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When you hear people use the terms, co-occurrence or co-morbidity, they are talking about what I call the dyslexic sisters.  Yep, who knew dyslexia had sisters.  They can be quite disruptive if left by themselves with little to no attention.  Once your child is identified with dyslexia you may feel a sense of relief that you now know and can make a plan as to how to best help your child.  But, you may not be expecting that dyslexia has sister diagnoses too.  I know we didn’t.  

Let’s start with a few definitions.

Co-exist is to have something occur at the same time or same place. Co-occur is to occur simultaneously. Comorbid is relating to a medical condition that occurs with one another.

The Dyslexia Sisters

In this episode, Nicole shares 7 dyslexia sisters.

  1. Dysgraphia
  2. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  3. Dyscalculia
  4. Stress and Anxiety
  5. Auditory Processing Disorder
  6. Sensory Processing Disorder
  7. Executive Functioning Deficits
  1. Dysgraphia –  Dysgraphia is a specific learning disability that affects how easily children acquire written language and how well they use written language to express their thoughts.

We see this at home when our daughter has to write responses to her homework.  It takes her a little longer to process what she wants to say and then to physically write it out.  We have found a few pencils that help with writing – www.dyslexiamomlife.com/dyslexiaresources

  1. ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) – Is described as inattentive, hyperactive, or combined inattentive and hyperactive, some treat ADHD with medication, ADHD can make it difficult for children to concentrate and stay focused on a task.
  2. Dyscalculia – a challenge with math.  It runs in families and how the brain structured and functions.  https://www.understood.org/articles/en/what-is-dyscalculia
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  1. Stress and Anxiety – Stress is our body and brain’s reaction to situations that may cause us harm. Your child will regularly be confronted with tasks that are extremely difficult or at least she may perceive the task to be difficult.  Our body often responds to bad stress with a fight or flight to protect itself.  Anxiety is often described as a state of worry about what might be – stress is a reaction to what is. Both trigger the same chemical reaction reactions in the brain.
  1. Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) – problems in how the brain understands speech – Here are some common signs of APD. https://www.understood.org/articles/en/understanding-auditory-processing-disorder
  • Trouble following spoken directions, especially multi-step ones
  • Often asking people to repeat themselves or saying “Huh?” or “What?”
  • Trouble following a conversation, especially if there are multiple speakers or lots of background noise
  • Being easily distracted by background noise or sudden, loud noises
  • Trouble remembering details of things that are read or spoken
  • Trouble with reading or spelling, which require processing sounds
  • Taking longer to respond when someone speaks
  • Trouble knowing where sounds/speech is coming from
  1. Sensory Processing Disorder is described as having trouble managing information that comes in through the senses. There are two types of sensory processing challenges, and many kids experience a mix of the two. One is oversensitivity (hypersensitivity). This leads to sensory avoiding — kids avoid sensory input because it’s too overwhelming. The other is undersensitivity (hyposensitivity). This causes kids to be sensory seeking — they look for more sensory stimulation.

Sensory overload can lead to sensory meltdowns. These are very different from tantrums because they’re out of the child’s control.

Here are some other signs you might see in your child:

  • Is easily overwhelmed by people and places
  • Seeks out quiet spots in noisy, crowded environments
  • Is easily startled by sudden noises
  • Is bothered by bright light
  • Refuses to wear itchy or otherwise uncomfortable clothing
  • Avoids touching people or hugging them
  • Has a strong reaction to the texture or smell of certain foods

Sensory Seeking

Kids who are undersensitive to sensory input have the opposite situation. They often have a need for movement. And they may seek out input like spicy or sour tastes and physical contact and pressure. https://www.understood.org/articles/en/understanding-sensory-processing-issues

Here are some other signs you might see in your child at different ages:

  • Constantly touches objects
  • Plays roughly and takes physical risks
  • Has a high tolerance for pain
  • Often squirms and fidgets
  • Is constantly on the move
  • Invades other people’s personal space
  • Often gets distracted or feels anxious
  • Is clumsy and uncoordinated
  • Refuses to try new foods and has a very limited diet of preferred foods
  • Gets upset about small changes in routine or environment and avoids trying new things
  1. Executive Functioning Deficits – Does your child struggles with school (homework, trouble staying on-task, disorganized, problems with time management, avoidant, resistant, forgetful, overwhelmed, etc.), they probably struggle with Executive Function.  Seth Perler, EF Coach, defines EF -“In simplest terms, Executive Function means the ability to get stuff done (homework, writing a paper or cleaning a room, etc.).” In other words, to “execute​” complex tasks through to completion. https://sethperler.com/executive-function-holy-grail/ 

These are just some of the dyslexia sisters.  You will want to have a tribe/team around your child to support all of the co-occurrences. 


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