Reading Difficulties

We are biologically wired to speak, but reading is a human invention that must be learned. It will be easy for some, and much harder for others.

Are there different terms used for reading difficulties?

Yes! Possible terms used include: Specific Reading Disability (SRD), Dyslexia, Specific Comprehension Deficit (SCD). In the school setting, reading difficulties may be referred to as a “specific reading disability in basic reading”.  This is the term used for federal special education.

What is dyslexia?

It is a common myth that children with dyslexia are prone to seeing letters or words backwards. This is not correct.  The deficit responsible for dyslexia resides in the language system of the brain, specifically a localized weakness in the phonological system of the brain. This is the part of the brain where the sounds of language are put together to form words, and where words are broken down into their component sounds.

The weakness in the phonological system results in a cluster of symptoms resulting in problems with reading, spelling, writing, speaking, and even math skills. It is characterized by difficulties with word recognition, reading fluency, poor spelling, and decoding abilities.

The International Dyslexia Association developed the following definition of dyslexia in 2002: “Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension, and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge”.

Reading difficulties or dyslexia, occur along a continuum from mild to more significant. In addition, some children may have difficulty with the phonological component only , some may have difficulty with comprehension only, and for some it may be mixed difficulties. At Pathways to Speech and Reading we offer dyslexia intervention.

What are the signs of dyslexia?

From the International Dyslexia Association :
Problems in the following areas:
1) Learning to speak
2) Organizing spoken and written language
3) Learning letters and their sounds
4) Memorizing number facts
5) Spelling
6) Reading
7) Learning a foreign language
8) Correctly doing math problems

Signs of dyslexia in young preschool children:

1) Talking later than expected. Your child should be speaking his/her first words by twelve months, eighteen months at the latest. Toddlers should be combining words into phrases by age two.
2) A slowness to add new words
3) Difficulty rhyming
4) Difficulty learning and remembering the letters in their own name.
5) Trouble following multistep directions
** In addition to these early warning signs, keep in mind a family history of dyslexia. If your child was adopted, you may not have knowledge of a family history, so please be very mindful of the signs of dyslexia.

After a child begins school, the signs of dyslexia include:

1) Difficulty understanding that words can be pulled apart into sounds
2) Difficulty learning the connections between letters and sounds, or learning that sounds go with letters (phonics)
3) Difficulty reading single words
4) Confusing small words such as “at” and “to”
5) Letter reversals such as ‘d’ for ‘b’
6) Word reversals such as “tip” for “pit”

Diagnosing Dyslexia:

It is advised that you receive a formal diagnosis of dyslexia. An evaluation of dyslexia should be performed by a professional trained to administer a battery of testing measures that will provide both strengths and weaknesses of your child.  Additionally, an evaluation will include a report detailing the test results as well as suggestions for remediation, and accommodations that will address the needs of your child. At this time, Pathways to Speech and Reading LLC, does not offer testing for a formal diagnosis of dyslexia. Please call for referrals.

What causes dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a highly inherited condition, and runs in families. Studies suggest that reading difficulties are caused by genetic variants that cause “faulty wiring” in the part of the brain where sounds of language are put together to form words. Using Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) which measures blood flow to different parts of the brain, researchers now know that dyslexia involves a weakness in the part of the brain that decodes the sounds of written language. Additionally, children with weak speech and language skills are at a higher risk of having difficulty acquiring the necessary skills for reading, and reading comprehension.

If the brain has a pathway that does not learn from the traditional methods presented in school, reading is hard and a cycle of failure may begin. However, research has shown that with the right kind of intensive instruction, brain functioning can change, overcoming reading difficulties. Your child may require this type of intensive, one-on-one instruction. We offer a dyslexia intervention program and reading tutoring.

Will my child outgrow dyslexia?

The Connecticut Longitudinal Study, lead by Sally Shaywitz MD,  enrolled 445 dyslexic children who in terms of gender, ethnicity, and race were representative of the population of children entering public kindergarten in Connecticut in 1983, and they  were followed into adulthood. This study demonstrated that dyslexia occurs along a continuum with shades of gray represented by struggling children who may not have yet failed to meet a particular criterion put forth by schools. (Shaywitz, pg 28, Overcoming Dyslexia). Data from the Connecticut Longitudinal Study also determined quite decisively that dyslexia is a chronic condition and that it does not represent a temporary lag in reading development. If a child is dyslexic early on in school, that child will continue to experience reading problems unless he is provided with a scientifically based proven intervention. (Shaywitz, pg 33, Overcoming Dyslexia). If your child is dyslexic, we offer a reading intervention program to strengthen reading skills and abilities.

