Reading Difficulties?


What mystifies many parents is where and
why the reading process breaks down.
Although, problems may occur in any area,
decoding, comprehension, or retention,
the root of most reading problems, in the
view of many experts, is decoding. 

Decoding is the ability to apply your knowledge of
letter-sound relationships, including knowledge of
letter patterns, to correctly pronounce written
words. Understanding these relationships gives
children the ability to recognize familiar words
quickly and to figure out words they haven't
seen before. (

Learning disabled children who have problems
ENCODING have difficulty putting their ideas
into messages they can deliver and that can be
understood by other people. This may mean that
a child has a good idea floating around in his/her
head, but he/she can't put the ideas into a
written story that makes a lot of sense.

Reading Facts:

CMSD kids reading

a.   Roughly 85% of children diagnosed with learning
     difficulties have a primary problem with reading
     and related language skills.

b.  Reading difficulties are neurodevelopmental in nature.

c.  Neurodevelopmental problems don't go away, but
    they do not mean that a student (or an adult) cannot
    earn or progress in school and life.

d.  Most children with reading difficulties can be taught
    reading strategies for success in school.
e.  When children's reading problems are identified early,
    they are more likely to learn strategies that will raise
    their reading to grade level.

Decoding Difficulties

Decoding is the process by which a word is broken
into individual phonemes and recognized based on
those phonemes. For instance, proficient decoders
separate the sounds "buh," "aah," and "guh" in
the word "bag." Someone who has difficulty
decoding, and thus difficulty reading easily,
may not hear and differentiate these phonemes.
"Buh," "aah," and "guh" might be meaningless to
them in relation to the word "bag" on the page.
Experts have no one explanation for this
phenomenon. In some cases, it may reflect
that some people simply require more time to
separate sounds -- time that isn't there.

Signs of decoding difficulties

*  trouble sounding out words and recognizing words out
   of context
*  confusion between letters and the sounds they represent 
slow oral reading rate (reading word-by-word) 
reading without expression 
ignoring punctuation while reading

Try ItTry it yourself. Experience a decoding difficulty.  Click on the hand! 

Comprehension Difficulties

Comprehension relies on mastery of decoding;
children who struggle to decode find it
difficult to understand and remember
what has been read.  Because their efforts
to grasp individual words are so exhausting,
they have no resources left for understanding

Signs of Comprehension Difficulties

*   confusion about the meaning of words and sentences 
*   inability to connect ideas in a passage 
omission of, or glossing over detail 
*   difficulty distinguishing significant information from
    minor details
lack of concentration during reading 

Retention Difficulties

Retention requires both decoding and comprehending
what is written. This task relies on high level
cognitive skills, including memory and the ability to
group and retrieve related ideas. As students progress
through grade levels, they are expected to retain
more and more of what they read. From third grade
on, reading to learn is central to classroom work.
By high school it is an essential task.

Information from the website.
Misunderstood Minds! Visit this link for more information!

What signs are associated with a
reading disorder?

*   poor recognition of the written word
  very slow oral reading
*   many mistakes in oral reading
*   very poor comprehension of what has been read 
Students who suffer from this kind of learning
disorder frequently have:

*   low self-esteem
*   social problems
  increased dropout rate at school

Reading disorders may also be associated with:
* conduct disorder
* attention deficit disorder
* depression
* other learning disorders

A reading disorder is usually brought to
the attention of the child’s parents in
kindergarten or first grade when reading
instruction becomes a very important part

of the classroom teaching.

How is a reading disorder diagnosed?

The person with normal intelligence demonstrates
poor reading skills and no other neurological, visual,
or hearing problems. Some children with very high
intelligence may not have a reading disorder
discovered until later in elementary school.
Because standardized group testing is not accurate
enough to diagnose this disorder, it is very
important that the individual be given special
psychoeducational tests to determine if a learning
disorder is present. Special attention must be given
to the child’s ethnic and cultural background by
the student’s examiner.

How is a reading disorder treated?

The treatment for reading disorders mainly
involves putting the student into a program
with an emphasis on remedial or corrective
reading instruction. Usually the extra help
in reading is supplied to the student through
reading resource classrooms in school, small
class size, or individual tutoring.

Information from:

What parents can do to help at home?

1. Help your child learn the letters
   and sounds of the alphabet.
2. Occasionally point to letters and ask
   your child to name them.
3. Help your child make connections between
   what he/she might see on a sign or in the
   newspaper and the letter and sound work
   he or she is doing in school.
4. Encourage your child to write and spell notes,
   e-mails, and letters using what he knows
   about sounds and letters.
5. Talk with your child about the "irregular"
   words that she'll often see in what she's
   reading. These are the words that don't
   follow the usual letter-sound rules
   Ex. are, the, was, said.  Called 'sight words.' 
6. Consider using computer software that focuses
   on developing phonics and emergent literacy skills.

