About Reading Disabilities, Learning Disabilities, and Reading Difficulties
By: Kathryn Drummond
About 10 million children have difficulties learning to read. The good news is that more than 90 percent of struggling readers can overcome their difficulties if they receive appropriate treatment at early ages.
Many kids struggle with reading. One estimate is that about 10 million children have difficulties learning to read. The good news is that 90 to 95 percent of reading impaired children can overcome their difficulties if they receive appropriate treatment at early ages.
7 Things to Know About the 1 in 5 with Learning and Attention Issues
How can reading difficulties be caught early?
The key is for parents and teachers to be aware of how their student or child is doing and to act immediately if they suspect a problem. Parents and teachers cannot necessarily count on a formal diagnosis as the only sign of a significant reading related difficulty.
Reading difficulties occur on a continuum, meaning that there is a wide range of students who experience reading difficulties. There are those students who are diagnosed with a reading-related disability but there is an even larger group of students (without diagnoses) who still require targeted reading assistance.
When a student has a reading-related difficulty – whether he or she has been formally identified as having a disability or not – the key is to:
Correctly determine the nature and source of a student’s difficulty
Provide targeted instruction to remediate difficulties and increase skills level
Accommodate a student’s weaknesses and build upon his or her strengths
When should a problem be suspected?
Be aware of how each child is doing. A preschool student should be checked, for example, if he or she has a much more difficult time than other students in pronouncing or rhyming words or in learning numbers, the alphabet, the days of the week, colors, or shapes.
See the articles on Literacy Milestones for more information about where children should be in their reading development. Also, see the Accomplishments in Reading table from the Snow, Burns, and Griffin (1998) book, Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children. If a student shows consistent problems with several milestones, then you may want to have him or her evaluated for possible learning or reading disabilities.
Remember that students learn differently and at different rates. Not all students will develop in the same way or at the same rate, but most students develop at a steady pace so that by the end of third grade, they are able to read grade appropriate material fluently with comprehension. It is important that a student not get too far behind in learning how to read; reading difficulties are best addressed when they are caught at a young age.
Are there some students that are more prone to reading difficulties?
Some students are more likely to develop reading difficulties than others. It is important to know about these tendencies so students can be monitored and any difficulties caught early. Students may be more likely to develop a reading difficulty if they have parents with histories of reading difficulties; if they have been diagnosed with a specific language impairment or a hearing impairment; or if they gained less knowledge or skills related to literacy during preschool years (Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998).
What is the role of teaching and instruction with regard to reading difficulties?
Good reading instruction is necessary for students to learn to read. It is also no simple task. Reading and language experts have likened teaching reading to rocket science (Moats, 1998). With so many different reading components, it can be difficult to diagnose students’ difficulties and find precisely the right techniques to remediate them. To be successful, teachers need strong and deep understanding of reading theory and practice.
When is the difference between a reading “difficulty” and a reading “disability”?
Some students struggle with reading, but do not have a diagnosed disability. These students may just lag behind their peers a bit, requiring more time to learn certain things, they may require more specialized reading instruction than has been provided, or the students may have previously received poor reading instruction. Whatever the case, these students depend on caring and insightful schools, teachers, and parents to provide them the reading help they need.
Some students are formally diagnosed with a learning disability. These students can receive special education under a federal law called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). To outline the educational goals and services that the student needs to be successful, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is developed. For students with a learning disability who struggle with reading, reading-related support and services can be included in the student’s IEP goals. According to one expert researcher, reading disabilities likely occur in at least 20 percent of the population (Shaywitz, 2003), however only about four percent of school-age students receive special education services for reading disabilities.
What is a learning disability, in general?
People with learning disabilities (LD) have difficulty learning particular skills or academic areas. Learning disabilities are not related to intelligence. They are often physiological, in that the brain of someone with LD may be wired differently than other people’s brains (though not better or worse).
How are learning disabilities and reading difficulties related?
