Phonological Dyslexia or Auditory Dyslexia – The Most Common Type

“The atmosphere defines the environment of sound.” ~Bill Laswell

Let’s take a deeper look at a subtype of dyslexia.

It is good to understand what type of dyslexia you or a family member is dealing with.  It helps with getting the right type of reading support and it will be helpful later in life to have more fact-based expectations for language and communication.

Since this is the most common form of dyslexia, it is worth learning a little more about it.

Summary Brief

  •       Phonological Dyslexia or Auditory Dyslexia is the most common type of dyslexia.  Synonymous with dyslexia itself. 
  •       Struggle with sounding out words
  •       Inability to sound out nonsense words – example Dr. Seuss made up words – yuzz-a-ma-tuzz
  •       A brain-based disorder, caused by a neurological processing difference
  •       More auditory based processing problem
  •       In some cases, it can be acquired from a stroke, brain injury, or Alzheimer’s disease

Deluxe Definition

Phonological Dyslexia or Auditory Dyslexia is a reading disability that results in phonological impairment.

Phonological means relating to the system of contrastive relationships among the speech sounds that constitute the fundamental components of a language.  It represents a disorder of association between sounds (phonemes) and letters (graphemes).

The individual sounds of language become merged and are hard to break apart.  They may have difficulty or be unable to break words down into syllables and individual sounds.

This type of dyslexia affects the area of the brain that processes language. 

The primary center for reading and writing language appears to be in the dominant angular gyrus in the parietal lobe. Alexia (the inability to read) with agraphia (the inability to write) results from destruction of this area; exceptions to this rule do exist. Alexia without agraphia results from disconnection of the dominant angular gyrus from input from both occipital lobes. This syndrome most commonly results from an infarct in the distribution of the left posterior cerebral artery.


Phonological dyslexics can read using the whole word method.  They are not able to sound words out.  This means that once they learn a word by sight, they are able to use and read the word, but new words are very difficult to read and interpret.

Like all neuro differences, the effects of phonological dyslexia are on a continuum. No two people are exactly the same.  That also means that it is going to present differently in every person and be best addressed differently for each person.

 Symptoms of Phonological Dyslexia

  •       Difficulty with spelling
  •       Slow reading
  •       Avoiding reading activities
  •       Difficulty learning sounds made by letters and/or letter combinations
  •       Difficulty recognizing familiar words in new contexts
  •       Difficulty sounding out unfamiliar words

A person doesn’t have to have all of these symptoms present to have phonological dyslexia.  These symptoms can be present and there might be another explanation. Testing by a professional is necessary to make the distinction.

Type of Learning That Best Supports Phonological Dyslexic Readers

Almost anyone can learn to read.  How each person learns to read might be different. 

Effective intervention programs provide systematic instruction in 5 key areas:

  •       phonemic awareness
  •       phonics
  •       fluency
  •       vocabulary
  •       comprehension strategies

These programs also provide ample opportunities for writing, reading, and discussing literature.

To date the most effective learning approach for auditory dyslexia is the Orton-Gillingham approach.

6 Basic Elements:

  1.     Personalized
  2.     Multi-sensory
  3.     Structured
  4.     Cognitive
  5.     Flexible
  6.     Relationship based

Researchers have also found hyphenation to be a useful aid. Check out this website to apply the process to any word.

Continue to learn and study more about this topic.  I am always reminding myself and others this is an ever-growing field of research and researchers are always learning more about the brain and they are really curious about the neurologically different brains.

This is my main type of dyslexia. I fall into this group of people.  I never read Dr. Seuss’s books, I loved the images and hated the text, and now I know why. To this day I don’t enjoy reading scientific papers from researchers.  So many of the words I can’t sound out and I skip over them leaving me with little to no understanding of what I just read.  One of my greatest adjustment tools I use, and I used it in the writing of the article, is Microsoft Edge internet browser.  You turn on the reading feature and it does a great job of reading the website page to you.  It also makes it easier to copy the text you need for your notes.

If this is how your brain best learns to read, I highly recommend you learn more about the tools and tricks that help support navigating around the standard reading processes.

I am grateful for all of the new and emerging adaptive technology that is coming out these days.  Please share your ways of working with this type of dyslexia.



JoyGenea Schumer
Business Owner, International Neurodiversity Coach, and Speaker


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