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Can A Child With Autism Have Dyslexia

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Comorbidity Between Dyslexia And Asd

There is only a small literature on the overlap in symptomology between autism spectrum disorders with those of dyslexia. Officially, as for ADHD, ASD is an exclusionary criterion for diagnosis of dyslexia and vice versa, but ASD also shows overlap with dyslexia in both cognitive and behavioural features . A proportion of children share symptoms between dyslexia, ADHD and ASD.

The number of children that do share symptoms of ASD and dyslexia is likely to be small . The frequency of reading disorder in combination with disorder of written expression was around 14% in a sample of adults with Aspergers Syndrome so according to this result around one in seven individuals with AS will have co-occurring dyslexia . However the proportion of individuals with dyslexia who have co-occuring AS is likely to be low as Aspergers Syndrome is much a rarer condition than dyslexia.

Overall, the literature suggests, there is good evidence to suggest that some children do suffer from symptoms of both dyslexia and ASD, although this is not so well established, and does not occur so frequently as co-morbidity between ADHD and ASD.

During Middle And Secondary School

  • Reluctant reading
  • Slow, word-by-word reading; great difficulty with words in lists, nonsense words, and words not in their listening vocabulary
  • Very poor spelling: misspell sounds, leave out sounds, add or leave out letters or whole syllables
  • Non-fluent writing: slow, poor quality and quantity of the product
  • When speaking, may have a tendency to mispronounce common words ; difficulty using or comprehending more complex grammatical structures
  • Listening comprehension is usually superior to performance on timed measures of reading comprehension
  • Weak vocabulary knowledge and use

For more signs, read Signs of Dyslexia in Young and Elementary School Children.

A Literacy And Typing Tool

The Touch-type Read and Spell program is a literacy tool that can help students with dyspraxia and autism acquire typing skills, build confidence and develop a positive self-image. It helps students to feel and to be successful from the very beginning and teaches typing via a phonics-based method that reinforces reading and spelling skills at the same time.

A modular and step-by-step design allows for self-pacing so every learner can proceed at a pace that works for him or her.


What Can Parents Do For Children With Dyslexia

Encouragement and parental support are essential for the child to succeed. You may do the following to help your child.

  • Seek early diagnosis and interventions for any developmental delay in your child.
  • Read aloud to your child from preschool age. You may start reading stories or poems to your child as early as six months of age. You could also play recorded books for younger children and when they are old enough to read, try to read with them.
  • Keep in touch with your childs teachers to know their academic progress.
  • Limit the screen time to increase the reading
  • Join a support group to stay encouraged.

Academic issues do not mean that a child with dyslexia cant succeed in life. Many people with dyslexia are talented artists, gifted in math, science, and creativity.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder


Autistic children with ADHD tend to have challenges with executive functioning how your brain is able to process planning, self-control, short-term memory, and decision-making.

ASD and ADHD can , and genetics tend to play a role in both conditions. They also have similar symptoms, including:

  • social difficulties

suggests that anywhere from 3080% of autistic people might be living with ADHD.

Common Learning Disorders: Dyslexia Dysgraphia And Dyscalculia

Learning disorders alter brain functioning in a manner which affects cognitive processes related to learning. A condition like dyslexia, for instance, affects an individuals ability to read via challenges with word recognition and decoding. As many as 5 to 15% of Americans have dyslexia. Dyslexia does not have any relationship to a persons intelligence. Common learning disorders include dyslexia, which affects reading; dyscalculia, which affects mathematics; and dysgraphia, which affects writing.

These conditions can all occur independently of autism spectrum disorder, or alongside it. Researchers note that dyslexic children may experience visual and auditory processing difficulties, similar to hyper or hypo sensitivity often associated with ASD. Further, they note, some dyslexic children may also have strengths in particular areas, such as design, logic, and creative skills which may mimic similar focuses in individuals with ASD.

Cognitive Causes And Developmental Consequences

The competing psychological theories that have been put forward concerning the psychological mechanisms of ASD include weak central coherence theory, deficits in executive function and the extreme male brain theory, all were reviewed by Happé in 1994.

