What Is a Reading Disability and Is There More Than One Type?

Juliet D'cruz

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During the 2019-2020 school year, 14% of all public school students received special education services. The 1975 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) gives students with learning liabilities access to these services. 

Many of the students who use the services provided by IDEA have a specific learning disability (SLD). Of those students, an overwhelming majority said their SLD is a reading disability. Since reading disabilities are common, let’s learn more about them. 

This article will teach you about different types of reading disabilities and how doctors diagnose them.

What Is a Reading Disability?

A reading disability is when someone has difficulty reading words or understanding the words they read. Often, people think a reading disability is the same as Dyslexia.

However, Dyslexia is only one type of reading disorder. In addition, there are a few other types of reading disorders based on how the brain processes words. 

It is important to note that people with a reading disability do not have lower intelligence or lack the will to learn. 

Types of Reading Disorders

Currently, researchers say there are three different developmental reading disabilities.

The first is a phonological deficit. People with this deficit have difficulty breaking down the sounds of spoken language. This includes breaking words into sounds, syllables and blending them. 

They also struggled with phonological awareness, which affects reading accuracy.

The second is processing speed or orthographic processing deficit. This deficit affects the speed and accuracy of recognizing printed words. This is also known as reading fluency.

For example, when looking at a text, they have difficulty pairing letters with their appropriate sounds.

Those with Dyslexia experience phonological and orthographic challenges. Some may face only one of these challenges, while others experience both.

The third is a comprehension deficit. Someone with a reading comprehension disorder struggles to understand the meanings of the words they read. This deficit is often found in combination with the first two. 

People with a comprehension disorder may be fluent readers. However, it can occur in both their reading and listening skills.

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How is a Learning Disorder Diagnosed?

One way professionals can identify learning disorders is by using the severe discrepancy model. The discrepancy model compares a child’s intellectual ability with their progress in school. Then, using a set of tests, experts can see a discrepancy between the scores. 

On the other hand, the response to intervention model (RTI) is a process that monitors a student’s progress. Teachers and school systems use the data to see which students need more support. RTI is a newer approach that is customizable for each student.

Both methods are widely used in school systems across the country. So, if you think your child is experiencing a learning disorder, it is best to schedule an assessment.

Institutions like the Read Academy offer assessments for children to get them a diagnosis. They also offer courses and tutoring programs for those who need extra help.

Conquer Your Disability

There is often shame around having a learning disorder. But, the reality is, learning disorders are more common than you think. So, if you or someone you know has a reading disability, know that overcoming any challenges associated with the disability is possible! 

There are many resources available for people who have a learning disability. To read more, check out the Education section.

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