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How do you tell if a child has a reading disability?

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Quick Answer

Signs of a reading disability manifest as challenges in at least one of three developmental areas: decoding, comprehension and retention, according to PBS Parents. Attributed, wrongly, to laziness in the past, reading disabilities cannot be completely overcome by hard work alone.

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Full Answer

Afflicting as many as 15 percent of all Americans, dyslexia is one of the most rampant reading disabilities, states PBS Parents. The hallmark of dyslexia is an inability to break down words into phonemes. Signs that this is a challenge include skipping punctuation when reading, difficulty understanding the difference between letters and the sounds they represent, frequent inability to sound out words and recognize words out of context, and reading in a monotone voice. People with dyslexia often read word for word, thereby making their rate of reading aloud painfully slow.

Without the skill of decoding, many people with dyslexia struggle to understand what is read, explains PBS Parents. There is minimal energy left for comprehension when deciphering individual words is so time consuming. Signs that a person struggles with comprehension include difficulty understanding the meaning of words and sentences, challenges connecting ideas between passages, inability to concentrate while reading and glossing over important details.

The ability to retain information depends largely on a person's ability to decode and comprehend details, states PBS Parents. Signs that this is difficult include a lack of ability in understanding material from multiple perspectives, challenges remembering information, and difficulty making connections between what is read and previous knowledge.

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