Why is my child struggling to read?

Why do some children learn to read, as if by magic, and others struggle to acquire the most basic reading skills? Unlike oral communication, which is hardwired into our system, written communication is a relatively new construct, in evolutionary terms. So, our brains must learn this new skill by hook or by crook. Children learn to read by a combination of exposure to spoken vocabulary, experiences which enhance their own world knowledge, listening to high quality literature being read aloud to them often and early, and repeated exposure to printed material. When any of these elements are missing, the acquisition of reading skills becomes that much more daunting. And then there's dyslexia. What is dyslexia? Please do not be afraid of the term dyslexia. Dys means difficulty with and lexia means language. So you see, it is difficulty with language. Think of it as looking at a map for the first time and decoding it to find the treasure. The treasure is being able to read and comprehend what is being read!

Dyslexia does NOT mean seeing backwards.

Dyslexia is NOT a sign of poor intelligence.

Dyslexia is NOT a result of laziness and not caring.

Dyslexia is NOT a disease.

Dyslexia is NOT cured with pills and diet.

Dyslexia is NOT an eye problem.

Dyslexia is NOT outgrown.

So what is Dyslexia?

What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is the most common learning disorder. It is the type of disability that usually manifests itself as difficulty with written language, primarily reading and spelling. Evidence suggests that it is a result of a difference in how the brain processes written and/or verbal language. It is separate and distinct from reading difficulties resulting from other causes, such as deficiencies in intelligence, non-neurological deficiency with vision or hearing, or from poor or inadequate reading instruction. It is usually marked by (1) a weakness in phonemic awareness… that is, the ability to manipulate in working memory the phonemes in words; and (2) a weakness in rapid automatic naming… that is a slow response time to naming letters, numbers, objects, or colors. Dyslexia also exists on a continuum. There is no point at which you can separate those with dyslexia and those without it. Yes, you can be a little dyslexic or a lot dyslexic, and that difference will determine your reading struggles. The National Institute of Health's Definition: These individuals typically read at levels significantly lower than expected despite having average intelligence. Although the disorder varies from person to person, common characteristics among people with dyslexia are difficulty with phonological processing (the manipulation of sounds) and/or rapid visual-verbal responding. Dyslexia does not get better with time. No matter how you define it, if it is left untreated it can and will have a negative impact on the life of your child and their chance of academic success. Being a trained Orton-Gillingham Reading Therapist, I understand what kind of instruction this kind of child needs to learn to read.


Proust and the Squid, The Story and Science of the Reading Brain by Maryanne Wolf

Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz, MD

The Dyslexia Checklist, A Practical Reference for Parents and Teachers by Sandra F. Rief, MA & Judith M. Stern, MA