What is a

Reading Disorder?

What is


Assessment Components

Considerations for Children with CAS

Literacy development encompasses a number of skills, from recognizing letters to calling on experiences and language skills to be able to read for both learning and enjoyment. Identifying children at risk for reading difficulties is important because this ability will influence a child’s ability to succeed academically.

Children with speech and language disorders, including CAS, are at increased risk of experiencing difficulty learning to read. Research indicates that 50-75% of children with CAS struggle with reading.

What is a Reading Disorder?

A number of different labels have been used for children who struggle to learn to read, including reading disability, reading disorder, and dyslexia. Reading disability or disorder are general terms used for a specific learning disability in areas of phonological processing, reading comprehension, and/or reading fluency.

Not all reading disorders are dyslexia – a child can struggle to read or have a reading disorder and not have dyslexia.

What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a specific learning disability characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties cannot be explained by general developmental skills or lack of instruction. In other words, a child’s reading skills are poorer than expected and, despite having been properly taught how to read, the child still has a difficult time reading in comparison to their abilities in other areas/subjects.


Important components of assessment for a reading disorder include:

Speech and Language Skills

Children who score within the “average” or “low average” range on standardized tests of language may be lacking in vocabulary or language skill that is not captured on the test, but may be more evident in day to day contexts. This testing is often conducted by a speech-language pathologist working with a psychologist, learning disabilities teacher, diagnostician or reading/dyslexia specialist.

Reading Skills

Reading skills assessments are usually conducted by a psychologist, learning disabilities teacher, reading/dyslexia specialist or speech-language pathologist, depending on the setting in which your child is assessed. Specific skills and how they are assessed will depend on the child’s age. Reading skills that might be assessed include phonological awareness, sound-letter correspondences, decoding, sight word recognition, fluency and reading comprehension.

Considerations for Children with CAS

It can be very challenging to separate reading difficulties from speech problems caused by CAS, especially if reading aloud is used as the primary method of evaluating reading skills.  Modified reading assessment methods are often necessary for children with CAS, especially children with moderate or severe CAS.  It should not be assumed that a child’s difficulties with oral reading are just speech-related because this can lead to missing reading problems that could be remediated with appropriate intervention. If your child is able to repeat sentences easily but cannot read them out loud, then reading difficulties should be suspected.  Conversely, if your child can read and follow instructions or answer yes/no questions about things they read but struggle to read the same material out loud, that suggests that speech difficulties are the barrier. It is important to collaborate with your child’s teacher and SLP about assessment methods that can accurately track your child’s progress with reading skills. The pages here and here provide more information and include videos (located at bottom of pages) to demonstrate how to test reading skills without requiring the child to produce sounds or speak.

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