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Learning to Achieve Trainer Snippet #1:

Reading Disabilities

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Module #5 Reading Disabilities

Participant Guide

        Pages:  72-84

        Slides:  1-25



A reading disability is a specific type of learning disability.  Frequently, individuals refer to a reading disability as dyslexia.  However, dyslexia is actually a combination of reading problems Ė in particular, trouble accurately and fluently decoding single words, as well as issues with spelling. 

Research on reading disabilities suggests three distinct profiles:

       #1 Word recognition and spelling

o   An individual struggles reading individual words and spelling.

       #2 Fluency and automaticity

o   An individual struggles with rapid, efficient, and correct word identification as well as use of appropriate phrasing and expression.

       #3 Language comprehension

o   An individual struggles to construct meaning from written or spoken language.  He/she may be able to read the individual words but after reading a passage, he/she may have difficulty remembering or understanding what has been read.

Difficulty in one area can affect another.  For example, if a reader has trouble with fluency, this may slow down the process so much that it can affect oneís comprehension.


Some adults with learning disabilities may score in the ABE Intermediate High category, but they will continue to struggle with decoding skills and lack of fluency.  The chance of their becoming proficient readers will not be great unless they receive direct instruction to address these problems.

Neurological Impress

by Dr. Barbara Walker

The impress method uses unison oral reading between the teacher and the student. The teacher and student sit side-by-side with the teacher reading out loud slightly louder and ahead of the student modeling fluent and expressive oral reading.


Major Reading Tasks It Develops


1. Oral reading fluency

2. Sight word identification through contextual reading

3. Intonation and phrasing




1. The teacher selects text around 200 words that is near the studentís frustrational reading level.

2. The teacher and the student read the text in unison. The teacher reads slightly ahead and slightly louder than the student.

3. The teacher sits on the right side of the student and reads into the right ear to impress the language structure on the left side of the brain.

*4. The teacher moves her finger along the line of print so that the studentís eyes can follow her reading.

5. The studentís eyes follow the line of print as he reads.

6. As the student gains success through understanding the context, the teacher gradually lets him take the lead.

7. At this time the teacher releases her lead.

Resources from Learning to Achieve:

Curtis, M.E., & Kruidenier, J.R. (2005, Fall).  A summary of scientific-based research principles:  Teaching adults to read.  Washington, DC:  National Institute for Literacy.

Kruidenier, J. (2002).  Research-based principles for adult basic education instruction.  Washington, DC:  National Institute for Literacy.

McShane, S.  (2005).  Applying research in reading instruction for adults:  First steps for teachers.  Washington, DC:  National Institute for Literacy.

Resources from MTLINCS: 

Reading is the Bridge Resources


       Phonemics at

o   Phonograph Approach

o   Three Drills


       Fluency at

o   Chunking

o   Echo Reading

* The strategy involves one reading passage that is shared because the teacher moves her finger along the line of print so that the studentís eyes can follow her reading.  This is also necessary because the teacher needs to sitting close enough on the student's right side so that the neurological impress is made.   Of course, the implication here is that both the teacher and the student must be comfortable with one another due to body space.

Submitted by Norene Peterson, L2A Trainer