MOMTOURAGE: Are you struggling to figure out why your child struggles with reading?

By Lauren Hagerty

As parents, we are taught to start reading to our children from birth (if not while in the womb!).

Reading is a very complicated and complex task for a young mind, and it includes a lot of different parts of the brain and senses to come together to accomplish this. Kids will learn to read instinctively, or by practicing and memorizing sight words in school. But what if this is not enough? What if your child, no matter how hard they work, still struggles, and you don’t know why?

If you’re a mother of a child where reading is a challenge, your responsibilities as a parent can be overwhelming and stressful. At first, you will be perplexed and repeatedly ask yourself: “Why is my child struggling?” You will scour the internet looking for answers. Then will come the real struggle; your child will not want to read because they feel inadequate, which will only compound the problem.

There are a plethora of reasons why your child could be having difficulty with reading, and we hope to shed some light and share some resources based on our own experiences.

Two moms from The Momtourage will share their stories in the hopes to help you on the journey of helping your child become a better reader. Their names and children’s names will not be shared. As you can imagine, this struggle can be quite emotional. We want to protect these children.

MOMTOURAGE MOM #1: My son is a bright, happy, intelligent child. I’ve noticed that when he reads, all of the words on the sentence come out, but not in the correct order. I’ve also seen that his b’s and d’s are always mixed up. Additionally, he struggles terribly with spelling. He’s understanding what he reads, but is having trouble reading.

CAUSE: Eye-tracking disorder; a developmental delay. It was not noticed or acknowledged by his regular ophthalmologist, teacher, or pediatrician. It was an ophthalmologic specialist, Dr. Stephen Shaby, who helps children with eye-related learning disorders, who made the determination.

How can you self-check for a tracking disorder? Hold a spoon in front of your child’s face, ask them to follow it with their eyes, and, if present, you will most likely see their eyes skip. Some exercises can help strengthen these muscles, such as “go-fish” games, popping bubbles with a pointer finger, and more. There are, of course, other reasons for this as well, but this eye-tracking disorder caught us off guard.

My daughter struggles with handwriting. We spent years trying everything to help her. We used Handwriting Without Tears, hired tutors, played dozens of fine motor games, such as Operation, and bought excessive amounts of tools online (specialized pencils, grips, various lined papers, rulers, workbooks and more) and even had her in consistent occupational therapy for years.

Still, my child was getting older, and her handwriting was barely improving.

As amount of required writing in school increased as she got older, my daughter’s hand was always tired, and even though she tried and worked so hard. No one could read was she was writing.

Letters were big and small. Spacing between words was nonexistent. And capital letters, punctuation, and spelling were inconsistent and often incorrect. We were all tired, frustrated, and confused.

CAUSE: Dysgraphia. After much digging around and testing with a Neuropsychologist, our child was diagnosed with Dysgraphia, a learning disability affecting handwriting and fine-motor skills. There is obviously much more involved in this diagnosis, of course, but quite simply, there was relief because there was a specific reason as to why our daughter was struggling so much. Talk to your school about your concerns with Dysgraphia, or ask your pediatrician for a list of Neuropsychologists in the area if interested in further testing. Occupational Therapy, handwriting practice and continuing to work hard are all still essential, but now we have a reason as to WHY.

My child can read but refuses. Period.

CAUSE: Boredom or lack of interest. If your child knows how to read, but doesn’t want to log in her reading time for school or read for fun, here are a few tricks we’ve learned along the way:

• Leave a few magazines and kids books in the bathroom. Hey, a few minutes of reading on the toilet is still reading, and they’ll reach for one without even thinking about it.

• Subscribe to a few magazines your child loves, such a sports magazines, Boys Life or Girls Life, Highlights, Car magazines your family also enjoys – anything to get them interested.

• Be very, very open to graphic novels –  kids are obsessed with this genre, and they are comfortable, fun reads.

• Some kids love non-fiction and hate fiction—that’s okay, too. Go to the library and get books on history, sharks, Legos – they’ll learn a lot about something they love.

Learning to read and write can be stressful for your child, making it even more stressful for you when they are struggling. If you are a mother whose child is having difficulty, please give us a shout out, we can always meet for coffee and do our best to help.

Medical Disclaimer: Momtourage Media, LLC content is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images, and information, contained on or available through this web site is for general information purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Lauren and Colleen, from The Momtourage

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