Dyslexia in Adolescents: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Dyslexia in adolescents can complicate the learning process and lead to demotivation, low self-esteem, and insecurity. Find out how to detect it.
Dyslexia in Adolescents: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Last update: 18 November, 2021

Dyslexia in adolescents has its own characteristics that differentiate it from childhood dyslexia in terms of diagnosis and treatment. Above all, because if it hasn’t been detected in the first years of life, the difficulties are usually more severe.

This condition is part of learning disorders and is defined as difficulty reading, identifying sounds, and understanding the alphabet or words. Despite having a normal IQ, these young people encounter great obstacles when it comes to acquiring academic skills and this drastically impacts their education.

In this article, we’re going to see the causes, symptoms, and treatments aimed at improving dyslexia in adolescents.

The causes of dyslexia in adolescents

The exact cause of dyslexia in adolescents isn’t yet known, but several possible conditions are considered:

  1. Adolescent brain anatomy: This disorder may be due to structural differences in the brain, especially in the left hemisphere.
  2. Genetic factor: According to research, when parents have dyslexia, their children are 50% more likely to suffer from it.
  3. Use of Broca’s area: The brain areas related to written language and phonetics show very little activity in this disorder. For this reason, the brain looks for neurological alternatives for reading and that’s where Broca’s area comes into play, related to language and speech processing.
A mother trying to help her frustrated teen daughter with her homework.

Symptoms of dyslexia in teens

When dyslexia is diagnosed in adolescence, it’s likely that the condition went unnoticed during primary school because of the child’s abilities to compensate for their difficulties. However, when the intellectual demands increase, as they do in high school, it’s more difficult to cope with this problem and the symptoms come to light.

Some signs of dyslexia in adolescents include the following:

  • Difficulties managing and remembering tasks and work due dates. In general, these young people tend to attribute this lack of organization to poor memory or they justify themselves by saying the teacher didn’t tell them.
  • The need to read texts a few times to understand them. This is something that happens frequently and isn’t related to the complexity of the information.
  • Trouble understanding some more complex math topics, such as algebra.
  • Resistance to learning a new language, as it’s a very difficult task for them.
  • Important differences between their school performance and their performance on written tests.

If your child has any of these symptoms, they may have dyslexia. In any case, it’s important not to be alarmed and to try to analyze all the variables. For example, if the learning method they receive is the most appropriate for them or if this is related to a current social or emotional problem.

In this regard, it’s best to consult a specialist to evaluate the adolescent and help us to decipher the cause of this difficulty.

Treatment of dyslexia in adolescents

When faced with a dyslexia diagnosis, it’s important to put the following tips into practice to help your child:

  • Professional help: Both to corroborate the diagnosis and to develop the treatment plan, speech therapists, and educational psychologists can be of great help.
  • Personalized tutoring: Adolescents with dyslexia must have a specialized professional who works with them individually in order to enhance their abilities and overcome these difficulties. The exercises to be developed must include the following domains: Mathematics, concentration, memory, phonological awareness, oral and written language, and learning.
  • Multisensory Approach to Strengthen Skill Acquisition: This helps improve the adolescent’s sensory perception of listening, reading, speaking, and seeing.
  • Phonics-based reading programs: These serve to better understand the relationship between written and spoken sounds.
  • Educational audios and videos: These promote learning and reading skills. In addition, if the young person has difficulties with the acquisition of a new language, a good way to improve their learning is through audiovisual didactic content.
  • Positive Reinforcement: No matter how small their accomplishments are, young people need encouragement to take on new challenges. Avoid criticism to avoid damaging their self-esteem.
  • Motivation from real interests: If there’s a topic that your child likes best, look for books on the subject to encourage reading.
A teacher helping a teenage student with his homework.

Conclusions regarding dyslexia in adolescents

By now, you already know more about dyslexia and how to help your child if you think he or she has it. It’s important to detect it as soon as possible because if not, it can condition other areas of study and the child’s performance in general.

Working closely with school teachers is the key to diagnosing and treating these types of learning difficulties.

In the event of suspicion, the most important thing is to consult with a specialist to corroborate this condition and help your adolescent to overcome their difficulties.

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  • Baillieux, H., Vandervliet, E. J. M., Manto, M., Parizel, P- M., De Deyn, P. P. & Mariën, P. (2009). Developmental dyslexia and widespread activation across the cerebellar hemispheres. Brain and Language, 108, 122-132.
  • Dansilio, Sergio. (2009). CEREBRO Y DISLEXIA: UNA REVISIÓN. Ciencias Psicológicas3(2), 225-240. Recuperado en 03 de noviembre de 2021, de http://www.scielo.edu.uy/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1688-42212009000200011&lng=es&tlng=es.