Reading Teacher

Understanding Different Types of Reading Disabilities and How to Support Them

Understanding Different Types of Reading Disabilities and How to Support Them

As educators, we know that every child learns differently. Some may excel at mathematics, while others struggle with reading. It's important to understand that reading disabilities are more common than you might think. According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, about 1 in 5 children have a learning or attention issue, with reading disabilities being the most common. As teachers, we have the responsibility to recognize these challenges and provide our students with the necessary tools and support to overcome them.


There are several types of reading disabilities, and each one requires a unique approach to support the student. In this article, we will explore the different types of reading disabilities and provide some strategies to help students who struggle with them.




Dyslexia is the most well-known reading disability. It is a neurological condition that affects the brain's ability to process language. Students with dyslexia may have difficulty with phonemic awareness, decoding, fluency, and comprehension. Dyslexia can be diagnosed by a licensed professional, and there are several evidence-based interventions that can help, including Orton-Gillingham, Wilson Reading System, and Lindamood-Bell.




Dysgraphia is a learning disability that affects a student's ability to write. It can make writing painful, slow, and difficult to read. Students with dysgraphia may struggle with spelling, letter formation, and spacing. To support students with dysgraphia, teachers can provide alternative ways to complete written assignments, such as using a computer or dictation software. They can also provide explicit instruction on letter formation and provide tools such as pencil grips or wide-ruled paper.




Dyscalculia is a learning disability that affects a student's ability to understand and manipulate numbers. Students with dyscalculia may struggle with basic math concepts, such as counting, adding, subtracting, and multiplying. To support students with dyscalculia, teachers can provide hands-on activities, such as manipulatives, to help students visualize math concepts. They can also provide extra time and support for math assignments and use assistive technology, such as calculators, to help students with calculations.


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)


ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can impact a student's ability to focus, stay organized, and manage time. Students with ADHD may struggle with reading comprehension, staying on task, and completing assignments on time. To support students with ADHD, teachers can provide clear and concise instructions, use graphic organizers to help with organization, and break down assignments into smaller, more manageable tasks. They can also provide movement breaks and allow for fidget toys to help students stay focused.


English Language Learners (ELLs)


Students who are learning English as a second language may struggle with reading comprehension and fluency. It's important to note that ELLs may not necessarily have a reading disability, but rather may need additional support in developing their language skills. To support ELLs, teachers can provide instruction that is tailored to their language proficiency level, use graphic organizers to help with comprehension, and provide opportunities for oral language development, such as partner reading and classroom discussions.




Reading disabilities are more common than you might think, but with the right tools and support, students can overcome these challenges. It's important for educators to understand the different types of reading disabilities and provide targeted interventions to help students who struggle. By providing alternative ways to complete assignments, using assistive technology, and providing explicit instruction, we can help students with reading disabilities reach their full potential.

Start Teaching Reading for Free Now!

Access Level 1’s four interactive stories and the accompanying supplemental resources to teach elementary students how to read. No credit card is needed. Join the 42,635 teachers and students using our reading program.