get you started:

Flaticon Icon For Students:

  • Speak with your teacher or school counselor to see if they observe any dyslexia-related symptoms in your assignments or classroom performance.

  • You may consider obtaining an evaluation yourself to see if you qualify for special education services or special accommodations.

  • Visit Reading Rockets for more details about dyslexia assessments and evaluations.

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For Teachers:

  • Speak with your students' parents or guardians to share your concerns; encourage them to request an evaluation.

  • Share your concerns with Special Education professionals at your school and ask for guidance and support in assessing and addressing students' needs.

  • Differentiate your instruction to include multisensory teaching methods, additional assignment time, or small group support.

  • Encourage your student to share their needs with you. Ask what they struggle with most so that you can provide specific support.

  • Learn about how to support students with dyslexia in your classroom by visiting the teacher resources page at The Yale Center.

  • Learn about supporting neurodiverse students by checking out the Byte How do I support neurodiversity in my classroom as a teacher?


You're concerned that your student may have dyslexia. What should you do? Select all that apply.

Take Action

An open book on a table. Photo by Mikołaj on Unsplash

If you suspect you are experiencing symptoms of dyslexia:


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