When a child starts to learn to read, you never expect it to be a challenge. Yet 1 in 5 children will have difficulty mastering this essential skill. Most will be diagnosed with dyslexia, and it will be assumed that their brain functions in a way that reading will always be difficult.

The truth is, there can be many underlying causes of reading difficulties. Schools overlook some of these reasons, and cannot mention others because they are medical issues. The general assumption is that symptoms of dyslexia are an indication that the brain is wired in a way that the child has difficulty learning phonics and fluid reading.

There can be underlying issues, often with solutions, that can be identified as the cause of reading challenges. Once uncovered, you can research therapies or programs that can resolve the problem, thus helping the child to become an accomplished reader.

8 Causes of Reading Difficulty

1) Visual spatial learner
You learn better with pictures than words. When you were taught to read they taught you phonetically, and this was hard for the brain to comprehend. Unless you are taught using a visual approach, it will always be difficult when they learn to read. Easyread System is the best visual approach to phonics that I have ever seen. Both my children learned to read with it, and as a parenting coach, I have recommended it to dozens of parents who also saw success.

2) Sight reader instead of phonetic reader
You were taught as a sight reader (memorized words as pictures) instead of as a phonetic reader. In this way you see a word and recall it’s ‘name’ rather than sounding it out. The challenge her is there are thousands and thousands of words, and people cannot memorize all of them, so they struggle to read words they do not remember because they do not know how to sound them out. The child must be taught to read again, this time phonetically, so they can sound out new words and their reading improves with age.

3) Unintegrated ATNR primary reflexes
This reflex is usually integrated when a person crawls. It helps the two sides of the brain talk to each other. When unintegrated the person often shows signs of dyslexia.

4) Stress
Too make stress reduces the brain’s ability to process by 70%. If reading has been a long-term issue, each time the person reads they may have high anxiety about it. This can work against them making it harder to read.

5) Auditory processing problems
When the auditory system is not working right, phonics is extremely difficult. The person requires specialized reading support to help them overcome the challenge and learn to read.

6) Visual processing problems
The eyes are struggling to work together as a team. This can cause issues seeing the text clearly, or the text actually appears to move when the person tries to read it. Tracking is one of the most common visual problems, and makes it very difficult for the person to read a line of test.

eye tracking visual processing problem

Eye tracking difficulties are one of the most common visual processing problems.This example demonstrates how the eyes jump around when the person has a hard time tracking a line of text.

7) Contrast sensitivity
The person may have Irlen Syndrome, a condition where certain spectrums of light cause difficult for the person. This can make high contrast letters on white paper have distortions which make reading very difficult.

distortions caused by Irlen Syndrome

Irlen Syndrome can cause problems with dark text on bright paper. These are examples of distortions seen by people who have Irlen Syndrome.

8) Short term memory deficit
The person may learn to read, but it takes a long time because their short term memory struggles to retain information. In this case A LOT of repetition is key.

Every one of these reasons could cause a person to be diagnosed as dyslexic. In same cases though there is help that can be found. This was the case with both my children who are gifted visual-spatial learners. One had auditory processing disorder and the other had a significant visual processing problem. Using Easyread System, auditory therapies and vision therapy, both my children have learned to read at grade level or better.

The key to helping reading problems is to uncover WHY the person is struggling, so then a solution can be found.

In my practice I can help you figure out the source of your child’s reading difficulties. I can then refer you to the right specialist to help your child overcome the challenges so your child can read with accuracy and ease. Contact me today to set up an appointment to screen your child for learning challenges.

8 Reasons Children Struggle With Reading
Bonnie Landau
Bonnie Landau
Bonnie Landau is a special education advocate and educational consultant in Ventura County, California. Her goal is to help parents find strategies and solutions to help their children succeed in school and in life. Bonnie is the author of Special Ed Mom Survival Guide: How to Prevail in the Special Education Process and Find Life-long Strategies for You and Your Child.