The 9 Main Causes of Reading Difficulty

Check the patterns below to see which are familiar

If you understand why a child is struggling to read or spell, helping them usually becomes easy.  This is at the heart of our approach to achieving success. We always want to know what the problem has been and what needs to change. Otherwise you are just hoping for the best!

After more than ten years of research, working directly with thousands of different children and adults, we currently track the patterns of eight different possible causes of difficulty.

Do any of the following patterns sound familiar?

Pattern 1 — Guessing short words and poor spelling

Have you seen lots of guessing with the short, easy words? Sometimes you may have seen a word read fine on one page and then not on the next page. Pretty frustrating, isn’t it!? These children also have very poor spelling in their free writing, although they can often do well in spelling tests.

Well, fear not…! It is easy to fix.  Learn more

Pattern 2 — Struggling to decode long words

Does your child decode short words okay, but really struggle with long words?

This is generally linked to a weak short term auditory memory. It does make reading development harder, but there are ways to smooth the path.  Read more.

Pattern 3 — Skipping words and whole lines of text

Have you seen your child struggling some days and not others? On a bad day, have you seen lots of skipping of words and misreading of words that you know your child can read?

These are the patterns of a child who has some eye convergence and eye tracking difficulty. Around 30% of the children we help show signs of this and simple exercises can fix it in a few days. Learn more.

Pattern 4 – Difficulty with blending sounds

Have you seen your child really struggling to put a word together from the individual sounds, even with quite short words. This is usually due to a bit of developmental delay in the auditory processing cortex. That is often caused by a bit of “glue ear” when they are very small. You may notice a bit of speech difficulty too at times.

WIth the right help you will see good progress. Learn more.

Pattern 5 – Battles and meltdowns

Reading practice can often turn into a tantrum, or you may alternatively see a sullen silence. Both patterns are caused by the same thing. The normal stress systems are going into a spiral and the fight or flight mechanisms are being engaged.

This can be reversed with some simple techniques. Learn more.

Pattern 6 – Very poor fluency

Some children are quite good at decoding, but they never start to read the words fluently. This can be like listening to a machine gun of word sounds making up the words, using phonic rules, But it never turns into proper reading.

We have a basic little technique for fixing this. Learn more.

Pattern 7 – Words “moving around on the page”

Sometimes you will see a child in clear distress, just trying to look at the words on the page. This might be some eye tracking and convergence difficulty (see above), but it may also be some contrast sensitivity.

This can be fixed instantly with some simple acetate sheets. Learn more.

Pattern 8 – Poor focus while trying to read

When we see this it is usually due to contrast sensitivity or eye tracking weakness. But it can also be triggered by some attention deficit.

However, if it is an ADD issue, you can still make progress easier with the right reading materials and lesson routine. Learn more.

Pattern 9 – Good decoding but poor comprehension

If a child struggles with comprehension after learning to decode and read with fluency, then that can be due to what we call “No Little Voice Syndrome”. This is incredibly rare. It happens when the reader is bypassing a bit of the auditory cortex, called Wernicke’s Area (crucial for comprehension). We have a specific exercise that can help budge that, though it does take some time. You can email us for more information.