When a student struggles with reading, their difficulties can go beyond the inability to decode symbols and transform them into spoken language. There are many children who are poor readers; however, there are also many who read accurately and fluently but cannot understand what they read. Reading comprehension deficits are not as easy to detect and here is why: when a student reads fluently, very rarely are they asked about the meaning of what they have read. They are praised for reading well and it can be assumed that comprehension follows. There are several factors that contribute to a reading comprehension problem, making it a “hidden disability.” To appropriately address the problem, pinpointing the underlying causes is critical.

It is important to determine if decoding or fluency is the culprit. This is easy to do with appropriate standardized testing. A learning disability in reading comprehension likely involves difficulty with language processing and visual reasoning, or could be the result of an underlying condition, such as Dyslexia or ADHD. If a student has a visual processing difficulty, contacting a developmental optometrist for a functional vision exam and vision therapy program may be the answer. In order to explore this hidden reading problem, gathering a little more information is required.

Students who struggle with comprehension may experience deficits in other areas as well, such as math, history, or science, since these subjects involve reading, understanding, and written explanations. If there is confusion about the meanings of words and sentences, connections between ideas cannot be made, and distinguishing important information from minor details is not possible. Because of this, many classes other than English will be challenging for the student.
An important step is to take notes on what you are seeing. As you observe your child, patterns may begin to emerge, and it is worthwhile to share these with his/her teacher or educational professional.

If you believe your child has a learning disability in reading comprehension, diagnostic reading and language testing is a good place to start. At Strategic Learning Clinic, we perform comprehensive assessments that also consider visual perceptual, attention, memory, and cognitive skills. To schedule an evaluation, contact info@strategiclearning.ca or call (514) 966-1553.