Child Sexual Abuse and their Consequences

Child Abuse

Child sexual abuse is a pressing issue in society today. Moreover, statistically there is a considerable increase in the number of cases related to juvenile sex abuse over the past decade. Most of the cases report the abuser to be a close family member or a family friend rather than a complete stranger.

Future Consequences-
  1. A sexually abused child is likely to develop severe mental health conditions and have major difficulties coping with as an adult. Therefore, one of the most common disorders affecting survivors of child sexual abuse is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Significantly, this involves the individual reliving the trauma all his/her life – thus leading to panic, stress and difficulties in living a healthy life in the longer run.
  2. Consequently, for the individuals abused as a child it is normal to suffer from a very low self -esteem. They continue to blame themselves for the events that occurred and hence have a rather demeaning view of themselves. Thus, this leads to adjustment issues in the future.
  3. They also have a diagnosis of clinical depression owing to the previous trauma. Accordingly, this hampers the everyday functioning of the individual. The individual continues to relive the past traumatic events in the mind that further fuels their depression and contribute to the vicious cycle, eventually.
Other consequences:
  1. Most often, survivors of child sexual abuse have a rather impulsive nature owing to the hampered functioning of impulse-control. Subsequently, they have lesser control over their emotions, especially anger and rather quick to act on it.
  2. Because of all the complications, there is a good chance that they become socially competent. Thus, they fail to build firm peer relationships. Therefore they grow up to be adults with severe trust issues. Hence, often sidelined because of their cynicism which leads to further depressive symptoms.
  3. By definition, Genophobia or Coitophobia is the abnormal fear of sex.  It is another complication that sexually abused kids go on experience as adults.  They usually avoid sexual intercourse altogether. Otherwise, they sometimes engage in sexual activities that come accross as rather violent in nature. Some survivors also develop certain sexual fetishes that can be rather dangerous; the most common is ‘paedophilia’ or the sexual arousal involving prepubescent children.
Conclusion

In conclusion, the seriousness of the condition is often undermined. In treatment, various therapeutic techniques used according to the need and age of the patient. For example, psychiatrists and therapists work to promote positive thinking among the sufferers. Thus, it becomes easy for them to accept their past and move on in life with a better outlook. With proper guidance and help, and sometimes medications, the individuals overcome their mental health issues and live a wholesome life.

Understanding Tumultuous Adolescence

Adolescence

Understanding Tumultuous Adolescence

Understanding Tumultuous Adolescence and Young Adults is NOT easy. Therefore, during teenage years, there will be a noticeable change in the behaviour of young people. Many mental illnesses have their onset in adolescence, including those that run a chronic course resulting in significant disability.

So what is so distinct about this age group? Understanding Tumultuous Adolescence and Young Adults is NOT easy. Therefore, during teenage years, there will be a noticeable change in the behaviour of young people. Adolescence is the period in life marking the transition from being a child to being an adult, and it overlaps with teenage. In other words, it is a phase where one gradually moves from being a dependant to becoming an independent person. This is the time when one’s personality starts to evolve. There is physical, social and intellectual development. This period is one of the busiest times of life; there is so much happening.

Imaging studies and brain development

Using structural and functional MRI scans in their research on adolescents, a team of scientists in London found that strangely the brain reduces in size by a tiny proportion, losing some nerve cells during the phase. It is reported that some connections between nerve cells are eliminated by discarding some neurons, while strengthening those connections is deemed important. The brain development that is correlated with hormone-related to puberty, usually occurs at the beginning of teenage for boys and just before teenage for girls. The scientists rightly argue that there is a biological reason for what happens during the adolescent period of life.

At this age they develop curiosity to explore and experiment. They have reduced communication with parents and start spending more time with friends in school and college. They come under peer influence easily. Scientists found that there is high risk-taking behaviour, especially if they perceive motivation by peers watching them closely. However, they seem to perform well when they are not being watched by peers. There is also an urge to perform an act to stand out or do something exciting. Because the front part of the brain is evolving, that creates inhibitions to certain kinds of behaviour. There will be mood swings, and decision-making is likely to be inconsistent.

