Specific Learning Disorder in Reading

Under new diagnostic criteria (DSM-V), Dyslexia is now referred under the umbrella term of Specific Learning Disorder (SLD) with an impairment in Reading. Diagnosis of any SLD is followed by a description of the specific area(s) of impairment a child presents with, and is established through a clinical evaluation of the individual’s developmental, medical, educational, and family history, analysis of test measures and clinical observations. Learning difficulties cannot be better accounted for by intellectual disabilities, trouble with visual or auditory acuity, other neurological disorders, and psychosocial adversity among others.

Specific Learning Disorder in Reading is ‘‘best described as an unexpected difficulty learning to read’’ (Child Mind Institute). Children with a SLD in Reading demonstrate persistent difficulties in various aspects of reading, such as with phonology, recognition and manipulation of sounds in language, decoding and retrieving words, writing and spelling. These struggles must be evident during formal years of schooling, classified to be well below the expected age average and must significantly impede on academic achieve- ment, occupational performance and daily living. SLD with an impairment in Reading has been shown to be very common as Dr. Sally Shaywitz, co-director of the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity, has estimated one in five children who struggle with a learning disorder present with a reading impairment.

As a result of the associated deficits, many children with a SLD in Reading present with a discrepancy between their ability and school achievement. For example, children with reading difficulties may not necessarily be failing in school. This is because with an extra amount of effort pueutroinpe,atnhfaemyilytahererapay.beule to keep up with work. However as school demands to read fluently (i.e., quickly, easily and automatically) increase, the differences between children with and without reading difficulties become more apparent. Despite this discrepancy, research importantly highlights that intellectual ability and reading in dyslexic children are dissociated in that they develop through separate pathways.

Ferrer et al. (2010) strongly demonstrated that in children with dyslexia, an individual can have a very high IQ but present with low level reading. Although, there are several strategies that children with reading impairment learn to adopt and in turn compensate effectively for their weaknesses, SLD in Reading is a neurological condition and thus is stable in that reading difficulties are present throughout adolescence and adulthood (e.g. Shaywitz et al., 1999).

For more information on SLD in Reading, such as risk factors, common symptoms and how we can support children with reading difficulties, please refer to our information sheet below: