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The Importance Of Identifying Co-occurring Conditions With Dyslexia

Co-occurring Conditions With Dyslexia

In order to fully support a child with dyslexia, being aware of conditions that frequently co-occur is essential. Comorbidities may exacerbate a child’s dyslexia or even mask some of the reading challenges the child has. In contrast to outdated methods of assessment, a greater emphasis on considering the full spectrum of co-occurring developmental disorders is replacing a focus on diagnosing dyslexia as a standalone condition. This more holistic approach is welcome, as identifying additional learning and behavioral obstacles can make addressing both dyslexia and its comorbidities more effective.

Detecting Dyslexia And More

The observations of parents and early childhood educators with regards to a child’s development and behaviors may be the first indicators of dyslexia, and the same holds true for other learning difficulties. While profound physical delays and disorders may be the easiest to spot, indicators of learning difficulties usually present early signs to alert caregivers.

To arrive at a more precise diagnosis, however, systematic and professional evaluations are required. Standardized reading and language assessments, like the Tests of Dyslexia (TOD™) can flag difficulties that may signal the existence of or potential for reading disorders. Independent of these dyslexia evaluations, each of the comorbidities will require their own condition-specific assessments.

Dyslexia’s Challenging Companions: Co-occurring Disorders

A child’s performance at certain tasks or observed behaviors can be open to a variety of interpretations, and this uncertainty makes differentiating one disorder from another more difficult. As a starting point, educators should keep in mind the conditions most often seen alongside dyslexia. The most common of these include the following:

  • ADHD
  • Autism
  • Dyscalculia and dysgraphia
  • Developmental language disorder (DLD)
  • Dyspraxia
  • Anxiety
  • Behavioral disorders such as ODD
  • Physical disabilities such as deafness

Some researchers believe that instead of being classified as discrete conditions, dyslexia and the other developmental challenges listed above actually represent a constellation of symptoms of one or more development disorders that need further differentiation or re-classification.

The interrelationship between dyslexia and comorbidities such as those named above can make treating any one of them more difficult. On the other hand, recognizing and proactively addressing aggravating conditions along with reading difficulties can increase the chance of improvement in each condition.

Why Considering Comorbidities Is So Important

Tailoring interventions so that they are maximally effective depends on recognizing how a child’s dyslexia interacts with other learning or psychological challenges. To understand why, consider two hypothetical children who appear to have very similar reading difficulties. Although their struggles might superficially resemble one another, suppose that each has a different constellation of underlying conditions.

An evaluation too heavily or exclusively focused on the similarities in the pupils’ dyslexia might suggest they would respond equally well to similar interventions. However, an approach that might work well for one child might fail the other if it overlooks or shortchanges support for co-occurring conditions.

Careful assessment can help professionals differentiate dyslexia from similar or related conditions and build a learning support plan specific to the individual child. To do this, check out companies like WPS, whose dyslexia assessments and tools are readily available today.

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