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Town Topics feature "Raeding Disrodurs: Recognize the Signs", by R. Moser

Raeding Disrodurs: Recognize the Signs

We’re Back to School and most parents are happy their lives are returning to a more predictable routine. While homework assignments start to pile up, learning glitches may begin to surface. As students progress through school, reading skills become pivotal to learning new information.

Often parents are not aware their child is experiencing a Reading Disorder, sometimes called a Reading Disability. If a child is bright, she or he may be able to compensate or “get by” in the earlier grades by spending extra time studying and working harder than classmates. However, as they get older, the reading demands grow. They can no longer keep up and their grades slip. Parents may think their child is just not working hard enough, or worse yet, is “lazy.” These students can lose interest in school, experience low self-confidence, lack motivation, and dislike reading for “fun.”

In 2014, New Jersey adopted the NJ Dyslexia Legislation for the identification and improvement of reading skills in youth, with a specific focus on dyslexia. Dyslexia is a type of reading disorder that can result in difficulties with letter and word reversals, learning sight words, blending letters to make sounds, and sounding out words. In New Jersey schools, dyslexia falls under the category of “Specific Learning Disability,” which allows students to receive reading assistance, such as in the form of a structured literacy program. Such programs include teaching the basic units of sounds called phonemes and learning to join them to form words.

Dyslexia may be identified in the early school years when young students experience difficulty with basic reading skills. But, not all students with reading problems experience problems learning to read words. Instead, some students show strengths in basic word reading, sounding out words, and reading aloud. Their difficulties are centered around not understanding what they read and/or being unable to read at a reasonable pace. Their challenges are in reading comprehension, fluency, and speed. Because of their intact basic reading skills, they may not be identified as having reading problems until the later school years.

Parents should recognize possible signs of a reading disorder: below average reading level, difficulty recognizing words, avoidance of reading, declining grades, starting, stopping, and pausing frequently when reading aloud, difficulty completing homework and tests, and dislike of school.

Early identification of a reading disorder is key to preserving a student’s positive attitude about learning and about herself/himself. If you suspect your child may have a reading problem, notify your child’s teacher and pediatrician, and seek a comprehensive educational evaluation by a qualified licensed or certified professional who specializes in learning and reading disorders.

By Rosemarie Scolaro Moser, PhD, ABN, ABPP-RP, neuropsychologist/school psychologist, and director of RSM Psychology Center, LLC in Princeton.

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