What is a reading disorder?
- A reading disorder is when one has difficultly in
reading or understanding material within a reading.
- Most people with reading disorders have problems
with their phonemic (sound/symbol relationships)
awareness development. This means that they
have a difficult time putting together letters to make
a sound. (7)
What is Dyslexia?
- With dyslexia, a person mixes up letters and/or word
sequences and therefore has interference in his or her
learning as the brain has a problem processing language.
- There are two kinds of dyslexia.
a) Developmental phonological dyslexia- where
one has a problem with nonword reading.
(Nonword reading is changing the initial and middle letters
of a word. Examples are mana (mama) and aufo (auto)).
b) Developmental surface dyslexia – where one
has difficulty in reading irregular words. (1)
(25% English words are irregular, which means that they
violate English spelling-to-sound word rule. Examples:
pretty, bowl, and sew.)
- 80% of all initial learning disabilities are
diagnosed as a reading disability. (9)
- 40% of population in US reads below grade level.
- Half of those people have reading disabilities. (7)
- Dyslexia is most common reading disability and
affects 2-8% of school age children. (4)
Sources of reading disorders/dyslexia:
- Reading disorders come from both heredity and the
a) It is believed that a family gene carries the disorder.
b) Studies have shown that males are four xs more likely to
have a reading disorder than a female; however, it is
believed that a male’s behavior contributes to this as it
brings forth the disorder to a teacher’s attention more
a) Most at risked students are ones who have a limited
amount of English in their vocabulary like English as
second language students.
b) In addition, students who are most at risked have a
hard time understanding phonemics. (6)
c) A person raised in poverty is more likely to have a
reading disability than a person who is not due to
their standard of education.
d) Students who have parents with low reading levels
are more likely to have a reading disorder.
e) Students who have speech or hearing impairments
are also more likely to have a reading disorder as the
English language is based on phonemics. (4)
Other factors leading to a reading disability:
- Vocabulary deficits.
- Inadequate background knowledge relevant to information
presented in text.
- Lack of familiarity with semantic and syntactic structures that
can help predict and better understand words.
- Lack of knowledge about different writing conventions that are
employed by the author.
- Lack of verbal reasoning ability.
- The ability to remember or recall information. (4)
Signs of a reading disorder:
- A good predictor of knowing if one has a reading
disorder is the speed and accuracy that a person
can read a single word. (The slower one reads that
word, the more difficulty they have with reading.) (6)
- Poor recognition of the written word.
- Very slow oral reading.
- Many mistakes in oral reading.
- Very poor comprehension of what has been read (2)
Signs of dyslexia:
- For a child
- Can begin in Kindergarten
- A student who has a problem putting letters in
- A student who has a hard time recognizing rhyming
- For someone who is older (8)
- Messy handwriting
- Poor decoding and spelling abilities
- Spoken language difficulties
- Poor short term memory
- Hard time learning a foreign language
This survey from Dyslexia Association is an indicator for
adults on whether or not they have dyslexia (10):
Please pick Yes or No to each question. Don't miss any questions. If in doubt
pick the answer that you feel is true most often
1. Do you find difficulty telling left from right?
2. Is map reading or finding your way to a strange place confusing?
3. Do you dislike reading aloud?
4. Do you take longer than you should to read a page of a book?
5. Do you find it difficult to remember the sense of what you have
6. Do you dislike reading long books?
7. Is your spel ing poor?
8. Is your writing difficult to read?
9. Do you get confused if you have to speak in public?
10. Do you find it difficult to take messages on the telephone and
pass them on correctly?
11. When you say a long word, do you sometimes find it difficult to
get al the sounds in the right order?
12. Do you find it difficult to do sums in your head without using your
fingers or paper?
13. When using the telephone, do you tend to get the numbers
mixed up when you dial?
14. Do you find it difficult to say the months of the year forwards in a
15. Do you find it difficult to say the months of the year backwards?
16. Do you mix up dates and times and miss appointments?
17. When writing checks do you frequently find yourself making
18. Do you find forms difficult and confusing?
19. Do you mix up bus numbers like 95 and 59?
20. Did you find it hard to learn your multiplication tables at school?
Nine or more YES responses on the questionnaire, as a whole is therefore
a powerful indicator of a difficulty. The items picked should be compared
with the 'best twelve' shown above.
Michael Vinegrad: A revised Dyslexia Checklist. Educare, No 48 March 1994.
Issued with permission from Michael Vinegrad.
Effects of a Reading Disorder/ Dyslexia on a
- Individual might have problem expressing themselves or
understanding others as they have difficulty with
- Student may become frustrated with schoolwork.
- Student can have a lower self-esteem.
- Dyslexia is a problem, which cannot go away, but with
practice and help, a student can live life to the fullest. (7)
What a teacher should do if they believe a
student might have a reading/disorder or
- Talk to your school and find out if they have someone
who can identify the problem as only a trained
professional can do an evaluation to identify it. (3)
(Trained professionals vary depending on schools and location,
an example of trained professionals includes school
psychologist and reading specialist.)
- Try to notice the problem as early as possible, as
after the age of nine, the student is going to need
continual help for the problem. (7)
How to help a student with
- Have them read different kinds of reading material, especially
material they find interesting, as it will positively enforce
- Have the student use multi-sensory, follow a structured language
instruction and practice using sight, sound and touch when
introducing new ideas.
- Give student extra time to complete work.
- Aid with note taking by giving students a fill in the blank or
- Help with oral testing and other assessments.
- Use books on tape and other assistive technology.
- Have other ways of assessments besides reading and writing as
student might have strength in other areas.
- Help with emotional issues that might arise (3)
- Provide positive and corrective feedback.
- Introduce important vocabulary before the student reads a
- Put daily assignments on the board as the earlier it is in the day,
the easier time a dyslexic students seems to have.
- Try not to have extra information on the board.
Only have that day’s information on the board.
- Leave assignments on the board for the entire day.
- Write in large letters.
- Put assignments in the same place every day on the board.
- Make sure the student is writing down assignments correctly and
reward student for writing down the assignment.
- Have student located close to the board. (5)
Some quotes from famous individuals
who had dyslexia.
I was, on the whole, considerably discouraged by my school days. It
was not pleasant to feel oneself so completely outclassed and left
behind at the beginning of the race. Winston Churchil
He told me that his teachers reported that . . . he was mentally slow,
unsociable, and adrift forever in his foolish dreams.-Hans Albert
Einstein, on his father, Albert Einstein
I, myself, was always recognized . . . as the "slow one" in the family. It
was quite true, and I knew it and accepted it. Writing and spelling
were always terribly difficult for me. My letters were without
originality. I was . an extraordinarily bad spel er and have remained
so until this day. Agatha Christie
My teachers say I'm addled . . . my father thought I was stupid, and I
almost decided I must be a dunce. Thomas Edison
Young George . . . although he was bright and intelligent and
bursting with energy, he was unable to read and write. Patton's wife
corrected his spelling, his punctuation, and his grammar.-Biographer
Martin Blumenson on General George Patton
My problem was reading very slowly. My parents said "Take as long
as you need. As long as you're going to read, just keep at it." We
didn't know about learning disabilities back then.-Roger Wilkins,
Head of the Pulitzer Prize Board
I was one of the 'puzzle children' myself -- a dyslexic . . . And I stil
have a hard time reading today. Accept the fact that you have a
problem. Refuse to feel sorry for yourself. You have a challenge;
never quit!. Nelson Rockefeller
Additional Resources can be found by the following links:
This website lets you choose a state and will give you a list of local
This website is a health-based website, which gives information on
disorders including reading.
This website is the National Center for Learning Disabilities and
gives information on dyslexia as well as many other forms of
learning disabilities. It gives information from people in the health
This is a dyslexia website for teachers (link also for parents and
students) to answer teacher’s questions about dyslexia and to keep
them updated with what they can do to help their students.
This link takes one to the British Dyslexia Association webpage,
which includes source to find out if one has dyslexia as well as
give some information to teacher.
This link is from a special education department, which gives
sources on websites dealing with dyslexia.
This link gives some adaptive technology a teacher can use in the
Castles, Anne, Helen Datta, Javiar Gaven and Richard K. Olson, “Varieties of
Developmental Reading Disorder: Genetic and Environmental Influences,”
Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 72 (1999): p. 73-94 (1)
“Consumer: Disorders and Conditions: Reading Disorders” Health: athealth.com.
http://www.athealth.com/Consumer/Disorders/reading.html (assessed April 4,
“Dyslexia learning disability in reading” National Center for Learning Disabilities.
April 4, 2005). (3)
“Dyslexia: Science Tracer Bullets Online” The Library of Congress: Especially for
Researchers: Research Centers
http://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/tracerbullets/dyslexiatb.html (accessed March 2,
“Giving Homework” Dyslexia Teacher http://www.dyslexia-teacher.com/t63.html
(Assessed April 5, 2005). (5)
Lyon, G. Reid, “The NICHD Research Program in Reading Development, Reading
Disorders and Reading Instruction: The NICHD Research Program in Reading
Development, Reading Disorders and Reading Instruction: Environmental,
Experiential, and Individual Difference Factors,” National Center for Learning
(assessed March 2, 2005). (6)
Ricco, Nina. “Understanding Dyslexia” Current Health 2 26, no. 8 (Apr/May 2000): p.
Shaywirtz, Sally E. M.D. and Bennett A. Shaywitz, M.D., “The Neurobiology of Reading
and Dyslexia” Focus of Basis Vol 5, Issue A (August 2001)
http://ncsall.gse.harvard.edu/fob/2001/shaywitz.html (accessed March 2, 2005).
“Toward a Research-Based Assessment of Dyslexia: Using Cognitive Measures to
Identify Reading Disabilities” Journal of Learning Disabilities 36 no6
(November/December 2003): 505-516. (9)
Vinegrad, Michael. “I think I might be Dyslexic - Adult Dyslexia Checklist” The British
Dyslexia Association. http://18.104.22.168/main/information/adults/a03check.asp
(Assessed March 4, 2005). (10)
* The last item from a source is the item with the number next to it.