The extreme male brain theory as developed by Baron-Cohen suggests that autistic individuals can systematizethat is, they can develop internal rules of operationbut are less effective at empathizing and handling events that are unexpected or social. The theory was developed from the earlier theory of mind . This suggested that autistic people lack the ability to understand other peoples mental states, put themselves in another persons place or imagine what they might be thinking or experiencing. This lack of mentalising is discussed by Frith and Happé in their discussion of dyslexia, autism and downstream effects of specific impairments . The theory of mind lines up with the mirror neuron theory of autism which was based on the discovery that the macaque monkey brain contained mirror neurons that fired not only when the animal is in action, but also when it observes others carrying out the same actions.

Russell Barkley conceptualizes executive control as the methods of self-regulation. He writes entertainingly on how a person might use executive functions to resist the temptation to buy a tempting pastry from a shop:

Much Deeper Than Mirror Writing

The idea or myth mentioned abovethat dyslexia is simply a learning disability where children reverse letters and numbers and see words backwardsmade dyslexia seem like a visual disturbance or challenge. This was proven in a study where findings indicated that even teachers upheld the prevailing myth that dyslexia is a visual processing disorder encompassing mirror writing and word reversal rather than a phonological processing disorder.

In contrast, a study mentions the cognitive basis of dyslexia. The authors refer to dyslexia as a language disorder with specific deficits in phonological processing. 

The same study by Shaywitz et al. feels evidence of disruptions in the neural systems serving reading has far reaching implications for the acceptance of dyslexia as a valid disorder.

The difficulties caused by dyslexia cant be denied, but diagnosing the condition has always been difficult. Some studies feel the existing definitions of dyslexia are to blame for unreliable diagnosis, possibly due to the fact that definitions of the disorder rely on a single indicatorfor example deficits in decoding.

A holistic way of evaluating dyslexia may also be of importance when diagnosing a child with autism who shows such symptoms. Rather than focusing on a single indicator, like the above mentioned letter reversal, it is important to look at the childs symptoms, medical history, comorbidities and any other relevant factors to obtain an accurate diagnosis.

How To Increase Confidence

One of the biggest challenges for children with ADHD and dyslexia is being able to feel good about themselves. Often, their confidence and self-esteem are low as they struggle with tasks that their peers may find easy. Here are three things you can do to help:

Identify: When children know they have a condition with a name, like ADHD and dyslexia, it helps them. They understand why they are the way they are, and it stops them looking for explanations for themselves, which are often terms like I am stupid and I am dumb.”

Effort, not results: Give your child positive feedback on the effort they put into a task rather than their results or grades. A child with dyslexia and ADHD has to work harder than other students, yet that effort is not always reflected in their grades. Knowing that their effort is recognized by you makes a big difference to a childs self-esteem.

Activity outside of school: When your child shows an interest in an activity outside of school, encourage it. Being good at somethingwhether it is a martial art, a sport, arts or craftsbuilds confidence. It has a positive ripple effect on other areas of life, including school-related activities.

As with any learning disability, ADHD and dyslexia cannot be cured. However, they can both be treated and managed so your child can lead a successful life.

Dyslexia And Developmental Dyslexia

Dyslexia and developmental dyslexia are the same conditions. Usually, when someone says dyslexia they are referring to developmental dyslexia, a condition that is inherited. The other type of dyslexia is acquired dyslexia, which means a person became dyslexic due to a brain lesion such as after experiencing a traumatic brain injury or having a stroke.

This can happen with ADHD too. Most people inherit ADHD from a family member, yet a small portion of the population might acquire ADHD symptoms, either prenatally or during development, due to a variety of causes that may damage the brain.

A Fundamental Change In Methods: Looking Inside The Brain/mind

It is a little known fact that the development of diagnostic tests for adults gainedimpetus from the desire to make use of the emerging neuroimaging techniques. This advanceoccurred because it seemed wrong to scan children. In fact, when we scanned the firstdyslexic adults in the mid 1990s, we had known them from when they had been first diagnosedas children. The same was true for the first autistic adults. The diagnostic tests nowavailable have been a great boon in many ways, but especially for those people who hadslipped through the net and were not diagnosed as children. They had unjustly been labeledslow, lazy, or unintelligent. Having a name for your problems and learning that there areothers like you can be liberating.

Today, when researchers have reassured themselves that MRI methods are safe also forchildren, the field is changing again. There are now several longitudinal studies inprogress in which individuals are scanned repeatedly over many years. This work is giving usinformation about the developing brain and mind that we simply never had before. Forinstance, there is a dramatic waxing and waning restructuring of gray and white matterthroughout childhood and adolescence. This work should get us closer to understand whichcognitive processes might go wrong in neurodevelopmental disorders and when.

How Parents And Teachers Can Help

When a child has trouble fitting in it can lead to feelings of low self-worth. Thats why encouraging these kids and helping them find activities that they are good at is key. If a student with autism is interested in a particular topic, allow them to study it.

Help dyspraxic learners develop their coordination skills by familiarizing them with activities before they are expected to perform them in front of others. Allow them plenty of time to learn and practice a series of movements.

Confidence-building in an academic sense is also important, as many dyspraxic and autistic learners feel disempowered in a traditional classroom. Provide them with opportunities for success and then follow up with plenty of due praise. Learn more in our posts on building confidence in learners and Self-esteem vs. confidence, whats the difference?

The Rise And Fall Of Asperger Syndrome

I have Dyslexia

Autism has always been with us, but it has been recognized only since the mid 20th century,and then only very slowly. The prevalence is now thought to be around 1%, which is astaggering increase from the 0.1% estimate from 25 years ago. One major reason for theincrease is the widening of the diagnostic criteria the spectrum of autism is nowincredibly broad. At one extreme is the individual who does not use speech and has severelyrepetitive and restricted behaviors; at the other extreme is the individual with Aspergersyndrome who is highly articulate and has superior analytic abilities and fascinatingspecial interests. Despite these differences, there is a common denominator: a highlyrecognizable lack of reciprocal social interaction. Even the very able individual on themilder part of the autism spectrum cannot compensate for a peculiar void in socialinteraction: engaging in the ordinary to and fro of everyday human communication .

Correlations Between Standardised Test Scores For The Asd Group

Hierarchical regression analyses were next performed to assess the contributions of age and foundation language and literacy skills to individual differences in reading comprehension for each group separately . In Model 1 the predictors were age, word reading, nonword reading and receptive vocabulary, entered at each step consecutively. Age accounted for significant variance in reading comprehension for both groups, less so for the ASD group. Word reading accounted for significant variance in reading comprehension for both groups. Nonword reading accounted for unique variance in reading comprehension when word reading was controlled in the TD peers, but it did not account for variance in reading comprehension in the ASD group . Indeed, when word reading was omitted as a predictor , nonword reading accounted for significant unique variance in reading comprehension after receptive vocabulary was controlled for the ASD group but not for the TD group. Finally, receptive vocabulary accounted for significant unique variance in reading comprehension when word reading and nonword reading were controlled for both groups.

Signs Of Dyslexia In Children

Here is a generalized list of signs of dyslexia children. Keep in mind that it is not uncommon to have a one or two of each and not be dyslexic at all. Dyslexics usually display many of these signs in all categories. It is also not meant to give any one or anyones child a formal diagnosis. Please see the appropriate healthcare professional for that, as there are many overlapping behaviors with other conditions. It takes a professional and clinical testing to evaluate a proper diagnosis.

The Impact Of Learning Disorders On Mental Health

Co-occurring autism and learning disorders can also lead to serious mental health issues. It is common for people with learning disorders to experience anxiety, depression, and self-esteem issues. In one study, children with learning disorders reported more loneliness, more victimization, and less social satisfaction when compared to peers without learning disorders. People with autism are also at a heightened risk for anxiety and depression symptoms. Thus, when learning disorders occur alongside autism, children can be at even greater risk for mental health issues.

Parenting A Child With Dyslexia

Yuliss is a mother of four girls ages 9, 7, and 5-year-old twins. She has volunteered with children of all ages and abilities.

