Teaching students early literacy skills: Five resources for teens with dyslexia

Medically reviewed by Nikki Ciletti, M.Ed, LPC
Updated January 4, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

The word "dyslexia" is made up of two Greek words: “dys,” meaning difficulty, and “lexis,” which refers to language or words. According to the American Psychiatric Association, dyslexia is a learning disorder that affects a person’s ability to write, read, or comprehend written words. It is commonly diagnosed in childhood, but anyone of any age can have the disorder. For teenagers experiencing distress from dyslexia, finding support can be vital to managing it. Early intervention is crucial to successfully living with dyslexia. There are numerous resources for dyslexic teens to take advantage of, five of which are detailed below.

There are resources available for individuals with dyslexia

Resources for teenagers with dyslexia

For dyslexic students and teenagers, life can be complicated. Not knowing where to turn when you are struggling with this disorder can be disheartening. The following resources may empower students with dyslexia to learn more about the condition, discover new ways to manage its impacts, and ultimately feel less alone.                    

1. International Dyslexia Association

The International Dyslexia Association, or the IDA, is one of the most reliable portals of information available for individuals with dyslexia. It can also be a great resource for caretakers of dyslexic children as well. The IDA provides consistently updated information and practical advice about different aspects of the disorder, success stories of those who overcame challenges related to dyslexia, and a questionnaire that you can use for a preliminary dyslexia self-assessment before visiting a professional, such as a speech-language pathologist. The organization also holds global conferences featuring professionals and individuals with dyslexia and is a pioneer in medical research on this learning disorder.

2. National Center for Learning Disabilities

This national resource encompasses information and aid for different types of learning disabilities. Its aims include advocating for a society that is inclusive of people with all kinds of challenges, including learning difficulties. The National Center for Learning Disabilities is focused on improving social, emotional, and academic situations for those with learning disabilities. 

3. The American Speech-language-Hearing Association (ASHA)

Of all the challenges that people with dyslexia face, communication is perhaps the most central. ASHA is an organization focused on helping individuals with learning disabilities improve their communication skills through professional intervention and speech therapy. Their mission is to make effective communication, which they view as a basic human right, “achievable for all.”

4. The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity

Having dyslexia or any other learning disorder has nothing to do with a lack of intelligence, motivation, or creativity. In fact, learning disorders can even inspire out-of-the-box thinking. The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity (YCDC) seeks to increase awareness about dyslexia and the creative abilities of those with the disorder. They use extensive research to help children and adults alike reach their full creative potential. YCDC also spreads awareness about dyslexia to promote greater understanding within society and tell success stories of those with the disorder who have accomplished significant milestones in their lifetime. 

5. TeenCounseling

Some individuals may prefer to find support from a professional as they learn how to manage life with dyslexia. Teenagers with the disorder might find speaking to a licensed mental health counselor to be helpful. In these cases, TeenCounseling can be a valuable resource. TeenCounseling is an online therapy platform that connects qualified counselors to individuals who may find guidance in managing their mental health to be helpful. Since conditions such as anxiety and depression can occur alongside dyslexia, it’s important that concerns are addressed as they arise. 

How prevalent is dyslexia?

There are many kinds of learning disabilities related to speech or spatial recognition, but dyslexia is the most common and most researched learning disorder. Understanding dyslexia and its prevalence is essential to addressing the concerns of dyslexic kids and those living with the condition. 

Two of the most common symptoms found in people with dyslexia are trouble maintaining a fast pace while reading fluently and struggling to spell words without errors, even if the words are common parts of their vocabulary. Many patterns can be found in mistakes made because of dyslexia, like reversing similar letters, confusing the spellings of similar-sounding words, and other issues related to decreased phonological awareness. About 15% of the U.S. population lives with dyslexia; however, the number could be much larger. Many people may refrain from being tested for dyslexia due to the stigma that may surround learning difficulties. 

What causes dyslexia?

While research on dyslexia is still limited, studies have shown that its causes are linked with differences in the parts of the brain that are involved in language and writing skills and processing. Brain imaging studies have highlighted differences in the brain between people with dyslexia and those who do not have the disorder. These areas are also involved with comprehending different sounds in word pronunciations and recognizing written words and shapes.

Possible risk factors for dyslexia, according to research, could be related to genetics, making it a hereditary disorder that can be passed on from parents to their offspring. Premature birth can be a leading cause of dyslexia, as can exposure to neonatal dangers such as drugs, alcohol, nicotine, or other substances that can affect a child’s brain development.

Dyslexia is not a disorder that disappears or lessens with age. Children, teenagers, and adults are all at risk for developing it. However, the presentation may differ for different age groups, especially if the person is assessed by a professional from an early age. People with dyslexia struggle with reading, writing, and other literacy skills. For this reason, dyslexia is often first diagnosed in younger kids who are just beginning to learn these skills. 

Getty/Xavier Lorenzo

What are the signs and symptoms of dyslexia?

