The Shame Felt By People Who Struggle To Read And Write
When John Corcoran wrote about his experience of not being able to read or write until he was in his late forties, many readers sent emails saying that they too had literacy problems. Some described painful experiences at school, while others described hiding their inability to read and write through shame. Here is a selection of their stories.
Other Disorders That Make Learning Difficult
Difficulty in school doesnt always stem from a learning disability. Anxiety, depression, stressful events, emotional trauma, and other conditions affecting concentration make learning more of a challenge. In addition, ADHD and autism sometimes co-occur or are confused with learning disabilities.
ADHD Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder , while not considered a learning disability, can certainly disrupt learning. Children with ADHD often have problems sitting still, staying focused, following instructions, staying organized, and completing homework.
Autism Difficulty mastering certain academic skills can stem from pervasive developmental disorders such as autism and Aspergers syndrome. Children with autism spectrum disorders may have trouble communicating, reading body language, learning basic skills, making friends, and making eye contact.
Causes And Risk Factors
There are a number of potential factors that can contribute to a reading comprehension problem. There are also certain disorders that put a person at higher risk for this specific type of reading disability.
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder : People with ADHD may also struggle with reading comprehension, which is likely related to challenges with working memory.
- Autism: Some children with autism have hyperlexia: They are early readers, able to decode words without difficulty, but have low reading comprehension.
- Brain differences:Students with specific reading comprehension deficit tend to have less gray matter in the areas of the brain that control language processing and executive functioning, both skills that relate to reading.
- Dyslexia: Kids with this learning disability mainly have trouble , or connecting printed text to a spoken word. While some people with dyslexia have no problem with comprehension, others have trouble fully understanding a writing passage because of their slow or disjointed reading pace.
- Poor early vocabulary skills:Kids who can read competently but have trouble grasping the gist of a writing passage are sometimes lagging behind peers on basic vocabulary skills.
Kids can have reading comprehension difficulties that relate to challenges they face with other diagnoses such as dyslexia, ADHD, or autism.
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Prevalence Of Learning Disabilities
Your chances of knowing someone with learning disabilities are very good. Currently, almost 2.9 million school-aged children in the United States are classified as having specific learning disabilities and receive some kind of special education support. In fact, over half of all children who receive special education have a learning disability . They are approximately 5% of all school-aged children in public schools. Learning disabilities is by far the largest category of special education.
It should be noted that prevalence figures can vary widely between states and within a state, depending on the stringency of the method used to determine eligibility. For example:
- Kentucky reports the lowest prevalence figure and Massachusetts the highest . A study completed in Michigan compared the learning disabilities eligibility criteria and procedures for identification across the 57 regional education service agencies in the state . The results indicated that 21% of the RESAs had no written eligibility criteria or policies, the length of the written policies varied from one sentence to 112 pages, and the severe discrepancy formula score varied from 15 to 30 standard score points! It is possible for a student to move a few miles to the next school district and no longer be considered to have a learning disability. .
What Can Affect Someone’s Ability To Learn To Read
Where a child has difficulty reading, it is important to try to identify the reason/s as early as possible, as the sort of help needed can differ dramatically.
Evidence suggests that early intervention is key.
For example, the kind of help a child needs to overcome problems with making sense of the sounds generated by letters or letter combinations is very different from that needed by a child who has “visual” problems reading.
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What Next: Getting Help
Parents are almost always the first to sense a problem or difference in a child’s development. However, they often assume that the child will catch up, just needs more time, or is simply not as “bright” as other children.
Sometimes their observations are a sign that there really is a problem – there is a disability or difference that is affecting the child’s reading. In this case, an alternative type of help in reading development can often provide the answer.
Many people who have been diagnosed as being dyslexic, for example, have in fact average to above average intelligence. All they need is the right type of help and support to become confident readers.
Its therefore important to trust your instincts and insist on getting the professional help and the extra support your child needs.
Ask your childs teacher, doctor or health visitor for help and insist you get it.
Some Good Practice But Not Widespread Enough
However, there are some areas where things have worked.
Victoria has a disability liaison officer service that seeks to link up people with disability with appropriate vaccination experiences. One parent explained:
Initially had this challenge until I was made aware of the Vic Disability Liaison support for COVID vaccination. They were awesome and my daughter was supported to have her first dose yesterday. Without them Id still be waiting, without support and anxious. I understand this is only available in Victoria and should be available everywhere.
And some families have GPs who went the extra mile to vaccinate in a safe and appropriate way.
But these good examples are not widespread and the communication around specialist services is not as strong as it might be.
As the country moves towards living with COVID and progressively lifting public health restrictions, its imperative we vaccinate as many children and young people with disability as possible. Otherwise were likely to see significant numbers of infections and severe illness in this group.
Identifying individuals and families who are eligible and providing appropriate specialist support so they can be vaccinated is a priority.
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Children With Disability Cant Book Vaccinations
Children and Young People with Disability Australia wanted to understand whether children and young people and their families were experiencing challenges accessing vaccinations and if so, what the nature of those were.
Its online survey was open for one week and received 150 responses, which our research team then analysed. Some responses were from young people and most were from parents/caregivers of children and young people with disability.
The survey finds 62% of respondents were parents or carers who report having trouble in securing a vaccination for their child or children, some of whom had also experienced challenges getting vaccinated themselves.
In total, 72% of survey respondents were either parents or young people whod had challenges with vaccination. This includes difficulties with booking systems, not being recognised as part of the priority rollout, and not being able to book with GPs.
Systems are not designed with children and young people with disability in mind. Parents and caregivers struggled to get vaccination appointments and to prove their or their childs eligibility.
The system is not set up to book for dependants, so if children do not have their own phone number and email address, parents cannot easily book appointments.
When phoning the call centre, things did not always get easier as one parent explains:
The person at call centre only wanted to talk to my son who is 16 and non-verbal. Refused to talk to me.
When Older Students Can’t Read
Since 1996, state and federal reading initiatives have focused on the problem of reading failure at kindergarten and the primary grades. The focus on early intervention is well-conceived, given the strong evidence that research-based instruction beginning in kindergarten significantly reduces the number of children who experience reading difficulty .
If children receive instruction in phonological and alphabetic skills and learn to apply that knowledge to decoding words, they are very likely to succeed at reading. Once children fall behind, they seldom catch up, a reason that such states as California, Virginia, and Texas promote early intervention to prevent reading problems. Reading level in 1st grade, moreover, is an astonishingly good predictor of reading achievement into high school . Reading failure begins early, takes root quickly, and affects students for life.
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Overcoming The Shame Of My Learning Disability
Synopsis: Despite trying hard to read and write, 6 year old Leana Greene found it continually difficult to spell words and process letters and later found out she had dyslexia. The shame of not being able to read out loud without stuttering or misspelling something on the blackboard in front of the class was almost unbearable… Angela Gonzales, MD, explains that often the traditional academic environment does not suit a non-traditional learner, but children with learning disabilities have a style of thinking that is a gift later on in life.
Support For People With Dyslexia
If your child has dyslexia, they’ll probably need extra educational support from their school.
With appropriate support, there’s usually no reason your child can’t go to a mainstream school, although a small number of children may benefit from attending a specialist school.
Techniques and support that may help your child include:
- occasional 1-to-1 teaching or lessons in a small group with a specialist teacher
- technology like computers and speech recognition software that may make it easier for your child to read and write when they’re a bit older
Universities also have specialist staff who can support young people with dyslexia in higher education.
Technology such as word processors and electronic organisers can be useful for adults, too.
Employers are required to make reasonable adjustments to the workplace to help people with dyslexia, such as allowing extra time for certain tasks.
Read more about how dyslexia is managed.
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For Parents And Caregivers Of Children With Adhd
Children with symptoms of ADHD should be referred to and evaluated by a mental health professional who specializes in treating children, unless your primary care doctor has experience in treating this disorder. The diagnostic evaluation should include behavioral observation in the classroom and at home. A comprehensive treatment plan should be developed with the family, and, whenever possible, the child should be involved in making treatment decisions. Educational testing should be performed when learning disabilities are present.
Treatment for ADHD is effective for most children. Early identification, diagnosis and treatment help children reach their full potential. The most effective treatments for ADHD include a combination of medication, behavioral therapy, and parental support and education. Nine out of 10 children respond to medication, and 50 percent of children who do not respond to an initial medication will respond to a second. When ADHD co-occurs with another disorder, such as depression or anxiety, a combination of medication and psychotherapy is shown to be particularly effective. Although the value of medication has been well-documented, parents should feel free to discuss any concerns about medication use with their childs doctor. Click here for a guide to medications used in the treatment of childhood ADHD.
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Learning Disabilities In Motor Skills
Motor difficulty refers to problems with movement and coordination whether it is with fine motor skills or gross motor skills . A motor disability is sometimes referred to as an output activity meaning that it relates to the output of information from the brain. In order to run, jump, write or cut something, the brain must be able to communicate with the necessary limbs to complete the action.
Signs that your child might have a motor coordination disability include problems with physical abilities that require hand-eye coordination, like holding a pencil or buttoning a shirt.
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How Is Dysgraphia Diagnosed
Diagnosing dysgraphia often requires a team of experts, including a physician and a licensed psychologist or other mental health professional trained in working with people who have learning disabilities. An occupational therapist, school psychologist, or a special education teacher may also help make the diagnosis.
For children, part of the diagnostic process may include an IQ test and an assessment of their academic work. Specific school assignments may also be examined.
For adults, examples of written work or written tests administered by a doctor may be evaluated. You will be observed as you write to look for fine motor skills problems. You may be asked to copy words from one source to another to help understand if there are language-processing problems.
Occupational therapy may be helpful in improving handwriting skills. Therapeutic activities may include:
- holding a pencil or pen in a new way to make writing easier
- working with modeling clay
What Is The Role Of Teaching And Instruction With Regard To Reading Difficulties
Good reading instruction is necessary for students to learn to read. It is also no simple task. Reading and language experts have likened teaching reading to rocket science . With so many different reading components, it can be difficult to diagnose students’ difficulties and find precisely the right techniques to remediate them. To be successful, teachers need strong and deep understanding of reading theory and practice.
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About Reading Disabilities Learning Disabilities And Reading Difficulties
About 10 million children have difficulties learning to read. The good news is that more than 90 percent of struggling readers can overcome their difficulties if they receive appropriate treatment at early ages.
Many kids struggle with reading. One estimate is that about 10 million children have difficulties learning to read. The good news is that 90 to 95 percent of reading impaired children can overcome their difficulties if they receive appropriate treatment at early ages.
When A Mental Illness And Learning Disability Occur Together
Having a disability or a mental health disorder are two very different diagnoses. Yet, they are much more likely to occur together. As many as 25% of individuals with a learning disorder, such as ADHD, will suffer from a psychological illness. In a majority of these cases, a learning disability may have contributed to the onset of the psychological illness.
Depression is most commonly diagnosed in combination with a learning disability. Sometimes the frustration that coincides with managing ADHD can bring upon overwhelming feelings of hopelessness. In these cases, getting mental and behavioral health care could restore the quality of life for the suffering individual.
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How Is Adhd Diagnosed In Children Teens And Adults
To diagnose a child, the healthcare provider must perform three tasks. The healthcare provider must: 1) identify the presence of ADHD symptom criteria, 2) rule out alternative causes of symptoms, and 3) identify comorbid conditions .
But, the job is not yet done. Certain conditions must also be met. First, the symptom behaviors must be present in two or more settings such as at home and in school. Second, the symptoms must be impairing. Its not just that they occur as everyone engages in these behaviors sometimes. Third, symptom behaviors must have been present in childhood, typically before the age of 12 years. Last, the symptoms cannot be corollaries to another disorder that is not ADHD. For example, sometimes, when a person is depressed or anxious, inattentive behaviors may occur. The clinician will identify ADHD symptoms by asking you questions about your childs behavior s at home and school . Next, your provider will rule out other possible conditions that share some similar symptoms. These conditions include:
- Sleep problems.
A sudden life change may also result in behaviors that could be confused with ADHD).
Sometimes, an adult will recognize the behaviors of ADHD in himself or herself when a son or daughter is diagnosed. Other times, adults will seek professional help for themselves and find that their depression or anxiety is related to ADHD.
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Diagnosis And Testing For Learning Disabilities And Disorders
Since diagnosing a learning disability isnt always easy, dont assume you know what your childs problem is, even if the symptoms seem clear. Its important to have your child tested and evaluated by a qualified professional. That said, you should trust your instincts. If you think something is wrong, listen to your gut. If you feel that a teacher or doctor is minimizing your concerns, seek a second opinion. Dont let anyone tell you to wait and see or dont worry about it if you see your child struggling. Regardless of whether or not your childs problems are due to a learning disability, intervention is needed. You cant go wrong by looking into the issue and taking action.
Keep in mind that finding someone who can help may take some time and effort. Even experts mix up learning disabilities with ADHD and other behavioral problems sometimes. You may have to look around a bit or try more than one professional. In the meantime, try to be patient, and remember that you wont always get clear answers. Try not to get too caught up in trying to determine the label for your childs disorder. Leave that to the professionals. Focus instead on steps you can take to support your child and address their symptoms in practical ways.