What do Reading Disorders look like?


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Learning to read is a complex task. It requires coordination of the eye muscles to follow a line of print, spatial orientation to interpret letters and words, visual memory to retain the meaning of letters and sight words, sequencing ability, a grasp of sentence structure and grammar, and the ability to categorize and analyze. In addition, the brain must integrate visual cues with memory and associate them with specific sounds. The sounds must then be associated with specific meanings. For comprehension, the meanings must be retained while a sentence or passage is read. Reading disorder occurs when any of these processes are disrupted. For that reason, the roots of reading disorder have proved difficult to isolate, and may be different in different individuals.

Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders, http://www.minddisorders.com/Py-Z/Reading-disorder.html

According to the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY), a learning disability in the area of reading may manifest itself in one of the following ways:

- may have trouble learning the alphabet, rhyming words, or connecting letters to their sounds

- may make many mistakes when reading aloud, and repeat and pause often

- may not understand what he or she reads

- may have real trouble with spelling

- may learn language late and have a limited vocabulary

- may have trouble remembering the sounds that letters make or hearing slight differences between words

- may mispronounce words or use a wrong word that sounds similar


"Researchers have made considerable progress in understanding all types of reading disabilities (Fletcher et al., 2007). For purposes of research, "reading impaired" children may be all those who score below the 30th percentile in basic reading skill. Among all of those poor readers, about 70-80 percent have trouble with accurate and fluent word recognition that originates with weaknesses in phonological processing, often in combination with fluency and comprehension problems. These students have obvious trouble learning sound-symbol correspondence, sounding out words, and spelling. The term dyslexic is most often applied to this group.

Another 10-15 percent of poor readers appear to be accurate but too slow in word recognition and text reading. They have specific weaknesses with speed of word recognition and automatic recall of word spellings, although they do relatively well on tests of phoneme awareness and other phonological skills. They have trouble developing automatic recognition of words by sight and tend to spell phonetically but not accurately. This subgroup is thought to have relative strengths in phonological processing, but the nature of their relative weakness is still debated by reading scientists (Fletcher et al, 2007; Katzir et al., 2006; Wolf & Bowers, 1999). Some argue that the problem is primarily one of timing or processing speed, and others propose that there is a specific deficit within the orthographic processor that affects the storage and recall of exact letter sequences. This processing speed/orthographic subgroup generally has milder difficulties with reading than students with phonological processing deficits.

Yet another 10-15 percent of poor readers appear to decode words better than they can comprehend the meanings of passages. These poor readers are distinguished from dyslexic poor readers because they can read words accurately and quickly and they can spell. Their problems are caused by disorders of social reasoning, abstract verbal reasoning, or language comprehension."

By: Louisa Moats and Carol Tolman, http://www.readingrockets.org/article/28749/