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Reading disabilitiesis a condition in which a sufferer displays difficulty reading resulting primarily from neurological factors. The main conditions in this group of learning disorders are:

The term reading disorder is usually applied where there are reading deficits, but not associated with neurological issues. The deficits are assessed in terms of fluency and reading comprehension and a disorder is identified when reading ability is substatially below what would be expected for a child that chronological age, education and intelligence when other causes such as environmental deprivation, mental retardation, sensory impairment etc can be excluded[1].


There is currently no consensus on how to define all learning disabilities, including reading disability. Definitions have previously been developed by committee in a political context in response to the advocacy of parent groups and the educational system. These definitions have a focus on an unexpected difficulty in reading, with unexpected referring to low achievement in the absence of difficulties in home life, economic disadvantage, interruptions in school, sensorimotor problems, severe emotional disturbance, or developmental delay. The unexpected component has been included in many definitions, including the DSM-IV, and school districts have interpreted this as a discrepancy between measured academic achievement and measured intellectual abiliy. Research based definitions, however, have veered away from a discrepancy between intellect and achievement, and instead have stressed low achievement coupled with poor response to intervention.


In 1916 Paul Ranschburg, a Hungarian psychiatrist, introduced the term Legastheniato describe reading disorders.

Types of Reading Disorders

Reading disabilities


Main article: Dyslexia

Dyslexia is a learning disability that manifests itself as a difficulty with word decoding, reading comprehension and/or reading fluency. It is separate and distinct from reading difficulties resulting from other causes, such as a non-neurological deficiency with vision or hearing, or from poor or inadequate reading instruction.[2] It is estimated that dyslexia affects between 5–17% of the population.[3][4][5] Dyslexia has been proposed to have three cognitive subtypes (auditory, visual and attentional), although individual cases of dyslexia are better explained by the underlying neuropsychological deficits and co-occurring learning disabilities (e.g. attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, math disability, etc.).[6] [4][7][8][9][10] Although not an intellectual disability, it is considered both a learning disability[11][12] and a reading disability.[11][13] Dyslexia and IQ are not interrelated, since reading and cognition develop independently in individuals who have dyslexia.[14]


Main article: Hyperlexia

Hyperlexic children are characterized by having average or above average IQs and word-reading ability well above what would be expected given their ages and IQs.[15] Hyperlexia can be viewed as a superability in which word recognition ability goes far above expected levels of skill.[16] Some hyperlexics, however, have trouble understanding speech.[16] Most or perhaps all children with hyperlexia lie on the autism spectrum.[16] Between 5–10% of autistic children have been estimated to be hyperlexic.[17]

Some people with reading difficulties are able to use phonetic strategies to decode words but have problems with reading comprehension; that is, they struggle to understand what they have read.

Another form of reading difficulty is the lack of reading fluency or reading automaticity. People with this condition are likely to read slowly and to stumble over the words. For them, reading continues to require great effort and often becomes something that they avoid.

A fourth group is emerging, people with preventable reading disorders. The number of students with reading disorders can be considerably reduced by good quality early intervention. This group may not necessarily have an underlying neurological condition but without the intervention can later not be distinguished readily from those who do [18] Reading disabilities are a form of learning disorder that make it difficult for people to read. They include alexia and dyslexia. A reading disability is a condition in which a sufferer displays difficulty reading resulting primarily from neurological factors.


See also: Dyslexia interventions, Management of dyslexia, and List of phonics programs

Remediation includes both appropriate remedial instruction and classroom accommodations.

Selected list of reading disabilities

See also

References & Bibliography

  1. Coleman,A F (2006). Oxford Dictionary of Psychology, 2nd ed. Oxford:OUP.
  2. Stanovich KE (December 1988). Explaining the differences between the dyslexic and the garden-variety poor reader: the phonological-core variable-difference model. Journal of Learning Disabilities 21 (10): 590–604.
  3. McCandliss BD, Noble KG (2003). The development of reading impairment: a cognitive neuroscience model. Ment Retard Dev Disabil Res Rev 9 (3): 196–204.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Czepita D, Lodygowska E (2006). [Role of the organ of vision in the course of developmental dyslexia]. Klin Oczna 108 (1–3): 110–3.
  5. Birsh, Judith R. (2005). "Research and reading disability" Judith R. Birsh Multisensory Teaching of Basic Language Skills, Baltimore, Maryland: Paul H. Brookes Publishing.
  6. Pennington BF, Santerre-Lemmon L, Rosenberg J, et al. (February 2012). Individual prediction of dyslexia by single versus multiple deficit models. J Abnorm Psychol 121 (1): 212–24.
  7. Valdois S, Bosse ML, Tainturier MJ (November 2004). The cognitive deficits responsible for developmental dyslexia: review of evidence for a selective visual attentional disorder. Dyslexia 10 (4): 339–63.
  8. Heim S, Tschierse J, Amunts K (2008). Cognitive subtypes of dyslexia. Acta Neurobiologiae Experimentalis 68 (1): 73–82.
  9. Facoetti A, Lorusso ML, Paganoni P, et al. (April 2003). Auditory and visual automatic attention deficits in developmental dyslexia. Brain Res Cogn Brain Res 16 (2): 185–91.
  10. Ahissar M (November 2007). Dyslexia and the anchoring-deficit hypothesis. Trends Cogn. Sci. (Regul. Ed.) 11 (11): 458–65.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Learning Disorders: MeSH Result. NLM MeSH Browser. URL accessed on 2009-11-06.
  12. Dyslexia. The National Center for Learning Disabilities, Inc.. URL accessed on 2009-11-07.
  13. Dyslexia. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. URL accessed on 2009-11-07.
  14. Ferrer E, Shaywitz BA, Holahan JM, Marchione K, Shaywitz SE (January 2010). Uncoupling of reading and IQ over time: empirical evidence for a definition of dyslexia. Psychol Sci 21 (1): 93–101.
  15. Newman TM, Macomber D, Naples AJ, Babitz T, Volkmar F, Grigorenko EL (April 2007). Hyperlexia in children with autism spectrum disorders. J Autism Dev Disord 37 (4): 760–74.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Grigorenko EL, Klin A, Volkmar F (2003). Annotation: Hyperlexia: disability or superability?. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 44 (8): 1079–91.
  17. Burd L, Kerbeshian J (June 1985). Hyperlexia and a variant of hypergraphia. Percept Mot Skills 60 (3): 940–2.
  18. Fletcher, J.M, Lyon, G. R, Fuchs, L.S, & Barnes, M.A (2007) Learning Disabilities: From Identification to Intervention. The Guildford Press, New York

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