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Learning Disability in Reading Comprehension

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Updated July 11, 2014

Students Checking Worksheets

Learning Disabilities in Reading Comprehension

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Understanding Learning Disability in Reading Comprehension:

A learning disability in reading comprehension affects the learner's ability to understand the meaning of words and passages. Students with learning disability in reading comprehension may also struggle with basic reading skills such as decoding words, but comprehension is the greater weakness. Some students with a learning disability in reading comprehension can read aloud with little or no difficulty pronouncing words, but they do not understand or remember what they've read. Reading aloud, their words and phrases are often read with no feeling, no change in tone, no logical phrasing, and no rhythm or pace.

Causes of Comprehension Learning Disability:

A learning disability in reading comprehension likely involves difficulty with language processing and visual reasoning centers of the brain. A learning disability may result from inherited conditions or developmental differences in the brain. A learning disability is not solely due to vision problems, difficulty with hearing or speech, or lack of appropriate instruction.

Symptoms of Learning Disability in Reading:

People with a learning disability in reading comprehension have difficulty understanding the important ideas in reading passages. They have difficulty with basic reading skills such as word recognition. In some cases, they may read aloud with little difficulty but do not understand or remember what they've read. Their phrasing and fluency are often weak. They frequently avoid reading and are frustrated with reading tasks in school. Naturally, reading comprehension problems affect many academic areas.

Teaching for a Learning Disability:

Evaluation can provide information to help educators develop effective strategies. Typical strategies focus on using pre-reading tasks, mediated reading instruction, graphic organizing, and improving comprehension and retention. Teachers use assessment information to identify the specific types of reading problems a student has, and they choose effective strategies to correct the problems. This information is included in the child's IEP. Student progress is measured, and adjustments are made as needed.

Common Misconceptions on Learning Disability:

All students with a learning disability are at-risk for being underestimated in their abilities. People with a learning disability in reading comprehension have general learning ability that is as high as, or higher than their non learning disabled. They simply have a skill deficit in this single area. People with learning disabilities must work harder to get their work done. They may appear as if they are not putting forth effort when in fact, they are just overwhelmed. Learning disabled children know they are behind their peers, which affects their self-esteem and motivation.

Testing and Assessment for a Learning Disability:

Learning disability diagnostic reading tests can be used to determine what specific types of problems are affecting the learner's reading skills. Through observations, analyzing student work, cognitive assessment, and possibly language assessment, educators measure your child's progress and can develop individualized education programs.

Where to Get Help with a Learning Disability:

If you believe you or your child has a learning disability in reading comprehension, contact your school principal or counselor for information on how to request an assessment. If school staff are unable to help you, contact your school district's special education administrator for assistance.

For students in college and vocational programs, their school's advising office can assist with finding resources for assessment and accommodations for their learning disability.

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