Dyslexia, Anxiety, and Behavioral Problems: An Overlooked Connection

One aspect of dyslexia that receives little attention is that the challenges of dyslexia predispose children to anxiety and behavioral changes. Sometimes anxiety and behavioral problems may surface in a young child after starting school but before any of the various symptoms of dyslexia are noticed. In cases of undiagnosed dyslexia, anxiety and other attendant behavioral problems can often overshadow the underlying cause.

Child with Anxiety small

To be clear, not all dyslexics are alike. There are varying degrees and areas of involvement. In addition, dyslexia has many sibling conditions like dyscalculia, dysgraphia, dyspraxia, and dyspraxia of speech (see list below). Of course, not all children with anxiety or behavioral issues have dyslexia, but many do, so there are certain symptoms that should be noted and investigated. For dyslexia awareness month I wanted to share one of my recent articles, Is Dyslexia the Root of Your Child’s Anxiety and Behavioral Problems, published August 16, 2017, in MD Monthly.

Check out the article, and if you observe any of the traits or tendencies described in the article in your child or student, don’t wait—talk to your child’s physician about next steps to get your child the help he or she needs.

Lesser-known sibling conditions of dyslexia:

  • Dyscalculia: trouble with math, numbers, sequencing, sense of direction, and time management
  • Dysgraphia: illegible handwriting or printing, incompletely written words or letters, poor planning of space [running out of room], strange contortions of body or hand position while writing, struggle or inability to take notes, which requires thinking, listening, and writing simultaneously
  • Dysphonia: difficulty differentiating and interpreting the different sounds of spoken words
  • Dyspraxia of speech: misspeaking words, and/or halting speech. This aspect of dyslexia is because the brain has problems planning to move the body parts [e.g., lips, jaw, tongue] needed for speech. The child knows what he or she wants to say, but his/her brain has difficulty coordinating the muscle movements necessary to say those words)
  • Dyspraxia: an issue that involves the whole brain, affecting functions such as gross [large] muscle movements and coordination, fine motor skills [pen grip, unclear hand dominance, trouble fastening clothes and tying shoes, difficulty writing on the line on paper], clumsy, accident-prone behavior due to proprioceptive challenges [telling where the body is in space], trouble telling right from left, and erratic, impulsive, or distracted behavior

To access my previous dyslexia-related blogs and articles, check out my Dyslexia Articles page.

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