Dyslexia Series: Dysphonetic Dyslexia


If you consider dyslexia, you might immediately think of backwards letters or mixed-up words in a sentence. You might not typically think of hearing words in a scrambled way or having trouble processing the sounds. But these are symptoms of a type of dyslexia just as valid as the next—dysphonetic dyslexia.

Dyphonetic dyslexia (also called auditory dyslexia) refers to a child who exhibits auditory-processing difficulties and greatly struggles with the concept of phonics. They often have trouble linking a sound (or phoneme) to a letter symbol, remembering letter sounds, sequencing or blending sounds to form words, and breaking down words into individual sounds. Children with dysphonetic dyslexia experience great difficulty recognizing unknown words in reading due to poor knowledge and grasp of phonetic rules. They also struggle with applying phonetic rules to other similarly-patterned words, and they will often guess at words instead of analyzing them. Unlike with dyseidetic dyslexia from last week’s blog, dysphonetic dyslexia does not seem to have a clear-cut genetic influence. There is, however, some evidence that suggests it may be linked to chronic ear infections before the child reaches the age of two.

Implications of Dysphonetic Dyslexia in the Classroom

Many students with this type of dyslexia may be tone deaf and are typically bad test-takers. Their reading and writing skills suffer because the students rely only on sight recognition to comprehend or explain what they are reading or writing. They struggle to follow verbal instructions without constant repetition and will often be slow participants in a conversation, asking for clarification frequently. Their difficulties understanding peers and following simple verbal directions in class can cause issues with self-confidence that may appear through outbursts of frustration, anti-social behavior, or other behavioral problems.

Students with dysphonetic dyslexia often struggle with

  • Vowel sounds in particular

  • The analysis or sequencing of sounds and syllables in words

  • Sounding out words

  • Remembering regular and irregular sound combinations

  • Limited sight vocabulary

  • Omitting sounds in a word or incorrectly naming them

  • Un-sustained or short consonant sounds in reading (typically p’s and b’s)

  • Remembering individual sounds in a word

  • Spelling

  • Blending individual sounds into words

  • Being asked to omit and substitute a sound in a word (ex. “turn ‘hat’ into ‘bat’ ”)

  • Recognizing and analyzing unknown words

Effective Strategies

Allow extra time in exams or for homework.

Give instructions one at a time, speaking clearly and slowly. Repeat instructions as often as needed. Ask the student to repeat them back to you to ensure they understand.

Incorporate the use of software programs with acoustically-modified speech for help with auditory-processing difficulties.

Provide the student ample experience with spelling and vocabulary words. The correct spelling of a word is usually only attained by encountering it so often that the student can revisualize it in his/her mind.

Practice memorizing words to add to the student’s lexicon. Most words are either known or unknown to the student and can only be learned through rote memorization.

Consider allowing the use of Dictaphones or other technology in the classroom.

Helpful Resources

If your child is struggling with dysphonetic dyslexia, here are some additional resources that may be able to help:

  • The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan: A Blueprint for Renewing Your Child's Confidence and Love of Learning by Ben Foss

  • Learning and Learning Difficulties: Approaches to Teaching and Assessment by Peter Westwood

  • Dyslexia Reading Well: http://www.dyslexia-reading-well.com/surface-dyslexia.html

  • Dyslexia Online: http://dyslexia.learninginfo.org/

  • Learning Disabilities Online: www.ldonline.org/

Tennessee Dyslexia Centers is here for you and can help your struggling reader. We are equipped to work with all ages and have the ability to increase your child's reading skills drastically. Contact our office for a free consultation today! 615-236-6483 | tndyslexiac@gmail.com

Featured Posts
Recent Posts