As a new parent, you have researched and prepared for your bundle of joy. You have listened to other peoples experiences of everything, from labor and delivery through the early years. You rejoice in the good stories, and empathize with sad onesbut still, you have no idea what to really expect.

Our firstborn daughter needed minor resuscitation at birth. She came out floppy like a rag doll. She was not crying at delivery and she had a very slow heart rate. She started to cry quickly after efforts where initiated. The next six months were an adaption to many new situations. We watched our babys development towards what we thought were reasonably normal milestones.

My two daughters at ages 3 years and 6 months old. My oldest was later formally diagnosed with dyslexia. You cant tell a dyslexic by looking at them. For many families, childhood dyslexia can be confusing, stressful and frustrating.

Dyslexia And Autism Symptoms

Preschoolers suffering from dyslexia shows signs as follows:

  • They find difficulty in remembering the alphabet.
  • Faces difficulty in pronouncing similar words.
  • Trouble while recognizing letters.
  •  Unable to recognize rhymings, for example, Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall / Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.

Grade-schoolers suffering from dyslexia:

  • Reading is very slow as compared to the kids of their age
  • Write slowly
  • Unable to differentiate between other letters and words
  • have difficulty in writing the letter in the backward direction like b instead of d
  • words written on the paper appears them to be blurry or jump around
  • Unable to follow instructions

What Adhd Looks Like In Adults

Because ADHD is a long-term condition, these symptoms can continue into adulthood. In fact, its estimated that 60 percent of children with ADHD become adults with ADHD.

In adulthood, symptoms might not be as obvious as they are in children. Adults with ADHD might have trouble focusing. They could be forgetful, restless, fatigued, or disorganized, and they might struggle with follow-through on complicated tasks.

Early Elementary School: Finally Some Answers

As she became school aged she struggled with reading, writing, and math. Teachers said she was falling behind. We were doing lots of things to help her at home. We were encouraging learning, and reading and writing. We were helping her with her school work and discussing her school days at home. So why was she still having difficulties?! She would seem to formally learn something one day and completely forget it the next. She liked school; she enjoyed being social, but teachers reported difficulty focusing and retaining information.

In conversation, she would express unrealistic ideas of events that occurred, such as “I went to the fair when I was a newborn,” but she was really six years old at the time and it was a year ago, rather than six years previous. Accuracy with dates and numbers, ages, and times was hard to grasp. The school urged us to have a psycho-educational assessment done.

The The results of her psycho-educational assessment came back showing dyslexia. But with so many signs of dyslexia mimicking other conditions what narrows it down to dyslexia? Through the journey we have been able to rule out attention deficit disorder , autism, and any kind of behavior or mood components.

This is an example of a note for me from my daughter. She was 6 years old at the time and wrote it without assistance. You can see the trouble with letter sound and organization. The note was meant to read I love mom, shes the best.

Question: Since Kids With Autism Can Get Special Education Services Does That Mean Autism Is A Learning Disability

5 Activities for Children with Dyslexia

No, autism spectrum disorder isnt a learning disability. But it does affect learning  sometimes in ways like learning disabilities. And kids who have autism are often eligible for special education

Special education law covers 13 types of disabilities, including a category known as specific learning disability . Autism is another category.

Kids who have an SLD have challenges in certain academic skills. Reading, writing, and math are the main ones. Autism may cause challenges in those areas, too. However, it also has a broader impact on how kids develop.

It affects communication and can cause trouble with social skills. It also tends to involve sensory processing issues, repeated movements, and limited interests.

Teachers and doctors know a lot about how to help with autism and with learning disabilities. But the strategies can be very different. Some supports that are great for kids with learning disabilities may not work for kids with autismand vice versa. Autism and learning disabilities can co-occur, too.

See two grade-schoolers explain what autism and dyslexia feel like in this video from Not Your Mum.

Understood as used above includes Understood For All Inc., and their officers, affiliates, parents, and related entities, and their respective employees, contractors, or other personnel.

What Is A Learning Disability

A learning disability is a neurological condition that interferes with how someone learns. It has nothing to do with intelligence, motivation, or poor parenting. It is a difference in how information is received and processed in the brain.