Fear of peer rejection

It is common for young people to start spending excessive amounts of time with friends, more than with family members. Very few people prefer to remain aloof or alone during this period. Peers can influence ways of thinking, although thoughts are generated in their own mind. In fact, it is the individual who has to take responsibility for their own thoughts. If they feel they are having frequent and excessive intrusive thoughts, termed automatic thoughts, then they should seek advice without delay.

Being hypersensitive towards the reaction of peers is very common, but at the same time they can be hypersensitive in terms of emotional reactions towards family members. It is believed that the commonly occurring mood swings around this time can lead to conflicts about decision-making, hinder communication with family members as they easily misread the expression and body language of the family members.

Other reasons for low self esteem

Another reason for this is that their social development is still taking place and they are beginning to learn social interactions. Lots of activities occur as group activities and no one likes to be left out of a group. The person feels indirectly forced to accept an offer of alcohol or drug by peers, just to be part of a group, feeling that otherwise they will be isolated. There is the risk of using the substance weighed up against the risk of being isolated.

Individuals at teenage may become extremely anxious over the prospect of being rejected, and this could lead to using substances. Thus they become vulnerable to peer influence. On the positive side, peer influence motivates the person to attend college regularly and take part in physical activities such as sports or cultural activities. It can be difficult to pick and choose. Some peer group behaviours and activities can be highly unpredictable. Understanding Tumultuous Adolescence and Young Adults is NOT easy. Hence, during teenage years, there will be a noticeable change in the behaviour of young people.

Social development

There is a change in the social interaction patterns occurring due to changing roles. From being daughter or sibling, roles change to being a friend, college student, then employee. The individual is moving from dependency to independence during this time. The person is expected to take up new responsibilities. There will be direct or perceived family expectations that the person, after completing his or her education, could take up paid employment in the next few years. This could even create a conflict if goals that are set are not in line with expectations.

Impulse control and addiction

The urge to do an act develops through the stimulation of the limbic system, which is the area that deals with emotions, with the intention of seeking instant rewards. Therefore the acts that give instant fun to the individual through this process get reinforced. The person gets into the vicious circle of seeking immediate reward and performs acts. This can be one of the main reasons for behaviours such as smoking, and drug or alcohol use. Involvement in social media groups for prolonged lengths of time that affects daily functioning, academic performance and the ability to work towards their own goals needs early intervention.

Areas of the Brain involved

At this stage, the front region of the brain that is to do with inhibition of impulses, called the pre-frontal cortex, that is generally well-developed in humans, is slowly evolving, towards making a person’s mind mature. Teens also go with the trend of phone use, gadgets, social media use and clicking selfies. Several deaths have occurred during clicking of selfies due to risk-taking behaviour. Alcohol or drug use could persist through adulthood, and often such behaviour has its beginnings at this age.

Lots of Change

There are changes in so many dimensions, that the person may struggle to adapt if not given support. There is change in physical body structure in girls and boys. Girls start to have regular monthly periods. There are hormonal changes that can lead to changes in emotions and this in turn can affect thoughts. Sexual orientation develops and a few can have excessive sexual urges. Adaptations are required to cope with the new roles of the person. Career choices may need to be made. Generally they may feel under the influence of their parents and agree with them, but may later feel it was not their own choice. Some people may struggle in their careers and manage somehow, but it can trigger anxiety and depression in some.

Body image perception

In a survey, a majority of teens reported that they needed to maintain a certain body shape and size, being influenced by magazines. Media influences the image perception of self. An individual may develop a fear of gaining weight and appear obese, may become preoccupied by intrusive impulses, urges or thoughts, which take precedence over any other activity for them for weeks and months. These conditions are Anorexia nervosa and Bulimia nervosa, one concerning eating disorders that is commonly seen in a small percentage of girls. Again these may be due to the fear of being rejected by peers, or may even have been a result of bullying for being obese in the past.

Is It something else like an eating disorder?

Firstly, missing meals and significant reduction in quantity of food intake in order to lose weight are common. Sometimes, immediately after a round of binge-eating, to avoid the guilt, they induce vomiting to avoid gaining weight. However, these behaviours need early attention, so the deterioration to the extent of harm to physical health can be prevented. Even though, there may be significantly and morbidly low in weight or in body mass index, they still can get intrusive thoughts of feeling obese, or there is a part of their body seen in the mirror as fat. Consequently, this condition needs attention, and assessment by psychiatrists and suitable treatment must begin at the earliest.

Suicides and mental illness

Mental Illness and suicides are prevalent, and rising in this age group. As per Census in 2011, 30% of the population of India was between 10 and 24 years of age. The mental health care needs of the segment is increasing. Public health education and engaging teens are ways of early identification and prevention of breakdown, anxiety and depressive illness. Even if there is illness, with appropriate engagement and consultations with psychiatrists this can be treated.

Self-esteem and identity

At this age, individuals are searching their own identity — who they are and how they fit into the society. For some, they will not know what’s really going on with so many changes happening. They should try avoiding comparisons with their peers. They can start to set small achievable goals that they can achieve. With every small achievement, their self-esteem increases. Self-appreciation is something that needs to be emphasised in colleges. Because of low esteem they try seek attention, and they cannot cope with rejection by peers. They may slowly indulge in risk-taking behaviour, try drugs or alcohol or smoking. Patients need to be aware of the influence that their peers can have on them. Clients need to be able to weigh the pros and cons and learn to be assertive, and say “no” at times.

Coping mechanisms

Everyone tries to cope with stressful situations when face them and develop certain coping mechanisms. Mal-adaptive coping mechanisms include use of substances, self-harm, shouting, screaming, abusing or use of foul language. It is the time they need to learn adaptive coping mechanisms, which include sports, hobbies, ignoring, self-distraction, meditation, exercise, yoga and reading, and focus on higher achievement or charity work.

Cognitive behaviour therapy

Principles of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) involves examining one’s own thoughts, challenging own thoughts and slowly changing them to adaptive thoughts, by understanding their influence on emotions and their own behaviour. However, a negative thought brings about anger or sadness, which leads to a person becoming less sociable, whereas a positive thought would cheer up, leading to more socializing. Thus, understanding their own thought patterns and working on them by keeping a diary of their own thoughts, might help. Remember that Understanding Tumultuous Adolescence and Young Adults is NOT easy.

Mindfulness

Lots of countries are reportedly trying to help adolescents learn to practise mindfulness, which is learning to experience only the present moment. Indeed, this may generally work well if it is combined with a suitable meditation technique. Practising meditation regularly will give the individual good control over thoughts. 

Tackling peer pressure

Remain aware of the extent of the influence. Set your own goals and focus on your disciplined routine, including with regard to sleep hygiene. Learn to be assertive. Examine your own self-esteem level and work on them. Take time to make decisions as you may have mood swings that have interfered with your decision-making. Discuss with mentors or even with your sibling or mother. You should believe in your abilities. Moreover, fear of rejection or even rejection would not be the end of the world in reality. It is just an anxiety of becoming lonely as people do fear loneliness.

Understanding Tumultuous Adolescence and Young Adults is not the most easiest of things. However, lots of reasons for lots of things happening around adolescence exist. Society should focus on them. They are able to start learning as it is considered the best time to learn what can sustain for life. Educating teens regularly about their behaviours can be made a part of their curriculum. In conclusion, positive changes brought about can bring them on the right track that can make their future bright, thus creating great advantage to society.

Exam Anxiety and Phobia

Exam Anxiety Phobia

The exam season has arrived. And so has Exam Anxiety and Phobia.

Students can be seen immersed in their books and notes.

Excitement is in the air and so is anxiety.

While the former is a good thing to see, the latter raises concerns in the minds of parents and teachers. However, the fact is that anxiety before exams is a normal thing.

The pressure to perform will make students experience nervousness. Indeed, this is alright, but only if it is up to a limit. If it reaches an unhealthy level, it needs to be managed.

If a student experiences the following symptoms before exams, then the anxiety is unhealthy. and it is time for a session with a psychiatrist.
  1. Excessive sweating
  2. Fast heartbeat
  3. Nausea
  4. Headache
  5. Diarrhea
  6. Difficulty in breathing
  7. Lightheadedness
  8. Dizziness
  9. Dry mouth
  10. Gastrointestinal discomfort

These symptoms are an indication of the student being in the grip of panic and fear.

