Several research-tested strategies can help children with learning disabilities acquire the skills they need to read:

  • Decoding. Before they can read, kids must learn the letters of the alphabet and understand that the letters are linked to specific sounds. With practice, children can improve these decoding abilities.
  • Phonological awareness. Children practice skills such as dividing words into syllables, identifying and making rhymes, and matching words that start with the same sound. These skills often focus on oral language rather than printed words. (Schuele and Boudreau, Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, Vol. 39, No. 3.)
  • Word recognition. Kids must learn to recognize written words as a whole, rather than just sounding them out phonetically each time they encounter them. (Swanson, Journal of Learning Disabilities, Vol. 32, No. 6.)
  • Comprehension. Older children practice identifying key elements (such as the main idea of a paragraph) to help them understand and remember the meaning of text.

—K. Weir