Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia: What's the Difference and How Are They Treated?

Apr 01, 2023
Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia: What's the Difference and How Are They Treated?
Your child may have a learning disability. You may hear the word dyslexia, dysgraphia, or dyscalculia. Learn more about these disorders and how neurologists and therapists treat them.

Is your child having trouble in school? Has a school counselor suggested your child be tested for a learning disability? 

Three of the most common learning disabilities are dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia. All are neurological disorders that cause problems with learning. These learning disabilities have likely been present since childbirth. They become pronounced when your child enters school. 

Dr. Charles Niesen, a board-certified pediatric neurologist at AMS Neurology in Pasadena, California, diagnoses and treats children with all types of learning disabilities. Early diagnosis is key. The sooner your child receives help for a learning disability, the more they can live up to their potential. Receiving treatment before formal schooling begins is optimal. 

Following is a summary of these three common learning disabilities and the types of interventions that help manage each. 


Dyslexia is a brain-based disorder involving dysfunction in the lower frontal area of the brain that makes reading and writing very difficult. If your child has dyslexia, they have a hard time recognizing letters and matching the sounds that go with them, a basic skill needed to learn to read. They may transpose letters in words, thinking a “b” is a “d” and vice versa. 

Your child may avoid activities in preschool or school that focus on letter recognition. They might have trouble reading and writing when school begins. 

Treatment involves working with a reading specialist trained to help your child learn to read and write. Your specialist uses a structured, multi-sensory approach to help your child decode what’s on the page. 

They may teach your child to recognize letters and their sounds by using kinesthetics and touch-raised letters or color letters from a stencil. They may also employ the Orton-Gillingham method which helps your child learn which sounds go with specific letters. 

The results of Dr. Niesen’s tests of your child provide you with what you need to give to teachers and administrators when your child starts school. Your child should have a written Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) which entitles them to the assistance they need. Your child can receive individualized and small-group instruction via a reading specialist in school. 


Dysgraphia is a learning disability involving a dysfunction in the parietal lobe of the brain which impacts your child's fine motor skills. Has your child had great difficulty in learning to tie their shoes? Their early writing is likely illegible; letters aren’t formed correctly. Your child may be unable to keep their writing on the same line on lined paper. This disability affects writing, spelling, grammar, spatial perception, and writing output. 

Dr. Niesen’s diagnosis and written report helps your child when they enter school. We also refer you to an occupational therapist. Interventions for dysgraphia include occupational therapy, modification of assignments, accommodations such as gaining a copy of the teacher’s notes, and having more time on tests. 

Computers can be a boon for your child. Learning keyboard skills helps your child succeed in school.


Dyscalculia is a neurological disorder that creates difficulty for your child in learning everyday mathematics skills such as arithmetic, multiplication tables, measuring things, counting money and making change, and understanding fractions and word problems. Number sense may be impacted; your child might have trouble understanding that the number 8 is bigger than the number 6. 

Dr. Niesen provides a report explaining your child’s disability. Your child should have an IEP and access to a learning specialist trained in treating dyscalculia. Playing math-based games with your child reinforces what they learn in school. 

For expert diagnosis and treatment of pediatric learning disabilities, call our office at AMS Neurology or book an appointment online today.