What Is Social Dyslexia?

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  • Written By: Stephany Seipel
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 18 October 2019
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Social dyslexia or Asperger syndrome is a developmental disorder in the autism spectrum. Children with social dyslexia tend to have difficulty forming peer relationships. They are often physically uncoordinated and tend to fixate on a narrow range of interests. Many socially dyslexic children benefit from behavioral therapy, medication and social skills training.

Most parents notice the symptoms before the child starts school. These children do not interact well with their peers. Young children might not show interest in playing with others. They do not always understand sarcasm or humor, and they often have difficulty picking up on non-verbal cues, such as body language. Some children also avoid eye contact.

They are often articulate and can possess large vocabularies, but they might talk in a flat, monotone voice with little intonation or expression. Some children speak in a formal, textbook-like style. Children with Aspergers syndrome often appear to have difficulty empathizing with others. They might not react well to changes in their daily routine.

Children with social dyslexia often have delayed motor skill development. These children sometimes have an unusual, bouncy way of walking. They might have illegible handwriting. Some children also have difficulty cutting with scissors, throwing or catching a ball, correctly using playground equipment, or riding a bicycle.


Although they might talk a great deal, these children often have limited interests. Many fixate on one topic such as baseball cards, dinosaurs or a particular television show. These children can carry on knowledgeable one-sided lectures about their chosen subject, but there is very little give-and-take in their conversations with others.

Doctors did not know what caused social dyslexia as of 2011. They suspected that it might have something to do with genetics or with changes in the brain's structure. Professionals did not believe, however, that this disorder was a result of the child's environment or social situation. Boys are usually at higher risk than girls.

Health care professionals from different fields work together to diagnose social dyslexia. They might evaluate the child's speech and his or her ability to solve problems, or observe the child while he or she is playing or interacting with others. Children who are diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome cannot be cured, but early intervention often helps them learn the unwritten rules of interacting with others. Some medications can help children control their repetitive actions and might lower their stress levels. Cognitive behavioral therapy also helps children cope with social demands and lessens behavioral problems, such as outbursts and obsessions.


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Post 8

@myharley - I don't know if verbal skills have much to do with a social dyslexia diagnosis or not.

My niece was diagnosed with this and she never stops talking! When she is doing all of this talking, she is usually fixated on one thing though, and it can be hard to get her to concentrate on anything else.

The biggest thing that tipped my sister off was when she had a difficult time interacting with other kids her age. It seemed like she was always in her own little world, and that is where she was the happiest and most content.

This is something she will always struggle with, but she has a great teacher at school and is learning appropriate ways of interacting with others.

Her parents are also involved in a support group that helps them learn better ways to cope and parent.

Post 7

I know two people who have Asperger's syndrome and both of them are boys. I find it interesting that this is something that boys struggle with more than girls.

I wonder if it has anything to do with most girls being more verbal than boys? Both of the boys I know started showing social dyslexia symptoms before they started school.

Even though this is a higher end on the autism spectrum, it is still something that is hard on the child and every one else in the family.

Before this was diagnosed, their behavior was hard to understand and deal with. They can still be very difficult to deal with, but at least the parents know why.

If they are given the right tools and training, it can make life for everyone in the family more enjoyable.

Post 6

@ceilingcat - You're right, some people with autism have significantly "worse" symptoms than people with social dyslexia. As the article stated, there is an autism spectrum. Not everyone with autism or social dyslexia exhibits the same symptoms. Some patients have more severe symptoms than others.

Anyway, I feel like Asperger's and autism have been publicized a lot in the last few years, and I think that's a really good thing. Hopefully the increased awareness will increase funding and eventually find some kind of cure for these disorders.

Post 5

@Azuza - I remember that show. If I'm remembering correctly, the child was able to get a lot of help. He had both a therapist and a behavioral aid that did him a lot of good.

Even though social dyslexia can make a child's life more difficult, as the article said, you can take steps to help the child learn to cope better.

Personally, I would prefer to have a child with Asperger's than one with regular autism. At least a child with social dyslexia will interact with you, to a certain point! From what I understand, some children with autism aren't able to interact with others at all.

Post 4

I've heard of Asperger's syndrome before, but I've never heard it called social dyslexia. That name makes a lot of sense though, because a lot of the symptoms of Asperger's involve difficulty with social interaction.

To be honest, I don't actually know anyone who has Asperger's myself. Most of my experience with Asperger's is from television shows. There is a show I enjoyed watching that came out in about 2009 that featured a character with Asperger's. The show was called Parenthood, and one of the children had Asperger's.

From the way the show portrayed this illness, it looked like it would be really difficult to deal with for parents. Imagine trying to parent a child who could barely relate to you and wasn't very interested in interacting with you!

Post 3

@burcidi-- I can't say for sure, but I do think that you would still be able to benefit from cognitive behavior therapy if you feel that you are having problems in this area. I don't think there is a specific age to be diagnosed or to seek treatment.

@ysmina-- I completely agree with your comment about school systems. I actually think that there is a lot more help and options for children with social dyslexia than there used to be. Sometimes even parents are not aware that their child has dyslexia which is a problem.

Universities are very good about this though. Every university has disability services and will do their best to support students with any learning disabilities and to make courses a more fair ground for them. I feel that individuals with social dyslexia avoid asking for help even though they realize that something is wrong. Sometimes the biggest challenge is demanding assistance when it's needed.

Post 2

My nephew has social dyslexia and he's 20 years old right now. Before knowing him, I thought that dyslexia is just a learning disability but I know now that there is a lot more to it.

I actually don't think that it's a learning disability because my nephew is able to learn. In fact, he's one of the most intelligent and well taught people I know despite his young age. It's just that it takes him a lot longer to learn than the rest of us. I think that's why he's never liked going to school or being around other people because people always compare him with themselves and judge him because of it.

He's been home schooled

since he was 11 and he has done so much better at home because he is wonderful at learning on his own. His parents have also been very supportive and understanding of him and that has taken off a lot of pressure and stress that was there when he went to school.

He's now getting ready to start college courses and I'm very proud of him. I wish more people in society knew about social dyslexia and I wish that the public school system would be more accommodating to children with social dyslexia.

Post 1

I think I have social dyslexia, although I was never diagnosed. I've had many of symptoms since I was young. I've never been good at making friends and I had a really tough time in primary and secondary school. I was always behind and my teachers hated reading my homework because they could never read it. I have the worst handwriting ever and it doesn't help that I can't spell at all. I'm also very bad at math.

I suppose I could still get tested but I'm in my thirties and I don't really see the point of getting diagnosed now. I'm lucky because I have a decent job and I've learned to live this way. I don't know what benefit medicine or therapy would have for me at this point.

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