I often have parents discuss with me the confusion they feel regarding the diagnosis of a Specific Learning Disorder that their child may have and its impact on learning. One issue of potential misunderstanding is that Reading Disorder, Math’s Disorder and Written Expression Disorder are often referred to by alternative terms. For Reading Disorder, in particular, there is confusion regarding what defines disordered reading levels from a child with some reading difficulties.
The Specific Learning Disorder (with impairment in reading) is often referred to as dyslexia. A key component of the diagnosis is that the learning difficulties are unexpected since other aspects of your child’s development may appear within normal range. For a diagnosis of the disorder, a child’s reading and/or spelling accuracy must be substantially lower than their same-age peers.
If your child suffers from this disorder they are likely to have significant difficulty with word reading accuracy, reading rate or fluency (appear to struggle to get their words out) or reading comprehension (understanding what they have read). Furthermore, they may struggle to spell words accurately and may have a tendency to spell words as they sound rather than understanding the spelling rules such as spelling “right” as “rite”. Alternatively, they may also have difficulty with decoding skills such as understanding how to reproduce familiar and unfamiliar words. This often leads to your child having difficulties with reading accuracy.
There are a number of ways we can assist a child with a Specific Learning Disorder (with impairment in reading) depending on their age and readings ability.
If your child has difficulties with reading fluency, this is likely to interfere with their ability to understand what they are reading. In other words, your child is likely to be so tired from just reading the paragraph they retaining information they have read will be improbable. In this instance a useful recommendation can be to encourage your child to re-read the book, the first read through is to work out the actual words, the second read through is for understanding the story.
Alternatively, if your child suffers from reading accuracy a number of accommodations could be instigated. For example, the teacher can save your child the ordeal of having to “read aloud in class”. Ensure reading is reserved for a quiet time with the class teacher. Secondly, your child will require more time to read questions and answers when completing assignments or tests.
Lastly, a learning difficulties assessment can assist you understand your child’s reading ability and provide recommendations to assist them fulfil their reading potential. Dyslexia testing may be administered for your child in an educational psychology clinic.