What teachers can do to help at school!

a.  Have students sort pictures and objects by the
    sound you're teaching.
b.  At each stage, have children say the letter
    sound over and over again.
c.  Teach phonics in a systematic and explicit way.
    If your curriculum materials are not systematic
    and explicit, talk with your principal or
    reading specialist.
d.  Be sure to begin the systematic and explicit
    phonics instruction early; K -first grade would be best.
e.  Help students understand the purpose of phonics by
    engaging them in reading and writing activities that
    requires them to apply the phonics information you've
    taught them.
f.  Use manipulatives to help teach letter-sound
    relationships. These can include counters, sound
    boxes, and magnetic letters.
g.  Provide more of your instruction to students who
    you've divided into need-based groups.

En Español

Agregaremos nuevos artículos a esta sección a medida que
elaboremos y obtengamos material nuevo sobre adolescentes.
Nuestro sitio web hermanado, Colorín Colorado, tiene
muchísima información útil para padres y educadores de
habla hispana.

Escritura basada en los estándares para estudiantes ELL
By Colorín Colorado (2008)
Escribir es comunicación, creatividad y colaboración.
Escribir es un proceso social para los estudiantes ELL,
igual que para cualquier otro escritor. Para los estudiantes
que están aprendiendo inglés lograr el equilibrio entre
escribir bien y respetar los estándares depende de la
calidad del proceso de enseñanza, la práctica y el entorno
de la clase para aprender.

Consejos para Padres de Adolescentes con
Dificultades para Escribir
By Colorín Colorado (2008)
Al graduarse de la escuela preparatoria, se espera
que los estudiantes estadounidenses hayan aprendido
a escribir de manera eficaz para una variedad de
propósitos, desde la redacción de cartas y cuentos
hasta ensayos e informes de investigación. Sin embargo,
a muchos estudiantes de la escuela media y la preparatoria
no les gusta escribir, y los estudiantes que están
aprendiendo inglés como segunda lengua pueden tener especial
dificultad para la escritura. En este artículo veremos algunos
de los motivos por los que los estudiantes más grandes buscan
 evitar la escritura, así como algunas sugerencias para que
usted pueda ayudar a su hijo adolescente a convertirse en
un mejor escritor.

Info gathered from


A learning disability in mathematics is characterized by an unexpected learning problem after a classroom teacher or other trained professional (e.g., a tutor) has provided a child with appropriate learning experiences over a period of time. Appropriate learning experiences refer to practices that are supported by sound research and that are implemented in the way in which they were designed to be used. The time period refers to the duration of time that is needed to help the child learn the skills and concepts, which are challenging for the child to learn. Typically, the child with a math disability has difficulty making sufficient school progress in mathematics similar to that of her peer group despite the implementation of effective teaching practices over time.


Studies have shown that some students with a math disability also have a reading disability or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD). Other studies have identified a group of children who have only a math disability.

Several Sources of a Math Disability:

When a child is identified as having a math disability, his difficulty may stem from problems in one or more of the following areas: memory, cognitive development, visual-spatial ability, and speech and language delays.


Memory problems may affect a child’s math performance in several ways. Here are two examples:

*A child might have memory problems that interfere with his ability to retrieve (remember) basic arithmetic facts quickly.

*In the upper grades, memory problems may influence a child’s ability to recall the steps needed to solve more difficult word problems, to recall the steps in solving algebraic equations, or to remember what specific symbols (e.g., å, s, π, ≥) mean.

Speech-Language Pathologists are the specialists who target and remediate memory deficits.

Cognitive Development

Students with a math disability may have trouble because of delays in cognitive development, which hinders learning and processing information. This might lead to problems with:

  • understanding relationships between numbers (e.g., fractions and decimals; addition and subtraction; multiplication and division)
  • solving word problems
  • understanding number systems
  • using effective counting strategies


Visual-spatial problems may interfere with a child’s ability to perform math problems correctly. Examples of visual-spatial difficulties include:

  • misaligning numerals in columns for calculation
  • problems with place value that involves understanding the base ten system
  • trouble interpreting maps and understanding geometry.

Children with these types of difficulties should be evaluated by an occupational therapist!!

Math Language

Some children have trouble understanding the meaning of the language or vocabulary of mathematics (e.g., greater than, less than, equal, equation). Unfortunately, unlike reading, the meaning of a math word or symbol cannot be inferred from the context. One has to know what each word or symbol means in order to understand the math problem. For instance, to solve the following problems, a child must understand the meaning of the symbols they contain: (3 + 4) x (6 + 8) =? or 72 < 108 True or False?

These children often benefit from speech and language therapy where they can be taught how to comprehend linguistic and spatial concepts, build vocabulary skills, and improve or expand comprehension of word meanings.

Diane Predrotty-Bryant, PhD. writes for
with additional information added by Lisa-Anne Ray-Byers.

En Espanol

Internet Mathematics Library

For math sites with Spanish
resources, see the Math
Forum's Internet Mathematics

LA BIBLIO: Matemáticas
-una biblioteca de textos electrónicos.

El Paraíso de las Matemáticas
 - apuntes, ejercicios, exámenes,
diccionario, etc.

Olimpiadas Matemáticas

Annual international math

Mailing Lists and Newsgroups

Online discussions. In particular
SNARK (discussion in Spanish).


Supporting math and math education.

for more information.





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