Nevertheless, it can be managed and controlled with the following tips.
  1. Make a study plan for preparation: In some cases, students get anxious because they are not ready with the preparation. However, just days before the exam, they feel at a loss. They become anxious as to how they will answer the questions in the exam. To avoid this, students should make a plan for preparation. Indeed, devoting adequate time to each topic so that the entire syllabus is covered and their preparation is complete.
  2. Meditate and try breathing techniques: Meditation is a great relaxation technique that soothes the mind and body. Also, taking deep breaths (inhaling and exhaling). Example for 15 to 20 minutes can go a long way in controlling the symptoms of anxiety. In addition, meditation gives you confidence, removes negative thoughts and also improves your concentration and memory.
  3. Exercise regularly: Getting involved in physical activity before an exam seems like a waste of time to many. However, it is necessary to avoid tension and stay healthy. So, if sports cannot be indulged into, one should go for exercises such as stretching and aerobics. Indeed, they relax the tensed muscles and keep fatigue at bay.
  4. Eat green vegetables and light food: Eating healthy is also important during exam preparation. If one skips meals or takes recourse to fast foods, it makes anxiety worse. In fact, junk food makes one drowsy. On the other hand, fruits and vegetables are light and easy to digest. They also provide complete nutrition and ensure the sustained release of energy during the study sessions.
  5. Sleep well: Many students compromise on sleep. They think that it would help in studies. However, lack of sleep leads to poor focus and concentration which further affects the studies. It also makes one irritable and drowsy. So, one should make sure that one is getting 6 hours of sleep every day.

Exam anxiety and phobia, is not an uncommon phenomenon. In fact, a small amount of anxiety is a good thing. Indeed, it acts as it motivates one to perform better. It leads to nervous energy which keeps one alert. However, the moment it gets out of hand, it is a cause for concern. So, one must seek help if one is experiencing the anxiety symptoms and follow the above-mentioned tips. It will surely help a student. Call your counselor or child psychiatrist to learn more.

How to Help Your Child Learn to Read

Help Learn Read Reading Disorders

As a parent, you feel a special deep panic when you realize that your child—your beautiful, clever, funny child, who regularly surprises you with precocious bons mots, who built an ingenious bow out of tubing and rubber bands that can shoot a chopstick across the living room with remarkable accuracy—is having trouble learning to read.

Meanwhile, all the other kids appear to be breezing along, polishing off Harry Potter books while your child stumbles over the difference between “how” and “now.” You don’t want to be one of those hysterical parents who gets all crazy about every little developmental bump in the road, but, hey, your kid can’t really read yet, and the others can. In your darker moments you feel the desolate urge to ratchet down your ambitions for your child from valedictorian to graduating at all. So, How to Help Your Child with reading disorders Learn to Read…

Such fears may be exaggerated, but they’re not irrational. Reading ability does predict school achievement and success (which is, of course, related to income, health, and other factors), and reading gains ever greater importance beyond school, as more jobs are now based on information and technology. Failure to read places significant limits on how one fares in other parts of life. And a lot of people never do learn to read well: Approximately 40 percent of fourth grade children in the United States lack basic reading skills; 20 percent of all graduating high school seniors are classified as functionally illiterate (meaning that their reading and writing skills are insufficient for ordinary practical needs) ; and about 42 million adults in the United States cannot read. So, you’re not nuts to take a reading problem seriously.

Perspective

Now for some perspective. First, let’s take a moment to recognize that compared with the development of oral language, the acquisition of reading is unnatural. Speech and the ability to understand speech can be considered the result of a natural process in the sense that the requisite skills emerge without formal training. Several species of animal employ sounds such as clicking, whistles, song, or foot tapping in a fashion that constitutes focused and targeted communication (and dolphins actually seem to have names for one another). Before children can speak fluently, they move from sounds to words, words to phrases, and so on, acquiring their growing expertise from exposure to the speech around them. They then make efforts to speak, with little formal guidance. By contrast, children must be taught to read.

The good news for kids who have trouble reading is that while a deficiency in reading may look like an across-the-board failure, it is often a local problem in just one or two of the components that add up to the ability to read. Reading, like golfing or playing the guitar, is not one big global skill but a constellation of many smaller ones. When we read fluently, the little skills weave together so seamlessly that they look like a single expertise.

There are components to – How to Help Your Child Learn to Read – It is important to look at the components because a holdup in the development of any single one may be at fault in a child’s poor performance in reading. If we can identify the component that’s not doing its share, we can do a great deal to improve reading.

The components that make up reading are interrelated and overlapping, but distinguishable:

  1. Vocabulary: knowing the meanings of words. A child’s comprehension of what is read depends on this. Better vocabulary better prepares a child for reading.
  2. Comprehension: understanding and being able to interpret what is read, connecting the printed words and sentences with human experience.
  3. Phonological awareness: identifying and manipulating units of oral language, such as words, syllables, onsets, and rimes. Children who have phonological awareness can recognize that sentences are made up of words, words can be broken down into sounds and syllables, sounds can be deleted from words to make new words, and different words can begin or end with the same sound or have the same middle sound(s).
  4. Decoding: breaking down words into their constituent sounds and building words from those sounds. This begins with blending sounds (“puh” plus “al” equals “pal”) and extends into sounding out words the child has never seen before by recognizing the sounds of letters and syllables that form them.
  5. Fluency: reading smoothly with accuracy, speed, and expression that conveys the sense of what’s being read.

As a parent with no particular professional expertise in teaching literacy, there’s a lot you can do on the level of normal play and routine home life to promote reading—and without turning it into a chore or a high-pressure struggle.

To start with:

Parents can begin working on the components of reading when their child is still an infant and extend the process throughout childhood. To begin with, the more the child knows about oral language, the better. When she begins to read, she will draw upon a reserve of expertise that she first built up as a speaker and listener: vocabulary, comprehension, phonological awareness, connecting words to things.

With infants, talk to the child and encourage him to make a range of talk like sounds. Begin reading to the child, and keep books around, including some within the child’s reach. Do what you can to make reading fun, enjoyable, peaceful, and engaging, setting the stage for what comes next at the toddler level. You are building command of sounds, love of reading, and an appreciation of the value and importance of books.

With toddlers and pre-schoolers, it helps to connect reading to some routine such as bed time, nap time, or a pre or after meal lull. Select topics she likes; let the child select books for you to read. Get in the habit of activities or games that rhyme and otherwise play with sounds: songs, jingles, made-up phrases (e.g., “Billy is silly” to catch the rhyming sounds, “Sally sounds silly” to catch the sound of the initial S). Nursery rhymes are especially rich in words, rhyming, and other fundamentals. Talk about a greater range of subjects, even very mundane ones—like pointing to the parts of a car or animal in an illustration and labelling them.

As you read, stop and ask a gentle question: “What do you think Babar is thinking here?” or “What do you think will happen next?” These are great for comprehension. If the question is too difficult, offer a little more guidance by attaching a statement: “I’ll bet Babar is a little lonely. What do you think would make him feel better?” Also, you can encourage your child to experiment with writing, which helps reading because she uses sounds to try to write the word. You might see the child write “sn” for “sun,” a great start that shows awareness of sounds and the breakdown of words into sounds.

How to Help Your Child Learn to Read:

As your child continues in elementary school and begins to work hard during the school day on reading, it’s a good idea to continue reading with and to him, mixing in casual writing practice (some kids will go for the idea of alternating entries in a journal with a parent) and talking over dinner and in other family settings about what the child has read.

If there’s a series of books that speaks to one of your child’s enthusiasms, helping him get into that series will allow him to become familiar with continuing characters and engage with a larger story, which makes even new books seem familiar.

Keep a dictionary around and easily accessible, and use it once in a while. Thus, inviting your child to do this with you. The dictionary not only reinforces vocabulary and comprehension, it helps your child decode words. Hence, by showing that they are composed of syllables that can be sounded out.

