I often have parents say to me that their child has reading difficulties and they wonder if there is any other cause apart from Dyslexia known as a Specific Learning Disorder in Reading. There are many reasons that your child may have reading difficulties that may be unrelated to having a Specific Learning Disorder. Firstly, assuming that there is no eyesight or hearing issues or developmental delays that may affect their ability to read, there are a number of other factors that may affect your child’s ability to read. Reading difficulties can occur through a lack of opportunity to learn (chronic health conditions which impact upon school attendance) which negatively impacts upon your child’s ability to engage in successful reading programs. Reading motivation has been demonstrated through research to negatively affect your child’s ability to read, which is often cyclical in nature. In other words, your child is likely to lack motivation to read if it seems too challenging and therefore this can negatively impact attempts to improve reading ability. In this situation, careful consideration is required to determine your child’s areas of interest and what will assist their motivation to read.
There are a number of psychological disorders that can also negatively impact upon a child’s ability to read. When children present for a psycho-educational assessment they sometimes are suffering learning difficulties known as a Language Disorder. These children often have difficulties with reading as a consequence of difficulties understanding language or difficulties with speech which interfere with how they remember words they have just read.
In a different way Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder can affect a child’ ability to read. Firstly, ADHD can co-occur with a Specific Learning Disorder (Dyslexia) although it can also be diagnosed alone. In the latter a child’s reading difficulties may relate entirely to your child’s difficulties with maintaining focus or attention on a what they are reading. In other words, they may have the ability but struggle to stay focused on the word reading for any significant period resulting in them falling behind their peers if not treated.
Alternatively, a child that has significant Intelligence difficulties such as a child with an Intellectual Disability may also have reading difficulties as a consequence of a more global learning delay across academic, social and adaptive (life skills) areas.
Therefore, it is essential that as a parent or carer of your child you are aware of the reasons for your child’s reading difficulties so that the appropriate support can be provided such as a child may benefit from consulting with a Speech Therapist if they have a Speech or Language Disorder. Lastly, a thorough Psycho-educational assessment can provide a detailed understanding of the reasons that your child has reading difficulties and recommendations to assist the reading ability.