Reading is essential for a child’s success. All too often, the barriers faced by children with difficulty reading outweigh their desire to read and, without proper guidance, they never overcome them.
Learning to read is a sequential process; each new skill builds on the mastery of previously learned skills. Early on, for example, children learn to break down words into their most basic sounds in a process called decoding. Later, they begin to comprehend the meaning of words, sentences and, ultimately, entire passages of text.
Decoding creates the foundation on which all other reading skills are built. For many, decoding comes naturally, quickly becoming an automatic process. For people who struggle to decode words, however, the process requires such extreme concentration that they often miss much of the meaning in what they read. Indeed, according to many experts, decoding problems are at the root of most reading disabilities.
The following medical and educational facts emphasize the importance of recognizing and addressing a reading problem early on, when a child still has the opportunity to maximize the development of fundamental skills like decoding, and further underscore the importance of early intervention: