5 THINGS YOU DON’T KNOW ABOUT READING DISABILITIES
Reading Disability Facts
- Research is Inconclusive
- Individualized Teaching Can Help
- Early Intervention is Best
- Life-Long Disability
- Not a Learning Disability
Statistics indicate that at least 10 million U.S. children have reading disabilities. These statistics are staggering when considering the truth that most of these children never grow out of their reading difficulties and continue to struggle through adulthood. Five things you probably didn’t know about such disabilities are that the research is inconclusive, individualized teaching can help, early intervention is best, it’s a life-long disability and it is not a learning disability.
Research is Inconclusive
Researchers have made great strides in the past few decades studying these disabilities, but there is still no consensus on pinpointing the exact causes of reading difficulties. There is no standardized medical or psychological test that can be administered to identify these types of disabilities. Both genetics and the environment, nature and nurture, impact an individual’s ability to process the written word. Scientists agree that reading comprehension disabilities are associated with a person’s genes and can be generationally passed down, but they also concede that the individual’s early life experiences play a major role.
Individualized Teaching Can Help
Research conducted by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) has shown solid evidence that around 20% of children require individualized and direct instruction on the letter sounds system, while the rest of children pick up reading through traditional teaching methods. Experts believe that effective reading program must include all the major components of reading to help prevent and identify early reading problems. Individualized interventions work best for reading comprehension difficulties. These programs are specifically intensive in areas of phonics and phonological awareness.
Early Intervention is Best
Statistics from the Public Library Association reveal that there is a 90 percent likelihood that a poor reader from first grade will remain a poor reader by fourth grade. The trend continues throughout school as shown by Yale University’s research. They explain that ¾ of children who are poor readers in third grade will remain poor readers throughout high school. The NICHD believes that early intervention, preferably before third grade, gives children the best possibility for life-long success. They have found that 90-95 percent of poor readers positively respond to early intervention programs focusing on phonemic awareness.
As children move through school, reading comprehension becomes progressively harder. When reading troubles are not identified early, the gap between the appropriate reading level and the reading level of their disabled peers becomes wider and more difficult to close. Even after graduation, a student’s reading problems will continue to affect their opportunities in furthering their education, career advancement and their social lives. Accommodations can be requested in most higher education schools like audiobooks, spell-checkers, additional time for reading and tape recorders. In adulthood, career choices may be limited based on the individual’s reading skills.
Not a Learning Disability
The National Institutes of Health have undergone decades-long research trials to determine the association between reading disabilities and learning disorders. They have concluded that reading troubles are often exhibited in conjunction with other types of learning disorders, but the two are entirely separate types of disorders. The institutes are undergoing further studies to identify common factors. Children that are identified as poor readers and are targeted for individualized intervention or one-on-one sessions are successfully able to reach an average reading level, while those with learning disabilities do not always respond as positively to such treatment.
Five things researchers have taught us about individuals suffering from a reading disability are that the research is inconclusive, individualized teaching can help, early intervention is best, it’s a life-long disability and it is not a learning disability. One of the most proactive things we can do to help those with reading disabilities is to support early intervention programs and individualized reading programs to ensure the best possible outcome for children who struggle with what many of us take for granted.
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