Is Your Child Struggling with Reading Because of Reading Disabilities or Reading Difficulties?

Your child is struggling with reading. You and/or the school have concerns. Now what? Does this mean your child has reading disabilities or dyslexia? Are there other reading difficulties playing a role? What can you do to best support your child with reading?

Perhaps the school or someone else has recommended an assessment. While an assessment can be a fantastic way to prove that your child needs help with reading and/or get an IEP in place, it still may not give you the answers or tools for help that you desperately crave. Why? Because the help your child needs will depend on what’s at the root of your child’s struggle with reading.

Let me explain…

homework help for children with reading disabilities

Diagnosing Reading Disabilities

Where I live, a diagnosis of reading disabilities typically comes following a psychoeducational assessment. This means that both an IQ test (through a WISC) and an achievement test (such as a WIAT) are done. The IQ test has 5 indices measured. They are Verbal Comprehension, Visual Spatial, Fluid Reasoning, Working Memory, and Processing Speed. The achievement test (WIAT) determines where the individual currently scores in reading, writing, math and oral language.

In order for a reading disability to be diagnosed, there has to be a discrepancy between scores in the IQ portion and the reading portion of the achievement testing. 

How Reading Disabilities are Diagnosed Varies Between Regions

Please note that how reading disabilities are diagnosed may differ depending on where you live. This is due to recognizing that reading achievement is often more linked to oral language abilities as opposed to overall intellectual ability. 

Therefore, how reading disabilities are clinically diagnosed varies from region to region. Regardless of how a diagnosis is made, background information is also considered. This includes types and length of any interventions already tried. Response to interventions is also important.

What a Reading Difficulty Does NOT Mean

A difficulty with reading does NOT mean that your child lacks in intelligence in ANY way. It is simply recognition that your child is not reading at a level that would be expected based on someone of his/her level of intelligence. In fact, Steven Spielberg, Richard Branson, Jamie Oliver, and Octavia Spencer have each been diagnosed with dyslexia! 

So What is Dyslexia?

I feel it’s necessary to define dyslexia as there is often discrepancy in how people define this term. For the purposes of this blog post, Oxford dictionary’s definition is perfect:

Dyslexia is a general term for disorders that involve difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters, and other symbols, but that do NOT affect general intelligence. 

Oxford Dictionary

Dyslexia is not in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disoders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). According to the American Psychiatric Association, this is because “the many definitions people have for dyslexia result in the term not being useful as a disorder name or diagnostic criteria.

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The Problem with A Diagnosis of Reading Disabilities

Although assessments have the ability to prove that additional support is necessary for your child and get an official IEP in place, the reason your child is struggling with reading in the first place is often overlooked. 

This means that what’s at the root of your child’s reading difficulties is too often NOT targeted. 

To make this even more problematic is the fact that many individuals diagnosed with reading disabilities actually have other factors playing a role that result in the individual’s reading difficulty. Because of this, I am confident in saying that reading disabilities are frequently misdiagnosed.

How do I confidently say that reading disabilities are frequently misdiagnosed?

I can confidently say this because, between my experiences with helping my own children with reading and the many students I’ve worked with, I recognize that a diagnosis of reading disabilities only scratches the surface. It only confirms that the individual diagnosed isn’t reading at a level that would be expected based on other scores, such as one’s level of intelligence.

When I look at my own children, the real answer was first discovering what was at the root of their difficulties with reading. The next step was to target that specific root. Once this happened, their struggles with reading became practically non-existent! Neither would meet criteria for a reading disability if assessed today.

Statistically, one in five individuals continues to struggle with reading despite traditional reading intervention. Sadly, this means that 20% of our children are getting left behind whether or not diagnoses are given.

Parents, along with teachers, do everything they know how to, to make this better. Desire to help is NOT the problem. 

Understanding HOW to help is the problem.

To make things worse, reading difficulties take a toll on our children’s self-esteem and self-confidence. Our children too often become focused on their difficulties with reading as opposed to their strengths in other areas.

The Solution

To most effectively support your child with reading, understanding what’s at the root of your child’s specific reading difficulties is necessary. This is true whether children are diagnosed with reading disabilities or are simply found to have reading difficulties.

The one thing that has bothered me more than anything in my teaching career was staring blankly at parents following the question, “Why is my child struggling with reading?”

After all, general teaching education and practice do NOT cover the WHY behind numerous reading disabilities let alone how to then work through them with children!

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When Things Truly Changed for Me

I, like many educators, believed that using a specific program or teaching method would work for practically everyone. If I only really hammered those strategies home, then the child will eventually get it, right?!? 

However, in reality, the gap between how the struggling readers were reading and what would be expected of other individuals their age too often remained. I don’t like admitting this, but it’s sadly true.