Make up word games to play while driving or in a store. “Think of words that sound like snow” is good for a first or second grader. However, you can work up to more complicated games for older children. If you make the play competitive (if your family is into that), please resist the temptation. The temptation to rattle off 50 words in a row and then do your special taunting wiggly victory dance.

Next Steps:

And, of course, continue to show by your actions. Not just your pronouncements – that reading is engaging, relevant, and a path to fresh experiences. Keep books around where your child can pick them up in the natural course of things. And don’t forget to pick up a book yourself. Model the desired intimacy with books; don’t just preach it.

You can’t add becoming a fulltime reading tutor to the already fulltime demands of parenting. Nonetheless, children will vary in interest, ability, and attention. So, you’ll inevitably have to select just a few of the many possible activities to promote reading skills. In general, go for regularity—a little almost every day. And, as part of a routine that links reading to the more relaxed moments in the day. Rather than a Shakespeare marathon one Saturday a month. That is How to Help Your Child Learn to Read.

And when setting priorities, bear in mind that two activities are clearly the most critical:
  1. Firstly, read aloud to the child. So, it shows that reading is important, part of everyday life, and fun. Also, it allows you to model the basic component skills. However, it’s fine to read the same books over and over, as many children like to do. Research indicates that repeated readings help a child to integrate words better; comprehend meaning; and connect sounds, words, and meaning. Even on the 50th time through the same story, interact during the reading to bring the child into the activity. “What is Pooh doing? What do you think is in the jar?”
  2. Secondly, help the child understand that letters are related to sounds and that words can break down into sounds. Finally, the child’s reading will advance by being able to sound out words, not by memorizing individual words. There are alphabet books to help you work with your child to connect letters to sounds. In the middle of reading, stop and sound out a word. “Let’s sound this out together: Err … un. Run! He’s getting ready to run.”
Conclusion

Reading may be important and complex and very scary when your child has trouble with it. However, parents should take heart. And remember that mundane low-pressure practice during games and other activities with you can make an enormous difference. Even a slightly increased sensitivity to breaking down sounds or rhyming may help. Also, a slightly heightened familiarity with books and motivation to engage with them, can provide a significant boost at school. Reading preparation is at the top of the list of factors that make a difference in school achievement. Such preparation need not – and should not – feature threats, severity, and drudgery. Instead, help your child to read by doing what you do anyway. This includes, playing with him, talking with her – in a slightly more purposeful manner. How to Help Your Child Learn to Read may be difficult. Indeed, you may need a school counselor or a child psychiatrist.

Reading Disorders

How Do I know If My child Has Reading Disorders

Reading disorders occur when a person has trouble with any part of the reading process. Reading and language-based learning disabilities are commonly called dyslexia. These disorders are present from a young age. Thus, usually result from specific differences in the way the brain processes language.

There are many different symptoms and types of reading disorders, and not everyone with a reading disorder has every symptom. People with reading disorders may have problems recognizing words that they already know and may also be poor spellers. Other symptoms may include the following:

  • Trouble with handwriting
  • Difficulty reading quickly
  • Problems reading with correct expression
  • Problems understanding the written word

Reading disorders are not a type of intellectual and development disorder. Also, they are not a sign of lower intelligence or unwillingness to learn. People with reading disorders may have other learning disabilities, too, including problems with writing or numbers. Visit learning disabilities for more information about these problems.

Types of Reading Disorders

Dyslexia is a brain-based type of learning disability that specifically impairs a person’s ability to read. Individuals with dyslexia typically read at levels significantly lower than expected despite having normal intelligence. Although the disorder varies from person to person, there are some common characteristics among people with dyslexia. They are difficulty with phonological processing (the manipulation of sounds), spelling, and/or rapid visual-verbal responding. Dyslexia can be inherited in some families. Moreover, recent studies have identified a number of genes that may predispose an individual to developing dyslexia. Examples of specific types of reading disorders include:

  • Word decoding. People who have difficulty sounding out written words; matching the letters to sounds to be able to read a word.
  • Lack of fluency. People who lack fluency have difficulty reading quickly, accurately, and with proper expression (if reading aloud).
  • Poor reading comprehension. People with poor reading comprehension have trouble understanding what they read.

A related problem is alexia (pronounced uh-LEK-see-uh), or an acquired inability to read. Unlike most reading disabilities, which are present from when a child starts to learn to read, people with alexia were once able to read. However, they lost the ability after a stroke or an injury to the area of the brain involved with reading.

How will I know if my child has a reading problem?

The news usually comes in one or more of three ways.

  1. School feedback. If your child’s teacher alerts you to a problem, resist falling into the blame games. If the teacher asks, “Do you ever read to him at home?” don’t come back with, “Aren’t you teaching him to read at school? Whatever you’re doing isn’t working.”
  2. Your child’s statements. The child may well make general or specific comments. Like “I don’t want to read.” or “I can’t do this”. “I don’t get what’s happening in this story.” More likely, your child will just express frustration. Strong resistance against practicing reading, including blanket statements like “Reading is dumb” is an obvious sign.
  3. Behavior’s you can observe. Reluctance to be read to, getting stuck on most words in a sentence. And slow or no reaction when you ask a simple question. For example, “What is the sound of that letter?” Another warning sign would be if the child’s reading is very slow. Accuracy in early reading is much more important than speed. However, if you can wash and dry the dishes before the sentence is completed, fluency is a problem. Or you may notice that the child gets the beginning of the word but guesses at the rest of it. Like, reading “smoke” as “smile,” for instance—which suggests she is trying to memorize whole words. Instead of breaking them down to sound them out.
Reading Disorders

Can’t I just wait until the child gets to school, where they have teachers trained to teach reading?

You could, but it would be better if you did not. Practicing the components of reading in the home doesn’t mean you force reading before your child is ready to. However, you can help develop important skills without rushing the process. Also, the child who does practice those skills will do better when he does get to school and is ready to read in earnest. Studies show that having more of the component skills in place at age 5 predicts better school achievement at ages 7 and 15.

What do I do if I think my child has a reading problem?

Indeed, a reading evaluation can be very important. A trained specialist can identify weakness in any of the component skills and will know how to work on it. Bear in mind that the child’s negative reaction to reading alone will not necessarily show you where the problem is. Your best bet is to ask your child’s teacher, school psychologist, or principal to bring in a reading specialist. Or if you prefer to seek out help on your own, you can do your own search. Search for a reading specialist online or in the phone book.

Moreover, a little respectful tact in dealing with your child’s teacher may well be necessary. However, you’re not questioning the teacher’s competence or going over her head by consulting a specialist. Thus, reading is a well-developed area of educational specialization, with masters and doctoral level professionals. Hence, they can offer very focused assistance that goes beyond what can happen in the classroom. So, plan to work with the teacher as will any reading specialist your child ends up seeing.

However, there are more serious problems—auditory disorders, dyslexia, pervasive developmental disorder—that can lead to reading impairment. Thus, one reason to go to a specialist is that there are different strategies. Hence, these are associated with addressing each of the many causes of a reading problem.

What if my child can read, but just won’t? What if my child just has an attitude problem?

You can be certain of motivational problems only if all of the component skills are well established. So, as a parent, you probably cannot determine this on your own. However, if you’ve taken your child for a reading evaluation and problem is just motivational then you might try these. So, establish more reading routines and engage in more talking about reading at the dinner table and have the child select a book to read together at the bookstore; switch to engaging magazines or something else other than a book that has words to read; read stories connected to movies, and see the movies with the child.


My child is pulled out of class for an intensive reading program. If I enroll her in an outside program for a few weeks, will that bring her up to speed?

Nevertheless, a few weeks in an intensive reading program, all by itself, probably will not be enough. A program that is sustained and supported in the home is more likely to have staying power. Also, research suggests that much can be done to help the child and build the skills needed. In addition, that steady progress takes precedence over a quick fix. Therefore, notably the mundane game like activities I’ve discussed above will go far to improve reading and complement school activities. Thus, if you can start early, all the better. Then, you have the option, select day care, preschool, and kindergarten that emphasize sounding out, rhyming, and other pre-reading skills.

But do not leave the teaching of reading to the school. Without becoming a whip cracking achievement monster, you can accomplish a great deal. This is as part of a regular routine of play and home life.