What Works in Reading: Uncovering the Truth About Reading Disabilities
One child in five has a reading disability. This means that about 10 million youngsters in the United States have difficulty learning to read, with many demonstrating severe problems that can interfere with learning in all academic areas. Research supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health provides insights about children who have the most trouble reading. Sharing this information with parents can help you work together better to identify, support, and teach these children.
Myth 1: Boys are more active than girls, so they are more likely to have reading disabilities. Not true. In fact, as many girls as boys have difficulties learning to read. More boys are identified by teachers in schools because of their tendency to be more rowdy and active than girls.
Myth 2: Reading disabilities can be cured. Actually, unless identified early, the reading disability doesn't go away. It remains with the child through adulthood. With early identification and appropriate instruction I the first grade to early second grade, many children can substantially improve their reading skills.
Myth 3: Reading disabilities result from visual problems that cause children to read letters and words backward. A reading disability is not a visual problem. Most difficulties in learning to read result from problems in understanding that spoken and written words are composed of sound units called phonemes.
Myth 4: A literature-rich environment is the best way to teach a child with a reading disability. Although this is important, some reading-disabled children need direct instruction in phoneme awareness. Structured phonics and literature-based activities must also be provided for students to progress.
Myth 5: Most teachers know how to help reading disabled students. While most teachers are motivated to learn and apply new findings, many report that their coursework and instruction in working with these children is inadequate. One study showed that only 10 percent of our nations' teachers have a solid understanding of the causes of reading disabilities and the best ways to teach reading-disabled youngsters.
Myth 6: Reading-disables children are usually identified early in life. They should be, but they're not. Most of them fail during their first two years and are not identified until their third year. This wait-to-fail model makes it difficult for kids to catch up—and most never do.
Myth 7: You can't identify a reading disability until a child learns to read. Successful screening for reading difficulties can be done with kids as young as 5 1/2.
Myth 8: A child with a reading disability must be taught a different way. All kids benefit from learning about phoneme awareness, sound-symbol relationships (phonics), and reading comprehension strategies. Informed instruction that includes these areas would likely prevent a substantial number of reading difficulties from turning into reading disabilities.