Some symptoms of dyslexia are more obvious than others, and can include:

  • Late onset of speech in children
  • Difficulty learning new sounds or pronouncing words clearly
  • Difficulty learning or remembering names, numbers, and rhymes 
  • Poor spelling
  • Low reading comprehension
  • Slower synthesis of reading
  • Slower reading pace, impaired reading skills, or writing speed
  • Problems differentiating between similar letters or words
  • Difficulty forming sentences or recalling words
  • Problems with learning unfamiliar words or a foreign language
  • Trouble remembering orders or sequences
  • Mispronunciation of common or newly encountered words

Navigating life with dyslexia

People with dyslexia are often of average or above-average intelligence, so a dyslexic child generally does not need to be placed in a self-contained special education class for struggling readers. However, resources and professionals that can help make the lives of people with dyslexia more manageable are available, including the use of special methods for teaching students with dyslexia that can involve assistive technology tools. It is important for teachers and other practitioners to be a learning ally for people with dyslexia and support students with dyslexia when they navigate the unique challenges they may experience. Additionally, leading dyslexia experts encourage teachers to remember that specific learning disabilities, including dyslexia, can often be effectively managed. 

People who live with dyslexia might take a little longer to grasp certain topics and can require additional attention from caregivers or teachers. Dyslexia is often first noticed by a child’s teacher when they observe certain signs such as below-average reading fluency, impaired letter writing, poor word recognition, difficulty rhyming words, and trouble with spelling. Appropriate instruction from educators with experience teaching kids with dyslexia can help children with dyslexia attain their expected level of reading proficiency for their age. If such attention is not available for them, their learning could be impaired and they may remain a struggling reader into adulthood. This makes dyslexia awareness an important element of early childhood education. 

The effects of dyslexia can severely affect a person’s self-esteem and behavior and might prompt other comorbid disorders such as anxiety or depression. Especially in children with dyslexia, it is important to watch out for markers such as extreme shyness, a very quiet demeanor, or withdrawal from family, friends, and other kids.

Diagnosis and treatment for dyslexia

Diagnosis of dyslexia involves comprehensive evaluations by professionals in schools or clinics. Individuals who can conduct such a diagnosis include clinical psychologists, neuropsychologists, or school psychologists.

A treatment plan can be devised according to the individual patient’s information, background, environment, age, and other social factors. Often, treatment focuses on improving a person’s educational outcomes by employing techniques such as systematic phonics training, reading instruction, and the use of audiobooks to help the patient with reading comprehension and speed, speech, spelling accuracy, and understanding of letters, words, and numbers.

Early intervention can be key to making it easier to live with dyslexia and improving academic success and other life skills for children. Since dyslexia is so common, there are many free resources, practical techniques, and support groups available for children, teenagers, and adults who are living with the condition. 

There are resources available for individuals with dyslexia

How online therapy can help

If you or a loved one is facing mental health challenges as a result of a learning disorder like dyslexia, online therapy could be a helpful option to consider. You can connect with a qualified therapist who understands learning disabilities and how they might affect your life. 

The ability to schedule an appointment at a time that is convenient for you may make it easier to prioritize tasks in your daily life. This situation may be especially true for teenagers, who can still complete homework assignments, study for tests, and enjoy extracurriculars while receiving therapy. The potentially reduced flexibility of in-person appointments might create stress in having to choose between priorities, but online therapy can often remove that barrier to care.

Online therapy has shown particular effectiveness in treating adolescents who experience depressive and anxiety symptoms, which could be related to challenges with dyslexia. After reviewing the efficacy of 12 depression and anxiety programs for adolescents with anxiety and/or depression, researchers discovered that online interventions can be effective in improving symptoms

Therapist reviews

Working alongside a mental health professional can be the difference between successfully managing the stress of dyslexia and struggling to keep up. Here’s what one user had to say about their experience with the trained professionals at Teen Counseling:

“Natasha is a great counselor and does her job with ease. She has helped me with stress, anxiety, and friendship issues. She is an amazing counselor just to talk to. She is very comforting and puts lots of effort into an individual. Before I had this time with her, I was probably in the worst place that I could ever be. It was to the point where I couldn’t sleep because I was too worried about my future. I was also very stressed about school at the time. I didn’t want my marks to drop or my parents to think of me as a failure. In just one month, Natasha has changed me completely. I can sleep properly, I know how to deal with stress and anxiety and I have lots of techniques for these types of situations. She is such a great counselor to talk to if you need help with stress, anxiety, or anything at all. I rate Natasha a 10/10 because of how much effort she puts into changing you for the better.”


Dyslexia is characterized by difficulty reading, writing, or using language. However, not all children who read slowly or have trouble with words have this condition, and only a qualified doctor, psychologist, educational researcher, or other specialist can diagnose it. Children diagnosed with dyslexia often benefit from receiving specialized help tailored to the difficulties they are experiencing. If you have dyslexia, an online therapist can be a steady source of emotional support as you learn strategies to overcome the difficulties associated with this condition.

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