Can children with dyslexia be taught to read?

Yes! Any child with normal cognitive skills can be taught to read. Early intervention paired with effective treatment is key!   Research shows that children who receive the right kind of intensive instruction can learn to read.

What makes a reading  program successful?

The National Reading Panel Report (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development [NICHD],2000) summarized several decades of scientific research which  clearly shows that effective reading instruction needs to address five essential components: phonemic awareness (ability to focus on and manipulate individual sounds in spoken words), phonics(understanding letter/sound correspondence), fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. These five components need to be combined with systematic instruction (skills and concepts are taught in a logically progressive sequence), explicit instruction (stating clearly what is being taught and modeling effectively how the skill is used), and multisensory instruction (incorporating auditory, visual, tactile, and kinesthetic instruction).

Your child will receive reading instruction at school beginning in kindergarten with an emphasis on phonemic awareness. This instruction will most likely be delivered to the entire class, small group, and work/activity stations. This approach may not be sufficient for children who have weaknesses in acquiring the underlying foundational skills for learning to read. We provide dyslexia intervention with Lindamood Bell Learning Processes.

How does Pathways to Speech and Reading  provide dyslexia intervention for reading difficulties?

I provide one-on-one reading instruction in a caring, fun, and supportive environment.This instruction is evidence based, meaning it is based on current scientific reading research and evidence, incorporating the five essential components as defined by the National Reading Panel Report as discussed above. I instruct, and assist children to change how they process the language component of reading, developing the critical skills necessary to be competent readers. Because remediation of reading difficulties requires intensive instruction,short,manageable assignments for practice at home may be provided. I provide reading instruction for children ages four through fourteen.

My background includes training in Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing Program for Reading, Spelling, and Speech (LiPs), Lindamood Seeing Stars Symbol Imagery,and Lindamood Visualizing and Verbalizing which may be integrated as needed.I have additional training in Linguistic Remedies, developed by Barbara Wise, Phd, a national reading specialist.

Initially, through education, it will be important for you and your child to understand about brain functioning, and why your child just needs a different way to learn to read. We are all different with strengths and weaknesses! Many famous people have reading difficulties!

Does Pathways to Speech and Reading LLC provide a reading enrichment program for preschoolers and those in kindergarten?

Yes!!! This instruction is critical for any child showing signs of reading difficulties. The best intervention is prevention!! A child needs help before he/she fails. Early intervention can nip a problem in the bud, and enable at-risk children to read. Children are able to acquire the skills for reading most easily between the ages of four and seven. The window never closes, but with older children, more intensive reading instruction for longer periods of time will be required to remediate a reading weakness.

At Pathways to Speech and Reading LLC, I provide an Early Reading Intervention Program for preschoolers and those in kindergarten. This program will include  instruction focusing on  reading readiness skills, or foundational skills, that have been clinically proven to prepare a child for learning to read.  This will include  intensive instruction for phonemic awareness, whereby children will learn to identify rhyming words, produce rhymes, participate in sound play, identify the beginnings and ending sounds for words, learn how words can be broken apart in to individual sounds, and the sister skill of blending sounds together. Children will also learn alphabet knowledge, and when they are ready, will be introduced to the sounds that go with the individual letters.

Why is early reading intervention important?

Kindergarten and first grade are the years when children learn to read. Children need to learn to read during the first years of elementary school or they will fall further and further behind their peers for learning background knowledge, vocabulary, and comprehension of reading material. In addition, reading difficulties will affect your child’s self-esteem, accompanied by frustration in learning to read, and trying to keep up with classroom peers.

Remember that early instruction is the best prevention, and knowledge of the early warning signs is key! We provide dyslexia intervention and tutoring. Call for more information at 303-856-8817.

I look forward to assisting, and guiding your child on the path to learning to read.
Please call for more information if you live in the following areas: Broomfield, Lafayette, Louisville, Superior, Boulder, Westminster, Thornton or Arvada. Call: 303-856-8817

Pathways to Speech and Reading LLC, is not Lindamood Bell Learning Processes nor is it affiliated with, certified endorsed, licensed, monitored or sponsored by Lindamood Bell, Nanci Bell, Phyllis Lindamood or Pat Lindamood. Lindamood Bell is an international organization creating and implementing unique instructional materials and programs for quality intervention to advance language and literacy skills – in no way endorses or monitors the services provided by Pathway’s to Speech and Reading LLC.

Shawitz MD, Sally. Overcoming dyslexia. New York; Vintage Books, 2005.