Thesis: Reading Disorders

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Reading Disorders

What is a reading disorder?

A reading disorder is a type of learning disorder. According to Davidson (2007), a reading disorder "involves significant impairment of reading accuracy, speed, or comprehension to the extent that the impairment interferes with academic achievement or activities of daily life." A person with a reading disorder will not necessarily struggle with any other subject area. Dyslexia is a type of reading disorders, but not all reading disorders can or should be classified as dyslexia. Persons with dyslexia have ancillary problems with overall verbal comprehension, speech, and language ability. The use of dyslexia as a blanket term is misleading. Therefore, reading disorders are sometimes referred to broadly by the term Developmental Reading Disorder (DRD). Other general terms for reading disorders include reading difficulties or reading disabilities ("Developmental Reading Disorder").

Reading disorders are most likely related to neurological causes, because persons with reading disorders have trouble identifying or processing the graphic images that comprise written language. Research into alexia, which is the term referring to reading disorders caused directly by brain damage, injury or disease, has illuminated some of the neurobiological causes of reading disorders in general. Heredity and brain structure abnormalities are possible etiologies.

Three basic types of reading disorders have been identified. Individuals with dyseidetic reading disorders can identify individual letters and their phonemes but struggle with groups of letters and also words. Dysphonic readers cannot match letters or groups of letters to their corresponding phonemes, and struggle especially with spelling ("Developmental Reading Disorder"). Some reading disorders are characterized by a combination of dyseidetic and dysphonic reading.

Individuals with developmental reading disorders may have average or above-average intelligence in other areas. Alternatively, a person diagnosed with a reading disorder may also exhibit other learning disorders too. Individual differences must be taken into account when working with students with reading disorders.

What signs are associated with a reading disorder?

Reading disorders are often diagnosed early, as early as kindergarten when young students are encountering written language for the first time. Students who have trouble learning the alphabet, who have trouble associating letters with their sounds, and who have difficulty recognizing patterns of sound and symbol. One of the signs of a reading disorder is trouble with rhyming and phoneme recognition (Developmental Reading Disorder). Reading disorders are often accompanied by a simultaneous difficulty with verbal (spoken) language. As many as 90% of students diagnosed with reading disorders will also exhibit some kind of speech or language disability (Davidson 2007). Many young students with reading disorders will be unable to understand whole sentences. Vision and hearing impairment must be ruled out as possible causes for the impaired reading ability.

Reading disorders are not characterized by general "slowness" to learn (Davidson 2007). However, reading disorders are noticeable when students read slower than they should based on their performance in other school subjects or based on their effort expenditure. When reading, a student may omit words entirely, reverse words or letters, and lack comprehension (Davidson 2007).

Because writing skills are introduced early in formal childhood education, reading disorders are unlikely to go unnoticed for long. In fact, reading disorders may be detected in the preschool years if the child is being exposed to language early. Spelling errors are likely to be out of proportion to the student's general intelligence and effort expenditure. Reading comprehension and other verbal activities pose problems for the young student with a reading disorder. The inability to appreciate rhymes, and a lack of rhyme recognition are signs of a reading disorder. Behavioral problems may also alert parents and teachers to the presence of an eating disorder. Frustration, tantrums, low self-esteem, social problems, and avoidance behaviors are some of the signs that the student is struggling and should be tested for possible learning disabilities.

How often is a reading disorder seen in our society?

According to the Encyclopedia of Psychology, reading disorders are "the most commonly diagnosed learning disability in the United States," with an estimated prevalence of 10 million children nationwide (between 4 and 20%). A significantly greater number of boys vs. girls are diagnosed with reading disorders.

How is a reading disorder diagnosed?

Kindergarten and first grade is the "ideal window of opportunity" for diagnosing reading disorders for several reasons (Hall 2001). Children are exposed to a plethora of new reading material and opportunities for verbal skills development during kindergarten and first grade. Therefore, any student who appears to lag behind peers, who underperforms on reading and sound recognition activities in comparison to other subject areas, or who seems visibly put off by reading work, should draw the attention of teachers and parents. Once a reading disorder is suspected, teachers can refer the student to specialists who can conduct a series of psychoeducational tests (Miller 2008). Tests can narrow down the cause for any reading difficulty, including ruling out any physiological issues like poor vision. Specialists will take care to rule out issues related to the student's linguistic background, which might have impeded the student's ability to learn English as fast as peers. Diagnosis may also include thorough examinations of a student's general intelligence.

Moreover, the tests can show whether or not the student has a global or mixed reading disorder or a more specific one. The diagnosis will point to the best modes of intervention. Furthermore, reading disorders are diagnosed independently from other learning disorders. Students with reading disorders do not necessarily struggle with their analytical, creative, or critical thinking skills. Reading disorders are "not connected with the ability to think or to understand complex ideas," (Rauch 2008). At the same time, Davidson (2007) points out that reading disorders are associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and similar conduct-related disorders.

How is a reading disorder treated?

Almost all students with reading disorders can be brought up to grade level with early intervention (Hall 2001). Early diagnosis is crucial, however. Research shows that past third grade, a student with a reading disorder may be unable to catch up to his or her peers. The methods of intervention vary, but all involve some sort of remedial instruction, tutoring, or therapy outside of school. Individual and group-level reading disorder instruction may be available.

Treatment intervention strategies may depend on available resources and funding. Some courses designed for students with reading disorders are intensive and involve almost complete extrication from the mainstream school system. Phonetics training, coupled with a multisensory and highly structured approach to learning, is likely to be effective (Davidson 2007). Not all learning needs to take place via the medium of the written word. Kinesthetic and experiential learning can reveal ways to treat reading disorders, deemphasizing written language as the means by which material is disseminated. However, remedial programs need to be tailor-made for each student because no two reading disorders are exactly alike and each student will have different needs. Some will be more highly motivated to overcome the disorder than others. Many will be satisfied to read good enough to pass their courses and be able to focus on subjects they can excel in.

What happens to someone with a reading disorder?

Most students with reading disorders will fare well, if they are offered plenty of specialized attention and support. The need to master basic reading is crucial to success in almost all academic areas. Therefore, early diagnosis and treatment can mean that students with reading disorders perform well in school and beyond. Davidson (2007) points out that "at least two Presidents of the United States" had reading disorders, and celebrity talk show host Jay Leno freely discusses his having dyslexia. Reading disorders do not need to impede a child or adult's success.

Unfortunately, a positive prognosis is not universal. Individual differences determine the way a student will react to and cope with a reading disorder. The attitudes of parents,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Reading Disorders.  (2009, February 6).  Retrieved December 11, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/reading-disorders/60619

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"Reading Disorders."  Essaytown.com.  February 6, 2009.  Accessed December 11, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/reading-disorders/60619.