Then I had the experience of having two of my own children struggle with reading. Let me tell you, that passion as a parent to find answers is strong!

My Experience with My Children and Reading

You see, my own children had ALL of the traditional methods of teaching reading provided both AT HOME and AT SCHOOL! I had specific training so thought I knew what I was doing. I read to them, had them read to me, and did all of the ‘right’ things. 

So why did I have the screaming child doing everything possible to avoid reading in my own home? Why did 2 of my children read easily all along and 2 of my other children struggle with reading?

My Search for Answers Behind My Children’s Reading Difficulties

To be honest, a lot of the answers I was searching for came as a result of good timing. I was looking for answers and suddenly saw opportunities for me to enroll in information or training sessions for various alternative methods. Some of these methods were a result of trying to find solutions that would actually work for my own children. Others came about because my mom had suffered a brain injury and I was looking up therapies that could help to support her recovery. 

What resulted from the nearly $40,000 I spent figuring this out was amazing! I tried some of what I learned with my own children and saw INCREDIBLE results in their reading in a short amount of time.

I Knew I Had to Dig Deeper

What surprised me at the time is that each of my two children that struggled with reading required separate approaches from each other when it came to their reading. I discovered that the roots of their reading difficulties were not the same. What worked for one was NOT what the other needed! When I targeted the root of each of their specific reading difficulties, results came quickly!

What a relief when the end result is that each and every one of my children love to read today! The fact that they are able to do this without a struggle is such a blessing!

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My Quest for More Answers

This is when I knew that I had to dig deeper. I had to closely analyze reading profiles so I could say with confidence that it’s best to try one method over another for specific reading difficulties to achieve the BEST results in the MOST EFFICIENT time frame.

Eventually, I broke it down and started using my own system when working with other children. The numerous gains in reading were exciting! I went from working with children that indicated they would rather be puking than reading to seeing their faces light up when it was time to read. 

No more staring blankly at parents when asked why their child is reading below grade level!

What this Means for You

I started Y Literacy because I’m on a mission to help other parents work efficiently through the reading process with their struggling young readers.

I condensed my findings in an eBook, Reading Made Easy. This eBook is specifically designed for parents of struggling young readers who continue to struggle with reading despite working through traditional methods. If you are looking for a general gist of what’s at the root of various reading difficulties and how reading difficulties vary, Reading Made Easy is perfect for you! It breaks down 9 different roots of reading difficulties and goes through what each looks like in your child. Simple and targeted solutions for working through each root with your child are offered in Reading Made Easy as well. All this for just $17!

Y Literacy also offers a step-by-step premium program, Winning at Reading, to help parents work through helping their child’s reading go from struggling to stellar. You can learn more about Winning at Reading here. I know this program is unlike anything else on the market and I’m super excited to share it with you! As parents, you know your child best and ARE equipped to support him/her with reading.

If you aren’t already receiving emails from Y Literacy, be sure to sign up. As a thank you gift, you will also get free access to my pdf guide, 10 Crucial Steps to Take When Your Child Struggles with Reading.

What About You?

Do you have a struggling young reader in your life? If so, what has been your frustration in helping your child with reading? Alternatively, what wins have you had when it comes to helping him/her with reading? Let us know in the comments below!

16 thoughts on “Is Your Child Struggling with Reading Because of Reading Disabilities or Reading Difficulties?”

  1. As a language arts teacher, it makes me happy that you are focusing on students with reading problems. Too often people write these students off and use one size fits all strategies to “help.” You’re right that you have to determined the root cause of the reading issue if you want to be successful at helping the student.

    1. Thank you so much, Kimberlie! You are so correct that these students are too often written off. They are capable of much more with the correct help and definitely deserve better!

    1. Thank you, Dana! I know of too many parents that feel completely lost in the process when their children struggle with reading, yet it shouldn’t be this way.

  2. As a reading specialist, I agree that learning needs to be tailored to the individual student. This can only be done by experimenting with a variety of reading strategies and techniques. It sounds like you have done your own experimenting and found several solutions for your children. Nice work!

    1. Thank you, Maria! I definitely agree that learning needs to be tailored to the individual student and that experimenting with a variety of reading strategies and techniques is helpful. I have definitely done a lot of experimenting in this area and the results are exciting! 😀

  3. I had all of these wonderful things I wanted to say about your informative article…then I read the part about puking instead of reading. 🙂
    Made me smile and giggle because that is the TRUTH. I taught for 20 years in the public school system, and I have heard this comment before. Ha ha ha!!

    1. Haha, it certainly is the truth! It’s those kids that I get most excited about as they transform into lovers of reading. 😀

    1. Hang in there! Checking out various approaches may be necessary for you and your family as well. Don’t hesitate to reach out at any time along the way.

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