Some different types of learning disabilities include:

  • Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability. Individuals with dyslexia may have trouble with letter and word recognition, understanding words and ideas, reading speed and fluency, and general vocabulary.
  • Dyscalculia is a number-based learning disability. People with dyscalculia may struggle with recalling sequences of numbers, calculating using math functions, organization of numbers, operation signs, number facts, counting, and telling time.
  • Dysgraphia is a writing-based learning disability. Individuals with dysgraphia may have problems with neatness when writing, illegible handwriting, copying letters and words, spelling, and organizing their thoughts on paper.

Nonverbal learning disorders cause problems in distinguishing nonverbal language, such as tone of voice, facial expressions, gestures, and body language. There also may be difficulty with motor coordination and memory recall. Children with NLD are sometimes clumsy and can lack awareness of personal boundaries.

What To Ask Your Childs Doctor

To diagnose autism, a doctor will check your childâs development and behavior. The doctor may ask you questions, take a full health history, and observe your kid’s behavior.

If the doctor thinks they might have ASD, they may suggest an evaluation. Thatâs when a team of experts who specialize in autism — including a neurologist, psychologist, psychiatrist, speech therapist, or other professionals — do a series of tests and screenings to see if your child has autism or another issue, like a psychological or speech disorder.

If you think your child may have been misdiagnosed with autism or may have another health problem, ask your childâs doctor these questions:

Have you checked my childâs hearing?Hearing problems can cause speech development delays and other issues that can be mistaken for autism.

Are there other tests we should consider?For example, if you live in an old home, you may want to request a test to check for lead in your childâs blood.

Can I see a specialist or a team of specialists?If your doctor says your kid has autism, but your child hasnât also seen a neurologist, psychiatrist, or other professionals who specialize in ASD, ask for referrals so you can get more information.

Can we move forward with treatment even if weâre not sure what this is?If your child has a developmental delay that may or may not be autism, treatment such as occupational therapy, speech therapy, or social skills training may still help.

How Is Hyperlexia Diagnosed

Hyperlexia I is not a disorder and doesn’t need a diagnosis. 

Hyperlexia II is diagnosed by:   

  • Ability to read far above what’s expected based on a childâs age
  • Obsession with numbers and letters
  • Learning in a rote way, such as by repeating chunks of information
  • Other behavioral problems

Hyperlexia III can be difficult to diagnose because, in addition to early reading, children often show âautistic-likeâ traits and behaviors. These include:

  • Remarkable ability to memorize
  • Phobias and fears
  • Lining/stacking behaviors
  • Pronoun reversals, such as referring to themselves as he, she, or you or by their own nameâ

However, children with hyperlexia are often affectionate, outgoing, and interactive with their immediate family members. Their autistic-like behaviors decrease over time, and they end up being typical for their age. This needs to be diagnosed by a professional who has expertise in ASD and hyperlexia III.

Evidence Of Symptom Overlap Asd And Adhd

Various studies have looked for ADHD or ADHD symptoms in samples of children with autism or ASD. Rates of ADHD have ranged from 28% to 78% of these samples . Studies that look at ADHD symptoms have reported even higher numbers: for example, Sturm, Fernell, & Gillberg, looked at a sample of around 100 high functioning children with ASD and found 95% had attention problems, 75% had motor difficulties, 86% had problems with regulation of activity level, and 50% had impulsiveness. About three-quarters had symptoms compatible with mild or severe ADHD, or had deficits in attention, motor control, and perception, indicating a considerable overlap between these disorders and high-functioning ASD in children.

In an large analysis of nine hundred forty-six twins, Reierson and colleagues assigned DSM-IV ADHD diagnoses, and measured autistic traits using the Social Responsiveness Scale. The study showed that there are clinically significant elevations of autistic traits in children meeting diagnostic criteria for ADHD. These findings confirm results in earlier studies . Santosh and Mijoovic which found children with ADHD had elevated levels of impairment in all three autistic symptom domains, namely social deficits, communication and stereotyped behaviors. Clark et al found 65-80% of parents of children with ADHD reported difficulties in social interaction and in communication . So the presence of autistic traits in children with ADHD appears common .

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