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Understanding Reading Problems: Does Your Child Have One?


Schwab Foundation for Learning


Learning and Other Disabilities

Education and Kids

Related Articles

What Is Dyslexia

Helping Children Overcome Reading Difficulties

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The following is an excerpt from the Bridges to Reading booklet. We have included the table of contents for this booklet, as well as the text from the first page of the booklet. You can download the entire Bridges to Reading Kit in Adobe PDF version since there are too many pages (104) to put the website (Note: You need the Adobe Acrobat Reader software in order to view the file). This booklet is one of 5 in the Bridges to Reading Kit.

A Note to Our Readers
Educational and medical specialists use a variety of terms to refer to reading problems. The more commonly used terms "dyslexia, reading differences, and reading problems" are used interchangeably throughout the Bridges To Reading series. In fairness to both genders, we alternate the use of "he" and "she" throughout the books.

  • What Is Dyslexia?
  • What Causes Dyslexia?
  • Children with Dyslexia
  • Identifying Dyslexia in Your Child
  • Other Symptoms of Dyslexia and Related Learning Differences
  • Strategies for Communicating with Your Child's School
  • Letters to School
  • Strategies for Supporting Learning at Home
  • Steps to Success
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Resources
  • Parent Support Worksheet: Understanding Your Child

What Is Dyslexia?

A child is considered to have dyslexia if he or she has difficulty learning to read despite having adequate intelligence, attention, motivation, and exposure to education.
Many children seem to have no trouble at all learning to read. Even when very young, they begin making connections between letters and sounds, sounds and words, words and thoughts. For these children, the process of reading seems simple and natural. For other children, however, learning to read is a continuous struggle.

Difficulties with basic reading and language skills are the most common of all learning disabilities, affecting up to 80 percent of people who have learning problems. According to the National Institutes of Health, one out of every ten children has significant problems with reading skills. Medical and education specialists use many terms to refer to these problems, including "reading differences," "reading disorders," "reading difficulties," and "dyslexia." In Bridges to Reading, we use these terms interchangeably.

Dyslexia is a lifelong condition that affects people all over the world, no matter what language they speak. It is found in both boys and girls, and is often inherited, so it may affect more than one member of a family.

Dyslexia is an "invisible" learning disability-you can't see it when you look at a child, or hear it when you talk to him. As a result, many children with reading difficulties never know why they have learning problems, and never get the help they need.

Recognizing dyslexia is often made even more difficult because specific reading problems vary so much from child to child. Sometimes there are no obvious clues that your child will have reading difficulties. She may have a good speaking vocabulary, play well with friends, and appear to be ready for school. On the other hand, she may be poor at rhyming, slow to talk, or have trouble finding the "right" word when she's speaking or writing.

Whatever her strengths or needs, dyslexia will make it difficult for her to learn to read. With appropriate assessment and corrective actions, however, most children with reading differences can learn to read.

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