A place for teachers and other providers of special education services to support each other, share information, and discuss topics, including assessment.

The Cause and Elimination of Reading Disability

Bob Zenhausern

The vast majority of reading disability stems from the way we typically teach reading. Neuropsychologists speak of the indirect phonological route to meaning which in Education terms translates into phonetic decoding. The printed word is converted to its sound and from that sound we derive meaning. It is rather convoluted but amazingly effective. I learned that way and so did many others. It has advantages in case you come across an unfamiliar word that is in your auditory vocabulary and is phonetically regular. One disadvantage is that it must be unlearned for someone to practice speed reading. But the major disadvantage is that some people cannot make that conversion and we label them as reading disabled.

Teach to strength is a primary directive of education, but with respect to phonetic decoding this is ignored. An exception is the deaf for whom phonetic decoding makes no sense. But in general remediating the defective system is the establishment approach. Organizations such as Orton Gillingham are based it. Books and courses are based on fixing a broken system. Why can't reading disabled students have the same advantages as deaf students?

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High school Study Skills and Reading/Writing teacher near Atlanta, GA

The speech pathologist at my

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The speech pathologist at my school recommended the Gillingham training, though getting it paid for by the system could be difficult. I've worked with SRA and Read 180, and Read 180 was the better of the two. However, I really want a more effective way of teaching reading intervention, especially at the high school level.

I've never thought about how we teach decoding to deaf students; how DO we teach it? (Thanks for the post!)

Learning Resource Teacher, Ontario, Canada

Could you elaborate a little

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Could you elaborate a little more on what you are suggesting. The same advantages as deaf students? I'm not sure what you mean by this.
I am a Learning Resource Teacher and I teach the Empower Reading program to students in grade 2 or 3 that are really struggling with reading. It results in big improvements for some and for others (usually those that are later diagnosed with an LD) it only helps a bit. I find that the group of children that still struggle are able to apply the phonetic strategies, but like you said have a lot of difficulty becoming fluent readers. I'm not sure what the answer is- I continued to encourage frequent reading practice and re-reading of the same text to build confidence and fluency, but I wish there were something more. I also train these kids on assistive technology which definitely helps with their ability to read and write. Anyway I'd be certainty interested on any input regrading how to build reading speed in fluency in those kids that are really struggling.

Children with phonetic difficulties

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Children with phonetic difficulties should never read aloud. Ask them to summarize in their own words what they read See what happens when you ask them to summarize.

If you want to put yourself in their shoes, think what it feels like when you have a "tip of the tongue". These children have a chronic "tip of the tongue". They feel frustrated because they know the answer but cannot get it out.

Learning Resource Teacher, Ontario, Canada

Thanks! I have never really

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Thanks! I have never really thought of it like that. Putting the emphasize on their ability to summarize or get information from what they read really allows them to focus on what is truly important about reading and it allows them to experience more success. Perfect :) !

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