The 8 Causes of Reading & Spelling Difficulty
Our focus is entirely on what is actually stopping each child progress with their reading and spelling. And over the past ten years of testing and researching, we have found that there are eight main causes of reading difficulty, which are listed below. With the spelling we have found just one problem; the children are sight reading the words, rather than decoding them.
We do not worry about whether someone has dyslexia or not, the solution to the problem is the same. The key to making progress easy for someone is to understand exactly why it has been difficult:
Of course you may find that a person is struggling with a mix of these different factors. It is important to be open to the different patterns they lead to, so that the right help is delivered.
Can people with dyslexia learn to read well? Most certainly most of the time. Are they still dyslexic? That depends on your definition of dyslexia.
Instant Reading Difficulty Diagnostic Tool
Would you like an instant online assessment of the cause of your child's reading difficulty?
Just click the link below and we will start to explore what is probably causing the problem:
Here is a chart of the main symptoms you will see, what the root of the problem is and one potential solution:
|"Recognises" some words and guesses others, using the context and first letter
||Optilexia due to visual processing of the text (Optilexia), without engagement of the auditory cortex
||Easyread is specially designed to deal with this.
|Can read single words OK, but tends to struggle with a sentence or paragraph
||Exercises built into Easyread.
|Complains of the text "moving around" on the page
||Coloured films or tinted glasses, obtained from a trained optician.
|Is able to decode words, but only very slowly and struggles with long words and remembering the meaning in the sentence
||Poor short term memory
||Steady daily practice, delivered by Easyread potentially, to move the reading process from declarative to procedural memory.
|Can read words and sentences quite fluently but does not understand what he or she has just read
||Activation of the auditory processing paths through the brain cortex, developed by a daily Easyread lesson
|Enthusiastic but finds it hard to sit still and concentrate on reading
||Heightened engagement through game activities and entertainment, delivered by Easyread
|Can read OK sometimes, but tends to get into a stress spiral of failure-stress-failure.
||Improved psychology developed through the support and encouragement delivered through a daily Easyread lesson.
|Can decode but never progresses to fluent reading
||Activation of the "letterbox" to improve decoding fluency.
A Truly Massive Problem
Globally around 20% of English-speaking children reach the age of 11 unable to read confidently. Depending on who you talk to, the amount of dyslexia in the population varies from 5-15%.
Even after ten years of familiarity with that figure, I still find it amazing; one in five children unable to read the blackboard after 5 years at school. If it is the first time you have seen it, you will probably be struggling to believe it. However, as you walk down the street of an average town in England, America, Canada, Australia or New Zealand, every seventh person you pass will be unable to read properly. Imagine doing 10 years at school unable to read the board.
It is a massive problem and there is a lot of confusion as to what the reasons are. For instance, it is difficult to find two definitions of dyslexia that are the same.
Some non-readers are "diagnosed" as dyslexic while others are not. Frankly I still cannot tell you why, even though I am an expert in this field. So don't be surprised if you are confused too. The definition of dyslexia is not something that is agreed on. Generally the people who have to pay for the support of dyslexics have a tighter definition than the people who are supporting and lobbying on behalf of dyslexics.
What is Going On?
I first got into literacy through my work in The Shannon Trust (www.shannontrust.org.uk). We developed a system to get literate prison inmates helping their non-reading peers to learn. 67% of prisoners could not read at that time. But we found that they could learn to read in just a few months with the right guidance.
So, there was no underlying reason why most of them had not learnt in the first place. Many of them cracked it in just 4-5 months even though they had thought themselves dyslexic. That is as fast as you or I did. In fact it is a lot faster than I did!
As a result of this revelation, I have spent the last few years investigating the nature of reading difficulties, why people are labelled dyslexic and what the real causes of difficulty are. That is the basis to finding solutions.
There are so many myths and misunderstandings surrounding Dyslexia, that it becomes difficult to see the wood for the trees. Being dyslexic is also often viewed as an "untreatable" condition. Some people even say that it is even "unprofessional" to suggest that dyslexia is something that can be treated or helped. Our experience is that most dyslexics can become excellent readers, even if they are still viewed as dyslexic.
The Truth About Dyslexia
The word dyslexia means " to have more difficulty learning to read and dealing with text than would be expected for a given cognitive ability ". So it is a specific difficulty with reading and words relative to the person's general intelligence.
Anything more complex than that can be very dangerous (in my view...!), because it often begins to link dyslexia to one or more of the personality traits often seen in children who happen to also have difficulty with reading. That is a distraction from the actual underlying reasons for the difficulty.
For instance, high creativity is often cited as part of dyslexia. The reality is that many dyslexics are dyslexic because they are very strong visual learners. Visual learners are often very artistic and creative. However, being creative has nothing directly to do with reading difficulty.
The truth is this:
There is no single dyslexia cause or condition. There are several possible reasons why a child might struggle with reading. It is, after all, a very complex brain process.
When you understand in detail why an individual child is struggling to read it is usually easy to work out how to overcome the difficulty. It then does not really matter whether they have dyslexia or not.
There are a lot of dyslexia organisations that can give you support as a dyslexic, although they are not so strong on helping people learn to read. They are also the voice of dyslexics in the media and with governments:
Dyslexia Online Magazine
Articles about dyslexia for teachers and parents.
World of Dyslexia
European Dyslexia Association
World Dyslexia Network Foundation (WDNF)
Dyslexia Australia and New Zealand
Dyslexia Hong Kong
Dyslexia India - Maharashtra Dyslexia Association
British Dyslexia Association
Adult Dyslexia Organisation
The Dyslexia Centre
The Dyslexia Institute
American Institutes of Dyslexia
American Dyslexia Association