We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is Surface Dyslexia?

By C.B. Fox
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Surface dyslexia, which is also often referred to as visual dyslexia, is a characterized by a difficulty with processing written information. People with this type of dyslexia often have trouble correctly identifying letters that look the same but are oriented differently from one another or words that form other words when read backward or when the letters are reordered. It is also common for people with this disorder to have trouble with words that are not spelled phonetically. The term surface dyslexia is used to describe the appearance of this disorder rather than the reason behind it.

People with surface dyslexia can have a variety of different symptoms, all of which make it difficult for the person to read. One of the more common symptoms is a difficulty remembering or seeing the difference between letters that are made from the same basic shape, such as b, d, p and q. Though each of these four letters is distinctive, they are all made from a rounded side and a straight side twice its length. Whole words can also easily be confused by people with this type of dyslexia, especially when the letters can be reordered to form different words such as "was" and "saw."

Oftentimes, people with surface dyslexia will not retain many whole words in their memories. Most words, even those that are frequently encountered in texts, need to be sounded out carefully in order to be read correctly. Even when sounding words out, people with this type of dyslexia may have difficulty because not all the letters in the word are processed in the brain. In many cases, people with this disorder may accidentally skip over letters or even whole words when reading, in part due to an inability to keep their place in the text.

Surface dyslexia may be either developmental or acquired. People with developmental dyslexia have an irregularity in the brain that causes the disorder. This type of dyslexia may develop at any point when the brain is developing and may be formed from a problem in the physical makeup of the brain or in a problem with the synaptic connections. For those with acquired dyslexia, the cause of the disorder may be learned along with whole-word rather than phonics based reading. This type of visual dyslexia can often be overcome but it may take a lot of retraining for a person to make new reading strategies second nature.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Related Articles

Discussion Comments
By anon989773 — On Mar 22, 2015

@SteamLouis: find an Orton-Gillingham trained tutor who knows about Surface Dyslexia. It's a bit of a different approach than with phonological dyslexia.

By SteamLouis — On May 20, 2013

Does anyone here have a child with surface dyslexia? My son has just been diagnosed with it. We're not sure how to go about his education.

By bear78 — On May 20, 2013

@ankara-- If your friend doesn't have any speech problems and only has problems while reading, that's visual dyslexia.

Visual dyslexia makes words appear as though they're moving. Someone with visual dyslexia might write words with missing letters or might write letters reversed.

But those who have visual dyslexia have no problems while speaking. They can communicate with people perfectly well in contrast to regular dyslexia which also causes speech problems and difficulty in processing and understanding information. Someone with visual dyslexia only has difficulty with writing and reading.

By bluedolphin — On May 19, 2013

I have a friend with dyslexia. She has trouble reading when there is a class presentation. Apparently, there is something about different background and font colors that put her off. She can read better from paper.

Is this surface dyslexia or a different type of dyslexia?

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.