Having a learning “disability” isn’t the only reason why some students struggle to read, but it can be the most difficult to remediate.
First let’s look at some other reasons why children experience reading difficulties. Then we’ll talk about programs that help.
A child can simply grow up with limited exposure to reading. She might also start school in a classroom full of students who are non-readers. In a way, that’s lucky for her. How?
1) She may never experience a sense of feeling behind or different.
2) In this instance, a child who spends some time with a qualified reading instructor, using a reading program, is likely to make tremendous gains in reading.
What about intellectual disabilities?
Intellectual disabilities are quite different than learning disabilities.
A child with an intellectual disability maintains a below average IQ. Expectations about his ability to read are likely kept rather low. If the disability is mild, he may still learn to read, but tap out somewhere below a 6th grade reading level.
A student with a learning disability, however, is quite bright, but still struggles.
When bright children have trouble learning to read, and adults don’t understand why she isn’t making the connections, it’s easy to conclude that she is simply being lazy or is uninterested in learning.
But that would be wrong.
So you recognize that your child isn’t simply unmotivated. Instead, he really needs help.
Perhaps you join a Facebook group or local group dedicated to parents of students with learning disabilities. And perhaps they all point you to a handful of reading programs that did wonders for their own children.
- You might then hire a Barton tutor, focused on reading and spelling.
- You might hire an Orton Gillingham tutor, focused on a multisensory approach to reading.
- You might also decide to purchase your own DIY reading program, like the highly rated All About Reading.
Either or all of these options sound like the right solution. Many parents have sworn by the success they’ve had with them. It would stand to reason, then, that your own child would experience the same type of success, right?
Perhaps, but perhaps not.
When a child struggles to read, and when that reading struggle is due to an official learning disability, reading strategies that focus primarily on reading are missing some key pieces of the learning puzzle.
The Missing Pieces
Before children learn academics, in other words reading, writing and arithmetic, they must first be able to process the information we present to them.
Sometimes when people talk about foundation skills, or fundamentals, they’re talking about learning numbers and letters, or the very basic academic skills that we first learn in preschool or kindergarten.
Underneath these academic foundations, though, are the most important foundations of all, the ability to process that information. This is super important and far too often overlooked.
We take in information, through our eyes, our ears, our sense of touch, we figure out how to manage that information in our brains, and then we use that information to learn and expand upon our academic skills.
Typically, students develop these underlying processing abilities naturally. By the time they reach kindergarten, they are ready to learn.
Other times, children need our help to develop stronger processing skills. If we skip this step, it’s quite unfair of us to keep piling on the academics. While doubling down on reading strategies might help to some extent, this doesn’t always close the learning gaps.
And do you know what does NOT focus on developing processing skills? That would be any reading program with an exclusive focus on the fundamentals of reading.
So, if your dyslexic learner or your child with other learning disabilities experienced great success with any of the reading programs I mentioned above, I say fantastic!
If, however, that reading success did not translate to other areas of academics, you, too, are likely missing a few of the pieces of your child’s overarching learning challenges.
Find the missing pieces and you’ll help unlock that unlimited learner that you know your child has the potential of becoming.