Children may present with reading disorders that may need a detective to figure out. This article may help you get started on the path to helping your child read more proficiently and with greater ease.
The school says my child has a reading disorder!
Most reading problems are detected in the early elementary levels. Keep in mind that just because a kindergartner is behind some classmates, this doesn’t neccessarily mean the child has a ‘reading disorder’. Children’s development is measured in months, not years, so in many cases, parent’s just need to patient and encouraging.
In other cases, a real problem may be present. All too quickly in the investigative period, the term “dyslexia” comes up. True dyslexia is very rare, and the label is applied prematurely in many cases. Many young children will reverse letters and numbers while they’re learning to write. This is normal. It is not normal however, as the child reaches third grade to routinely reverse letters or numbers. The presence of reversals may indicate a form of dyslexia, however, in other cases, it a ‘perceptual’ vision issue.
What are perceptual vision problems?
Perception is the process of understanding what we see. Letters and numbers are made of distinct shapes and patterns and perception is what our brain does with this information. Many reading problems are rooted in the perceptual process. The child may be very bright, but has trouble putting it all together, making reading and writing difficutl to master.
Dyslexia versus Perceptual Problems
Dyslexia often has at its root a perceptual problem. Therapy to improve perceptual skills can be quite sucessful in many cases. Optometrists who specialize in “Vision Therapy” are trained to determine what the problems actually are, and then to devise a training program to help children perform better.
Are there other causes of reading disorders?
Yes, some children may do very well with perceptual tasks, but may trouble with other skills such as:
- Poor eye movement (saccadic) skills – children make skip words or lines, or re-read words
- Poor focusing (accommodation) – children may have trouble maintaining clear vision up close, or when switching from far vision to near tasks.
- Clarity issues – children may need eyeglasses to focus the words more clearly. Before any therapy is started, children need to have a complete eye examination to be sure the vision is as clear as possible.
- Muscle balance problems – children may see well, and may focus well, but if the eyes are struggling to work together there may be headaches, loss of desire to read, tearing, and eyestrain.
Where can I read more about Reading Disorders?
For more information, take your child to an eye doctor who specializes in pediatrics. Ask them if vision therapy may help your child. In addition, visit the College of Optometrists in Vision Development.