Disorientation in Dyslexia

Updated: Apr 5

Most people with Dyslexia think in pictures rather than words. They are nonverbal thinkers and often turn what people say into pictures or movies in their minds. This can be tricky when in school because most of learning is done with written words.


Disorientation is a temporary state of confusion. In people with Dyslexia, disorientation is triggered when they cannot quickly and easily produce a mental image of a word they encounter. For example, the word cat can be clearly and easily produced. A person with Dyslexia can be quite detailed in their imagery. However, the word the is not quite as easy to picture. When people with Dyslexia stumble upon this word while reading, it interrupts their imaging process and causes disorientation.


So what happens during the disorientation? People with Dyslexia have a unique ability to think multidimensionally and are able to see objects from various perspectives. They are naturally inclined (and often do this without knowing) to try to see the written word in different ways - forwards, backwards, sideways, above, and below - in order to derive meaning and create an appropriate visual image for the word. However, this process ends up causing more confusion and often ends with frustration with reading.


Disorientation in reading most commonly shows up as:

  • letter reversals, such as the letters b and d

  • word omission; this typically occurs with smaller words such as a, the, and for

  • word substitution, such as saying the word cat instead of kitten

  • slow, laborious reading.


What do you notice about your child's reading? Do they show signs of disorientation? If you are a person with Dyslexia, what have you noticed about your own reading?

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