Decoding is the ability to sound out words by sound-letter correspondence and blend sounds so that written text can be recognized and interpreted. This is a key component of phonological awareness and processing, and is a foundational skill for reading.
Individuals who struggle with decoding will often make errors that are logical guesses based on context and not really reading the word. Alternately, they will rely on their memory skills, which will work for sight words and familiar text; however, if they do not have the ability to decode, then breakdowns will become very apparent when presented with new and more complex vocabulary that need to be sounded out.
When a child struggles to decode or sound out words, he/she will often demonstrate difficulty comprehending what they have read. These individuals put tremendous effort into sounding out the words, and as a result, may miss the content of the written piece.
Dyslexia is a learning disability that affects language development. It is characterized by difficulties in reading (word recognition) and writing/spelling (sound letter correspondence and sequencing sounds). The reading problem someone with dyslexia experiences, is a symptom, with its foundation in fundamental language processing difficulties. This processing issue is in the phonological (speech sounds), auditory (listening) and visual (reading/writing) domains.
Individuals with dyslexia typically have intact speech perception abilities, but some phonological problems do appear to take on a linguistic/verbal difficulty at times, which is related to incorrectly processing the language information. For example, processing and then saying/writing the word “hubbing” for “humming” (“What is that hubbing sound?”), or the word “declare” as “clare” (“I need to clare my taxes”).
The difficulties with auditory processing may also present as short term memory challenges, as these individuals may have trouble processing and then recalling the order of brief, non-speech tones when presented rapidly. As well they may experience struggles in processing rapidly changing auditory sensory input.