Why Can't He Read and Why is He a Behavior Problem?

The Problem: Chris was experiencing problems learning to read. He could not read, write or spell and was also exhibiting behavior problems in school. These included attention seeking, disruptive behaviors, unkindness towards others and the refusal to comply with teacher requests. He had also adopted a belligerent; "I don't care" attitude when efforts were made to help him with his schoolwork. No one knew what the problem was and his mother was extremely upset and worried. The school had suggested that Chris might not be particularly bright or capable as a possible reason for his academic difficulties.

The Assessment: The assessment indicated that Chris was a bright little boy who suffered from a memory-based learning disability. This made it difficult for him to remember visual/auditory associations, such as letters and their names and sounds, as well as words and their visual configuration. The assessment also led to the development of sound, effective solutions to help Chris learn to read and succeed at school. These included strategies to build his self-esteem, increase his feelings of adequacy and opportunities to experience academic success to counteract his sense of failure. I also provided his mother and the school with an intervention plan to address his specific memory weaknesses. This plan allowed him to move forward, learn how to read and consolidate his reading, spelling and written language skills.

Solutions and Outcomes: As Chris began to experience academic success, which at the initial stage simply involved basic letter recognition, his behavior problems lessened and are no longer a concern. In addition, his school provided him with a highly structured academic program tailored to his specific learning needs. As a result, Chris has learned to read. Symptoms of anxiety, his excessive movement or agitation and his problems with attention are no longer evident. Similarly, he gets along better with his peers and is no longer observed criticizing them or putting them down. He is a happy, delightful child. Recently he greeted a teacher from an earlier a grade with the exuberant statement - "Guess what, I can read!" He was thrilled, as is his formerly stressed and worried mother. Stress for both mother and child is considerably reduced. Another example of how understanding the problem led to its solution.