Is Poor Working Memory a Sign of Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a learning disorder that affects the way people process language, particularly when it comes to reading and writing. While poor reading and writing skills are commonly associated with dyslexia, there are also other cognitive challenges that individuals with dyslexia may face. One such challenge is poor working memory. In this blog post, we will explore the relationship between dyslexia and working memory, discussing what working memory is, how it is related to dyslexia, and how it can impact individuals with this learning disorder.

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1. Understanding Working Memory

Working memory is a cognitive function that allows us to temporarily store and manipulate information in our minds while we complete tasks. It involves the ability to hold information in our memory for short periods of time, manipulate that information, and use it to guide our actions. Working memory is crucial for tasks such as following instructions, problem-solving, and reading comprehension.

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2. The Link Between Dyslexia and Working Memory

Research has shown a clear link between dyslexia and poor working memory skills. Many individuals with dyslexia struggle with working memory tasks, such as remembering and processing information in real-time. These difficulties can significantly impact their ability to learn and perform certain tasks, especially those that require strong working memory skills.
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3. Working Memory Challenges in Individuals with Dyslexia

  1. Difficulty with Phonological Awareness. Phonological awareness refers to the ability to identify and manipulate the sounds within words. Individuals with dyslexia often struggle with this skill, which is closely tied to working memory. They may have trouble remembering and manipulating sounds in their mind, making it difficult for them to decode words and understand the relationship between sounds and letters.
  2. Issues with Reading Comprehension. Reading comprehension relies on the ability to hold information in working memory while simultaneously processing new information. Individuals with dyslexia often struggle to retain information in their working memory while reading, making it challenging for them to understand and remember what they have read.
  3. Difficulty Following Instructions. Working memory plays a vital role in following multi-step instructions. Individuals with dyslexia may have difficulty remembering and organizing the steps involved in a task, leading to confusion and mistakes. This can affect their performance in academic settings as well as everyday tasks.
  4. Poor Spelling Skills. Working memory deficits can also impact spelling abilities. Individuals with dyslexia may have trouble remembering the correct spelling of words, as they struggle to hold and manipulate the necessary phonological information in their working memory.

4. Strategies for Improving Working Memory in Individuals with Dyslexia

Fortunately, there are strategies that can help individuals with dyslexia improve their working memory skills:

  1. Chunking Information. Breaking down complex information into smaller, manageable chunks can make it easier for individuals with dyslexia to remember and process.
  2. Visual Aids. Utilizing visual aids such as charts, diagrams, or mind maps can help individuals with dyslexia visualize and organize information, reducing the load on their working memory.
  3. Mnemonic Devices. Mnemonic devices are memory techniques that help individuals remember information through associations or patterns. These can be particularly helpful for individuals with dyslexia who struggle with memorization.
  4. Multisensory Learning. Engaging multiple senses during learning can enhance memory retention. Incorporating visual, auditory, and kinesthetic elements into learning activities can support individuals with dyslexia in strengthening their working memory.
  5. Regular Practice. Consistent practice of working memory tasks can help improve this cognitive function over time. There are various online resources and apps specifically designed to target working memory skills.

5. Seeking Professional Help

If you suspect that you or someone you know has dyslexia or struggles with working memory, it is essential to seek professional help. Educational psychologists or specialists can conduct assessments to determine the presence of dyslexia and provide tailored interventions to address both reading difficulties and working memory deficits.


Poor working memory is indeed a sign of dyslexia. The challenges individuals with dyslexia face in holding and manipulating information in their minds can significantly impact their ability to learn and perform tasks that require strong working memory skills. However, with appropriate support, strategies, and interventions, individuals with dyslexia can improve their working memory abilities and mitigate the impact of this learning disorder on their daily lives.

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