Is your child:
If your child is really struggling with reading, he or she may be having difficulty with sight word recall. Reading may be slow and laborious.
The same simple book, read over and over, may take forever each time.
Maybe you’ve seen the word ‘mother’ appear fifteen times in “Are you my mother?” Sometimes it is even repeated on the same page. Your child may still need to sound out ‘mother’ each time it appears in the text.
This challenge is indicative of a problem with sight word recall. Children who struggle with sight word recall are not encoding and remembering what they see on the page.
These children may really dislike reading. Reading takes a long time, and the pace is so slow that it is hard to remember the content. Homework may be a challenge because it takes forever and does not feel fun. Your child may say, “I’m stupid” or “I can’t read” or start to use a baby voice, reverting to a younger age during homework time.
The child may ‘hit a wall,’ have meltdowns, yell and refuse.
Visual memory and encoding challenges may go hand in hand with phonological memory challenges, meaning that it is hard to remember how words look visually (visual encoding) and how words sound (phonological memory).
Your child may try to avoid reading all together, or he or she may insist on being read to instead of reading independently. The classroom teacher may talk about special reading groups or about enrolling your child in tutoring for reading.
Reading is crucial to success in school so this problem represents a significant challenge.
Difficulty with visual encoding of information could be related to visual memory. It may be that your child cannot recall the visual image of the word ‘mother.’ Difficulties could be related to trouble recognizing letters, letter blends and sounds.
Possible deficits include a phonological processing deficit, a phonemic awareness deficit, a phonological memory deficit or challenges with encoding and decoding.
Often, these challenges indicate that a learning disability is present. A learning disability is a weakness in a certain academic subject, like reading or writing, while often other academic areas are not impacted. Academic performance below age and grade level in school may indicate a learning disability. Sometimes, an attention deficit may account for challenges learning to read.
Learning Disabilities: A number of processing challenges may contribute to a learning disability in reading or dyslexia.
When a child is unable to remember a word from sentence to sentence, challenges with encoding (putting sounds together to make a word) and decoding (breaking the word down into component sounds) are very likely to be the underlying processing problems.
Many children have challenges with recognizing sight words and with remembering the rules of reading. Challenges may hold true for spelling and writing as well. It will be important to look at learning processes and strengths and weaknesses to determine whether a learning disability is present.
Phonological Processing refers to auditory processing of sounds used to create words in our spoken language. It also involves associating sounds with letters.
Phonological memory is the ability to hear and remember sounds.
Phonemic awareness refers to being able to break a word into each individual phoneme, the smallest unit of sound. A child must also be able to take those phonemes and blend them into longer and more complex words. When a child cannot visually encode information, it is much harder to recognize words and break them into small units of sound.
The brain has to be able to capture a visual picture of that word to be able to read fluently and to spell words when writing . When reading does not come automatically and is instead confusing and laborious, every aspect of school becomes a challenge.
Therefore, it is important to identify a reading disability early and to seek treatment for your child to strengthen skills that include visual encoding and decoding. These authors recommend reading intervention programs that use multi-sensory approaches [1-6].
Attention problems may impact reading because a child must pay attention to the words on the page in order to use phonological or phonemic skills. A reading disability could be made worse by an untreated attention deficit.
Sometimes children who have a learning disability, like dyslexia, also have challenges with attention (ADHD). Approximately 60% of children with ADHD also have a learning disability, so this co-occurrence is not uncommon .
Practice rhyming. It would be good to see whether your child can recognize and produce rhyming words. For example, you could ask, “what rhymes with car?”
Teach beginning sounds and blends. Can your child notice beginning blends, such as how “black” and “blue” start with the same sound blend?
Try to break words up. Can your child visually segment words by sound and notice the difference? Bl-ue/ Bl-a-ck. See if they can delete sounds by, for example, asking them to “say “play” without the “l” sound,” “pay.”
These tasks are phonological processing tasks, similar to those found in assessments like the C-TOPP.
Consider tutoring. If your child has challenges with these exercises, you may wish to pursue specialized tutoring. The multisensory methodology that underlies the Orton Gillingham and Lindamood-Bell methods is proven to work for children who have dyslexia [2-7].
Sometimes it is best to have a specialist or private tutor work with your child because treating these challenges early leads to better reading outcomes.
Try paired reading. Your child will need a lot of reading practice with or without extra tutoring. Instead of letting him or her struggle, try paired reading. In paired reading, the parent and child read the passage together. When the child pauses, the parent waits just a couple of seconds before providing the word.
This strategy can improve reading fluency and can make reading more fun. Another method is called ‘neurological impress’ where the child and parent read the passage at the same time so that the child can grow in fluency and can work on voice-inflection. This strategy is a good one for a kid who sounds like a robot.
Try the ‘popcorn’ read. Another reading strategy is the ‘popcorn read,’ which involves alternating page by page with your child. Use books with lots of rhyming and similar word structure like the Bob Books to help build your child’s confidence.
Try computer programs. Consider programs that read the text to a child while highlighting the words. Your child can listen to a story while reading along. Some reputable computer programs include:
If your child is struggling with a similar problem, not directly addressed in this section, see the list below for links to information about other related symptom areas.
Children who have significant problems in this area may have any of the following potential disabilities. *Note, this does not serve as a diagnosis in any way. See ‘Where to Go for Help’ section for professionals who can diagnose or provide a referral.
If your child is struggling with this symptom to the point that it is getting in the way of his learning, relationships, or happiness, the following professionals could help; they may offer diagnosis, treatment, or both.
These professionals may recommend or administer the following tests for this symptom:
 Shaywitz, Sally (2005). Overcoming dyslexia: A new and complete science-based program for reading problems at any level.
 Bell, Nanci (2013). Seeing stars: Symbol imagery for phonological and orthographic processing in reading and spelling.
 Bell, Nanci (2007). Visualizing and verbalizing: For language comprehension and thinking.
 Lindamood, Patricia (2011). LiPS: The Lindamood phoneme sequencing program for reading, spelling, and speech — 4th edition, complete kit (LIPS, 4th).
 Orlassino, Cheryl (2012). Blast off to reading!: 50 Orton-Gillingham based lessons for struggling readers and those with dyslexia.
 Orlassino, Cheryl (2014). A workbook for dyslexics, 3rd edition.
 Zeigler Dendy, Chris A. (2003). Teaching teens with ADD and ADHD: A quick reference guide for teachers and parents.
Description:Father and daughter reading
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Previously Licensed on: October 21, 2016
Stylized by Katie Harwood exclusively for Clear Child Psychology