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Reading Fluency Disability In Children


What is a reading fluency disability (RFD)?

An RFD is a learning disability that prevents your child from being able to read well. A learning disability means your child has trouble with an academic skill even though tests show he is intelligent. Fluency means the speed and accuracy of reading. Your child may read accurately but very slowly. He may have trouble recognizing words and spelling correctly. An RFD may develop because of problems with timing and processing information quickly. It may develop because of problems storing and recalling letters that form the words. Your child may develop an RFD if he has trouble concentrating long enough to read accurately.

What are the signs and symptoms of an RFD?

  • Spelling phonetically (sounding out the word) but not accurately
  • Reading slowly, with a lack of comprehension (understanding) of what was read
  • Making mistakes when reading aloud
  • Trouble remembering the meaning of words he already learned
  • Trouble recognizing written words

How is an RFD diagnosed?

Your child's teachers may notice that your child reads slowly. He may need to sound out words as he reads aloud, and he may make mistakes as he reads. He may also have trouble answering questions about what he read. Healthcare providers may show him a list of words and ask him to name as many as he recognizes in a certain amount of time. If the number of words he recognizes is lower than expected for his age, he may have an RFD.

How is an RFD managed?

  • Language experts such as a speech therapist or reading specialist may work with your child. The experts will help improve his word recognition skills by having him practice naming words he sees. They will also give him more practice reading to help improve his speed and accuracy. Other specialists can help him improve his ability to concentrate and strengthen his memory.
  • An individualized education program (IEP) may be used through high school graduation. The IEP identifies your child's learning needs and helps his teachers understand how to help him learn. The IEP may help your child build skills he will need after high school. He may be able to use other accommodations in college to help him continue to succeed. For example, he may be able to take tests without being timed. This will give him more time to read test questions and write the answers with correct spelling.

What can I do to help support my child?

  • Always encourage your child. Do not tell him reading is easy or that he should be able to read quickly and accurately. These types of comments may make him feel anxious or ashamed about having trouble.
  • Help your child practice word recognition. Be patient as your child learns new words. He may need to read a word more than 10 times before he can remember and use the word easily. It might be helpful to have your child write words on paper that you hang up around the house. Hang the words at your child's eye level. When he has learned a word, remove it from the wall. Save the words and show them to him a few days later to make sure he can still recognize them.
  • Read often with your child. Read stories with your child every night before bed. Have him sit where he can see the words as you read them out loud. Point at words as you read them. Ask him to tell you what he thinks will happen next in the story. This will help him with word recall and story comprehension.
  • Have your child read to you. As he reads, try not to correct mistakes he makes. Give him a chance to read slowly and sound out words he does not recognize. It may be helpful to have him read sentences 2 or more times in a row if he made mistakes the first time. Repetition will help build word recognition and accurate spelling. Have him stop often and tell you what he read. Ask him questions about characters, plot, or facts. Questions will help him build comprehension skills and strengthen reading fluency. Have your child read outside of school and home. For example, have him read road signs and names of familiar restaurants or stores as you drive past them.
  • Do not focus on grades. Praise improvement, such as an improved test score. It is okay to praise a good grade on an assignment or test, but do not make grades the goal.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.