A large percent of learning disabilities (up to 80 percent) show themselves as problems learning to read.Reading disabilities can be associated with the term dyslexia. Dyslexia refers to persistent difficulties in learning to read. A common misconception is that a person with dyslexia sees or writes letters and numbers in a reversed or backwards way. This is not the case, however.
Dyslexia refers to a broader array of reading difficulties. Dyslexia often results from difficulties with the auditory processing part of language and hinders accurate, fluent word reading. This, in turn, can result in problems with understanding what is read.
How can I help?
When a student has difficulty with reading, it can be overwhelming to teachers and emotional for both parents and students. The more that is learned about reading and the specific problem, however, the less overwhelming things will seem.
Parents and teachers can act on behalf of a student who struggles with reading by trying to pinpoint the nature and source of a student’s difficulty, by increasing skills levels, and by building upon his or her strengths.
DEALING WITH DYSLEXIA
Mumbai Mirror | Updated: Feb 20, 2020, 06:00 IST
Dealing with dyslexia
By Anindita Paul
Important life lessons and hacks from people who grapple with this disorder
Nearly 15 per cent of all students enrolled in Indian schools — 35 million children — are diagnosed as dyslexic as per the Association of India (2016 figures). It is the most common learning disability and affects an individual’s ability to read, write and spell. Despite the substantial numbers, awareness about the condition in India is woefully limited. And while a 2012 ruling by the mandates all government, private and public schools to equip themselves to handle children with various disabilities, including learning disabilities, there still exist a lack of sufficient awareness among teachers and . There is barely a supportive environment to enable dyslexic children to achieve their fullest potential. Consider also the inordinate emphasis laid on grades and academic performance during schooling years — it comes as little surprise that a dyslexia diagnosis can lead to much despair and agony for children and their parents.
At a recent conclave conducted by the Maharashtra Dyslexia Association (MDA), five men and women spoke about what living with dyslexia really entails.
Every dyslexic child is different
Radhika Ursekar, 23, psychotherapist (trainee)
Many parents struggle to understand why their child isn’t doing as well as other kids, and also consider it their personal failing if the child’s performance in school lags. What many don’t understand is that dyslexia manifests differently in different people. For me, basic coordination — moving my hands and legs in tandem — was challenging. Reading was also a struggle — words would swim in front of my eyes. On the other hand, my cousin was a voracious reader. My family didn’t understand why I couldn’t read well.
While many schools now teach concepts more visually, at my time, I didn’t have access to these aids. Math was also a challenge — to date, I count on my fingers. In college, I did very poorly in Logic, because of the math component. I only scored seven on 100. I’d like to point out that just because a child is dyslexic doesn’t mean that certain types of learning can automatically be written off — in fact, when I worked with my school teacher for three months, I scored 68 per cent in the exams. I attribute that to not what was being taught, but rather how it was being taught. Today, I wonder if I was taught math another way, I may have chosen a different career track altogether.
While, as parents, it’s important to extend support, love and encouragement to the child, it’s also equally important to give the child access to a teacher who knows how to help them learn.
There’s no substitute for early intervention
Kabir Bhogilal, 38, founder of Unique Ability Consulting
As parents, it’s best to address any issues you spot with your child’s learning immediately. A dyslexic child is already struggling to cope at school. They feel alienated in the wider world. While remedial coaching and other measures do help to an extent, the family must step up as a support system. At school, it’s important to make sure that all the interventions are aligned — whether the remedial coaching, the special educator or tutoring at home. If you start doing too many different things at the same time, it confuses the child even more. It’s also important to give the child fewer instructions and let him/her explore the way they want to learn. Assisted technology, such as computer-aided reading or learning can greatly help. Your child could be a visual learner and benefit greatly from visual aids.
Importantly, don’t treat dyslexia as a medical condition. Since certificates are still issued by hospitals, many parents are reluctant to get their children tested for fear of the associated stigma. At the same time, you must create open channels of dialogue with your child, so that (s) he is not afraid to come to you with any issues or for emotional support. If necessary, seek counselling to better understand how you can offer a supportive environment to your child.
For me, early intervention made a great difference. When I was about seven years old, I was struggling tremendously at school. I was failing my classes and language was a major concern. At the time, there was no real diagnosis or understanding of dyslexia in India. I went to England at the age of 10, where I was put through several tests and received the necessary academic and social support.
Offer opportunities to improve their confidence
Darius Patel, 28, HR professional
I was tested and diagnosed early, in the third standard. This was very helpful as I received timely support and help. I was also exempted from certain subjects such as languages. This came with the bonus of giving me more time to focus on extracurricular activities such as sports. I did very well at football and karate, and even went on to represent our country in karate. Performing well in gave me the confidence to approach my academics with new fervor. Using tools and technology also helped to improve my confidence — I struggled with math and spelling. My remedial tutor recognized this and began to spell out words for me — instead of asking me to write the same thing down 20 times — until I got it right. Simply watching her lip movement helped me memorize the spellings.
Be open to learning in unusual ways
Neha Rao, 27, textile design professional
Although my mother is a doctor, when I was diagnosed with dyslexia, she had to spend as much time educating herself and learning new techniques as on helping me learn. We went through a lot of trial and error and tested out a lot of techniques. While some strategies that worked well for other children proved useful, some others didn’t.
While the remedial coaching that children with dyslexia receive is of immense help, it is only for an hour… Parents play an invaluable role in helping the child with his/her daily lessons and activities. My parents were incredibly patient. It also helped that I was diagnosed very early, at the age of seven. The moldings period was accordingly much easier. As parents, develop a relationship with the tutor, so that you can be more involved in your child’s learning process. My mother and I would sit down together for two to three hours every day for studies. We’d use different learning techniques, such as breaking each sentence down, using phonetics and remembering concepts in the form of a song, among others.
Remember that denial of a dyslexia diagnosis also does not let the child grow. While acceptance takes a lot of courage, it is only when I accepted and embraced the condition that I was able to understand how my unconventional learning made me a creative thinker and enriched me in certain ways.
Don’t tell us we’re lazy or uninterested
Rayomand Pavri, 37, project manager
Although we spoke English at home, reading was very difficult for me. I had to change schools and even boards to avoid certain optional subjects. However, that only helped to a certain extent, as I could not understand the questions I was reading in my exams. Often, by the time I reached the end of a paragraph, I had forgotten what I had read in the beginning. My handwriting was terrible. I often struggled to understand what I had written.
This made school very stressful and frustrating for me. I’d often not understand what was being taught in class and was distracted. I was accordingly perceived by my teachers as hyperactive and disruptive and made to sit far away from the others. My formative years were quite lonely — none of my peers wanted to befriend someone who was doing so poorly at school. I had to repeat my class 12 board exams because I failed in Hindi.
At the time, my older sister was pursuing a scholarship programme, which included a study on dyslexia. She got in touch with one of the founding members of Maharashtra Dyslexia Association. My family then recognized that many of my symptoms were characteristic of a dyslexic. I was tested and found to have dyslexia
Things weren’t much easier at the workplace — my superiors asked me to take charge of my project because I spoke English well. This role entailed taking copious notes, which was obviously not well suited to me. I made a spelling error in an important presentation and got mocked by a client and underwent a further assessment and found that my writing and reading were on a similar level as a child in early school. I did not know the difference between words that sounded similar but were spelled differently (such as shot and short; waste and waist).
I had to completely re-learn speaking and reading. I underwent training at the MDA and this tremendously boosted my confidence. In fact, reading complex things and improving my vocabulary proved to be life-changing. Before labeling a child as lazy or a slow-learner, it’s important for parents to first ask the child what difficulties (s)he might be facing and to devise learning strategies that actually work. During my 12th standard, I went to a Hindi teacher who recorded my lessons for me — I would keep listening to those lessons and, to this day, I still remember some of the stories.
How to increase your vocabulary? What books are most suitable for this? How do I increase it without books?
Which book is best to improve vocabulary?
What are the benefits of reading books?
What’s the best argument to convince someone to be a reader?
Which is better Audiobook or books?