Semantic Dyslexia symptoms classification diagnostic correction

Semantic Dyslexia ( Mechanical Reading )

Semantic dyslexia is a violation of reading comprehension and reproduction in the presence of error-free, technically competent reading. It is characterized by difficulties in comprehending and retelling the read text, inability to answer questions, guessing the nature of the reading. It is diagnosed by a speech therapist-defectologist as part of an examination of written and oral speech. Areas of correctional work include enrichment of the vocabulary, development of sound-syllabic analysis and synthesis, and the formation of ideas about syntactic connections between parts of a sentence. Here we will provide you the information about Semantic Dyslexia.

General information

Semantic dyslexia (from the Greek “semantikos” – meaning) is also called mechanical reading, because in this case there is no comprehension, comprehension of the read. The disorder occurs in both elementary, middle, and high school students. According to the latest data, about 10% of children suffer from various degrees and forms of reading disorders, among children with TNR this percentage is even higher – 22%. In this structure, semantic dyslexia is about 6-7%. It is most often found in children with general speech underdevelopment , ADHD , and mental retardation .

The reasons

The question of the nature of dyslexia remains controversial in modern speech therapy . Summarizing the various approaches, a number of etiological factors can be identified that act in isolation or in combination with each other at various stages of ontogenesis:

  • Genetic conditions. Reading disorder, including its semantic side, is often traced in parents of dyslexic children or several children in the same family. This allows us to talk about the genetic aspects of dyslexia, in particular, about the inherited features of the functioning of brain regions that provide a holistic reading process. There are separate scientific reports on the identification of “dyslexia genes” (DYX1C1 and others).
  • Biological factors. An analysis of the developmental history of children with reading disabilities indicates a significant role for biological causes. Most of them have a history of perinatal pathology , which in the residual period remains in the form of MMD . Also of importance are chronic infectious and somatic diseases suffered in early childhood, head injuries.
  • Socio-psychological factors. In the period from birth to 3 years of age, the child experiences an active development of neuropsychic functions. For the formation and differentiation of interneuronal connections, the microsocial environment is extremely important. Risk factors for semantic dyslexia during this period are a deficit of sensory sensations, a lack of verbal communication, and pedagogical neglect

Development mechanism

Research confirms that dyslexic brains function differently from normal people’s brains. In dyslexia, it “crashes” when decoding visual or auditory symbols and translating them into speech. According to modern concepts, five theories of dyslexia dominate in speech therapy, but none of them has been recognized as official today:

  1. Phonological deficit theory . Connects reading disorders with a violation of the process of assimilation and reproduction of phonemes as meaning-distinguishing units of speech.
  2. The theory of insufficient auditory information processing . It is based on the position of the inability of the individual to perceive short and rapidly changing speech sounds.
  3. The theory of insufficient visual information processing . Indicates a violation of the projection of visual stimuli perceived by retinal ganglion cells into the posterior parts of the parietal cortex.
  4. The theory of cerebellar dysfunction . Based on the frequent combination of dyslexia with motor impairments, suggests a primary role for cerebellar disorders in the difficulty of automating reading skills.
  5. Double deficit theory . Explains dyslexia by the difficulties of assimilating phonological information and synchronous extraction of images-representations and symbols (letters, numbers) from the “archive” of memory.

The core of the mechanism of semantic dyslexia is made up of the difficulties of sound and syllabic synthesis, accompanied by the problems of merging sounds into syllables, and syllables into words with their subsequent comprehension. There is also a fuzzy idea of ​​the relationships of elements within sentences, which violates the semantics of the phrase.

Symptoms of Semantic Dyslexia

The child reads individual syllables, whole words and sentences technically correctly, without errors, but he does it mechanically. When analyzing the material, he is unable to show a picture or object that denotes the word read, to explain its meaning. The dyslexic cannot retell the text read, give an answer to questions, highlight the main idea, title the text, etc. There may be attempts to guess words during the reading process.

Children with semantic dyslexia have the following difficulties:

  • syllabic reading – the inability to consistently pronounce words divided into syllables;
  • pauses between letters and syllables;
  • misunderstanding of the meanings of words, poverty of the dictionary ;
  • misunderstanding of grammatical, syntactic, logical connections between words in a sentence, between sentences in a text;
  • each word is perceived separately, without connection with others.

Of the non-speech symptoms, there is often a violation of optical-spatial functions, low attention, poor memory, slowness in performing various tasks, and underdevelopment of abstract thinking. Comorbid states in semantic dyslexia are often dyscalculia , bilingualism , hyperactivity, and dyspraxia . Adults may have problems understanding humor and phraseological units.


During school years, semantic dyslexia primarily gives rise to difficulties in schooling. Children do the worst in the main subjects – reading and their native language, although other subjects also suffer, where retelling, writing creative works, and preparing reports are required. In addition, difficulties arise with solving arithmetic problems, since students with semantic dyslexia inaccurately perceive mathematical signs and numbers. Because of these problems, students often fall into the category of incapable, lazy, unteachable.


Children with reading difficulties should be evaluated by a school speech therapist and neuropsychologist . In some cases, they may be recommended neurological and psychiatric evaluation. To diagnose semantic dyslexia, it turns out:

  • The level of development of oral speech . All components of oral speech are studied: lexical stock, grammatical categories, phonemic differentiations, syllable structure, sound pronunciation. With semantic dyslexia, the following problems are more often found: the child finds it difficult to explain the meaning of a word, choose synonyms, compose or repeat a story from a picture. The speech status of children usually corresponds to OHP or FFN .
  • The state of written speech . Using special didactic material, the child is invited to find, recognize and name letters, read syllables, words, sentences, text. Particular attention is paid to the semantic side: the ability to answer questions, retell, draw up a plan, etc. The method, technique and speed of reading are also assessed. Typical mistakes: violation of sound and syllable confusion, distortion of sound-syllable structure, misunderstanding of the essence of what was read.
  • Neuropsychological features. Within the framework of neuropsychological diagnostics , auditory and visual memory, optical-spatial gnosis, and various types of praxis are investigated. As a rule, children with semantic dyslexia demonstrate impaired motor coordination, instability of attention and memorization, and impaired spatial orientation.

Correction of semantic dyslexia

The task of speech therapy work with semantic dyslexia is to develop the skill of meaningful reading. Correction is carried out in the following areas:

  • Formation of syllabic synthesisRequired if there is a post-word reading. At this stage, the skills of fusion of sounds and syllables are practiced and automated. The material gradually becomes more complex, and the time to complete the task is reduced.
  • Refinement and expansion of the vocabulary. Increasing vocabulary is necessary for a better understanding of texts. In the classroom, new lexical topics, synonyms and antonyms, quasi-homonyms are studied.
  • Development of grammatical structure. Assumes work on inflection and word formation, the formation of the structure of the sentence, clarification of the syntactic links between the members of the sentence.
  • Work on reading comprehension. The student is asked to find a picture or make a drawing that corresponds to a word or sentence he has heard, to find a sentence in the text that an illustration is suitable for, to compose a story based on a series of plot pictures, or to lay out the pictures according to the narration. A question-and-answer form is used (answer the question yourself, find the answer in the text), retelling.

Of the special techniques at all stages, it is useful to include kinesiological exercises, neuro-gymnastics, finger games , mirror painting in classes. It is important to remember that students with semantic dyslexia are better at assimilating material based on visual and tactile perception, repeated repetition.

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