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Reading Aloud in Classroom

Learning Disabilities

Learning disabilities are determined to exist when children have difficulty learning even though they have the cognitive capability and have been in an appropriate educational environment. Dyslexia is the term used when individuals have difficulty learning to read. Dysgraphia is the term used when individuals have difficulty with writing. Dyscalculia is the term used when individuals have difficulty with mathematics.

Dyslexia is the most common learning disability. Most people with dyslexia have trouble recognizing the basic sounds of speech (phonemes). They often have trouble connecting the speech sound (the /b/ sound) with the letter symbol for that sound (“b”). Difficulties with phonological processing make it hard for people with dyslexia to sound out words. Because of the time it often takes to sound out a word, the meaning of the word is often lost which can result in poor reading comprehension. Trouble with spelling is often found as well, given the difficulties in putting phonemes together to form words. Some children also have difficulty with orthographic processing. Successful readers use visual memory, or orthographic processing, to retain the way words look in print so they can read fluently. They need to sound out words less frequently because they recognize them from previous exposure. Rapid automated naming (RAN) can also be a concern. This is the ability to rapidly retrieve and orally express information stored in long-term memory. Fluent reading depends on a complex set of cognitive processes that must work together in perfect concert.

Early detection of dyslexia is key to remediation. Warning signs, beginning in preschool and kindergarten, include pronunciation or articulation challenges, difficulty rhyming words, problems learning the connection between letters and sounds, letter reversals, inversions, transpositions, difficulty sounding out words, and resistance to reading activities.​

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