Developmental reading disorder

Definition

Developmental reading disorder is a reading disability that occurs when the brain does not properly recognize and process certain symbols.

It is also called dyslexia.

Alternative Names

Dyslexia

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Developmental reading disorder (DRD), or dyslexia, occurs when there is a problem in areas of the brain that help interpret language. It is not caused by vision problems. The disorder is a specific information processing problem. It does not interfere with one's ability to think or to understand complex ideas. Most people with DRD have normal intelligence. Many have above-average intelligence.

DRD may appear with developmental writing disorder and developmental arithmetic disorder.

The condition often runs in families.

Symptoms

A person with DRD may have trouble rhyming and separating sounds that make up spoken words. These abilities seem to be important in learning to read. A child's early reading skills are based on word recognition. That involves being able to separate out the sounds in words and match them with letters and groups of letters.

Because people with DRD have difficulty connecting the sounds of language to the letters of words. They may have difficulty understanding sentences.

True dyslexia is much broader than simply confusing or transposing letters. For example, mistaking ”b” and “d."

In general, symptoms of DRD may include:

  • Difficulty determining the meaning of a simple sentence
  • Difficulty learning to recognize written words
  • Difficulty rhyming

Signs and tests

It is important for a doctor to rule out other causes of learning disabilities, especially reading disability. Emotional disorders, intellectual disability, brain diseases, and certain cultural and education factors can cause learning disabilities.

Before diagnosing DRD, the health care provider will:

  • Perform a complete medical exam, including a neurological exam
  • Ask questions about the person's developmental, social, and school performance
  • Ask if anyone else in the family has had dyslexia

Psychoeducational testing and psychological assessment may be done.

Treatment

Every person with DRD requires a different strategy. An individual education plan should be created for each child with the condition.

The following may be recommended:

  • Extra learning assistance, called remedial instruction
  • Private, individual tutoring
  • Special day classes

Positive reinforcement is important as many students with learning disabilities have poor self-esteem. Psychological counseling may be helpful.

Expectations (prognosis)

Specialized help (called remedial instruction) can help a person make big improvements in reading and comprehension.

Complications

DRD may lead to:

  • Problems in school, including behavior problems
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Reading problems that continue, which may affect job performance

Calling your health care provider

Call your health care provider if your child appears to be having trouble learning to read.

Prevention

Learning disorders tend to run in families. It is important to notice and recognize the warning signs. The earlier the disorder is discovered, the better the outcome.

Revision

Last reviewed 1/4/2013 by John Goldenring, MD, MPH, JD, Pediatrics, Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group, San Diego, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, and Stephanie Slon.

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