Dyslexia and Fatigue

Why is it that some students with dyslexia yawn so much when they are reading and spelling? Why do they yawn during anything that involves these activities, such as school, dyslexia tutoring and dyslexia treatment? Parents of children with dyslexia often ask me this question. They may observe that their child is in a completely alert state, but once they are asked to start reading or spelling, they suddenly seem tired. Dyslexia tutors, and anyone who works in dyslexia treatment or dyslexia tutoring, tends to notice this issue. The reason why students with dyslexia yawn a lot is something that I like to call “word fatigue”. This isn’t an official term, but a phrase I started using after observing this phenomenon.

For a child with dyslexia, reading and spelling can be exhausting activities. To read a few pages, or even a paragraph or two, they often have to dedicate a great amount of focus and energy. The same focus and energy are required when they are spelling. As a result of this effort, the child may become tired and start yawning. This does not mean that the child is lazy, not paying attention, or lacking in focus; rather, it simply means that reading and spelling are still tiring activities for them. Additionally, this yawning should not be taken as an indicator of the student being bored. Quite often, the child may be enjoying what they are doing, but reading and spelling still cause them to become fatigued.

Is there a solution for all this fatigue and yawning? After all, if you are a teacher, parent, or dyslexia tutor, you may find that all of this yawning is a bit of a distraction. The only effective, long-term solution for this issue of dyslexia fatigue is to help the child make progress with their reading and spelling. When a child with dyslexia receives the instruction that they need from a dyslexia tutoring and dyslexia treatment program, reading and spelling will start to be easier for them. Eventually, as they make more and more progress, reading and spelling will not tire them out so much, and the yawns will lessen or disappear completely.

In the short term, there are also techniques that you can use to help a student with dyslexia remain alert. You can intersperse breaks involving physical activity with activities involving reading and spelling. You can also play reading and spelling games with a child. Even though these activities will still involve reading and spelling, the change  of pace may be enough to perk them up. We use a lot of games in our online dyslexia tutoring program, because they help reinforce everything we are teaching, and also help keep our students engaged.

24 thoughts on “Dyslexia and Fatigue”

  1. My daughter’s teacher keeps telling me my daughter yawns in class all the time. She never yawns at home, unless it’s close to bed time. Now she’s started tutoring online, and as soon as she’s on with her tutor she yawns. This article made me realize I’m not crazy lol and that her yawning makes sense. I think her teachers feel she is not getting enough sleep, but that is not the case.

    She has not officially been diagnosed with dyslexia, but her assessment with her tutor showed definite signs.

    1. My son has a very similar experience, Marnie! Now with the at-home learning, I’m seeing what his teachers have been describing.

      I’m thinking I might need to test my son for dyslexia. He has difficulty reading and spelling, so this might be the root of what’s happening.

  2. Charlotte Raines

    My son is dyslexic and with home schooling, I have noticed with anything challenging he yawns constantly, so this is really interesting. It is off putting and can feel like he’s not paying attention, so very good to have a reason why. Although it does seem to start immediately rather than after a short while…. and much worse when under any pressure.

    1. Dyslexia Connect

      Thanks for your comment, Charlotte. I’m glad that our post was helpful! Yes, for some students, the yawning may start immediately. I have observed this, as well.

      Have a great day,

  3. Thank you very much for the information! Since distance learning and the summer slide, I’ve noticed my son yawning more and more. I’m glad he’s not the only one!

  4. Hi – I picked up a book today and immediately started yawning. It made me think about dyslexia. As soon as I stopped reading I no longer yawned. I think it could be something down to how the brain has to work that much harder in order to process the words especially when it is a subject you need a lot of concentration with.

    I liked the idea of doing exercise for something else in between to give your mind a break. I do find the yawning can start to reduce after I have been reading for some time. This could be down to the brain waves settling into the new process. It’s a bit like crossing a ravine. When I can get o er the yawning it’s a lot easier to read for longer periods. In the evening when I am tired I just get put to sleep by reading even if the book is very engaging. I hope that helps in some way.

  5. I know I’m dyslexic but I never knew this was a symptom (I’m 35 too!). I’ve always wondered why I get tired so quickly when reading, and decided I’d Google it today! It explains a lot, as irritating as it is, as I love to read!

  6. I’m 30 in nursing school. Self diagnosed with Dyslexia. I’m reading with a classmate and have noticed during this entire year we’ve been studying together I yawn all the time while reading out loud. I’m not tired and it distracting to me. So I googled it and this site came up. Absolutely amazing yawning is tied to dyslexia.
    It makes me happy the parents above have had their children diagnosed. I never even knew what dyslexia was when I was working on my first degree at 18-22 yo.

  7. Hello there. I have a 9 year old daughter with a special learning disability. She is using Bartons at school to help her overcome these challenges. Today I was face timing her while she was having a story read to her and she followed along (she is doing e-learning today due to the snow). Within 35 seconds of the story I watch her eyes close and was immediately exhausted and just minutes before she was full of energy..

    Reading zaps her.

  8. Jane Patterson

    Hi I am a 62 year-old female was diagnosed with dyslexia at 37 whilst undertaking a degree.
    I have struggled with low self esteem and feel exhausted when having to read information.
    Now everything is on line …life is more difficult than ever!! Overloaded with information and lack of human contact.

    1. Dyslexia Connect

      Hi, Jane. I definitely understand! Which country do you live in? I may be able to suggest some resources. Have a great day!

  9. My son is dyslexic and yawns when reading out loud or when listening to an audiobook. It interesting to see how hard the brain works. It has taken a few years, but now he doesn’t yawn for at least 10 minutes into reading. It used to be instantaneous.

    1. Dyslexia Connect

      Thanks for your comment! That’s very interesting. Sometimes when a student’s reading starts to improve, they yawn less, because reading is less exhausting for them. Have a great day!

  10. Hi, I am 52 years old and I’ve never been tested but I have these problems..I wanted to go back to school to get my GED but could never concentrate I’m all over the place how can I find help?

    1. Dyslexia Connect

      Hi, Olivia. Thank you for your comment. It’s never too late to improve in reading and spelling. If you are interested in online dyslexia tutoring, we work with individuals of all ages, including adults. You may also find it helpful to contact the International Dyslexia Association.

  11. I have a similar challenge even as I am in high institution. Immediately I start reading expecially academic books, I start yawning and my nose starts running before I know it I will loose interest in what am reading meanwhile it is of great importance that I read. Please help!

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