Watching your child struggle with reading and writing can be stressful. After all, you want to give your child the tools they need to succeed in life. Your child’s well-being may also be impacted by their learning troubles, especially if they are aware that they are falling behind their peers.

Educational specialists and psychologists have developed early intervention programmes that help children overcome such learning challenges. But for intervention to be effective, you first need to understand why your child struggles to read or write. This is because there are multiple types of learning difficulties that can influence a child's ability to read, write and otherwise cope in school.

Let’s explore some of these difficulties and unpack why seeking a professional diagnosis is key to help your child thrive in school and later in life. 

What Causes Reading and Writing Difficulties in Children?

Many skills are required to master reading and writing. Each learning difficulty affects how we develop these skills differently. The most commonly identified learning difficulties impacting students include:

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) — did you know that up to 7% of children experience ADHD? — that’s according to research published in the psychiatry journal, The Lancet. Children with ADHD may act impulsively, be overly active and often have trouble maintaining attention. While ADHD doesn’t have a direct impact on learning ability, the condition negatively affects behaviour control, concentration and memory — this determines the child’s ability to succeed in school. 

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) — while there are many signs of autism, children with autism generally experience challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech and nonverbal communication. These challenges can make it difficult to acquire the skills needed to read and write. 

  • Dyslexia — children with dyslexia struggle to decode words, leading to persistent reading, writing and spelling challenges. Notably, people can be dyslexic in some languages and not in others. For a more in-depth exploration of dyslexia, read our Singaporean parent’s guide to dyslexia learning interventions.

  • Social Communication Disorder — previously called pragmatic language impairment or semantic pragmatic disorder, children with this condition have trouble communicating in social settings. This results in children not following communication rules like taking turns to speak, greeting others and changing communication to match the context or needs of the listener. These children may also struggle to understand sarcasm, metaphors or subtext. 

  • Speech and Language Delay — language delay signifies that a child is developing at a slower rate than their same-aged peers. Reasons for these delays can range from having an unrecognised hearing impairment to oral-motor problems, where children struggle to coordinate the muscles needed for speech. 

  • Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) — children with difficulty understanding and using language well into their schooling years may have a developmental language disorder. Children with this condition often experience a combination of learning challenges, meaning that complex intervention is required. 

What Should I Do If My Child Struggles with Reading and Writing?

Seeking a professional diagnostic assessment is crucial to helping children with learning difficulties master reading and writing. The right assessment will accurately identify your child’s challenges so they can receive the exact support they need to succeed in school. 

Think of it this way: all children have unique strengths and weaknesses. These characteristics are like seeds, which are buried underground and are hidden from view. The strong seeds often grow by themselves, while the weak seeds need extra water and care to grow. But it takes time and money to water a seed and, without a plan, you might waste resources.

An experienced psychologist can uncover exactly where the weak and strong seeds are buried. They will know where to water the ground and how much water to use so that your child grows quickly and without wasting time and money.     

Earlier is Always Better: The Importance of Seeking an Early Diagnostic Assessment

Many parents avoid securing an assessment for their child. They might want to avoid the stigma of having a child with learning challenges. Or they may think their child will outgrow their difficulties. But the truth is that many children learn differently, so they require extra support or different tools to flourish — these requirements cannot be outgrown.

In fact, the earlier a child receives support, the more can be done to help them. This is because, as children develop, they experience ‘windows of opportunity,’ where they more easily pick up the key skills needed for reading and writing. The longer you wait, the more difficult it becomes to learn these skills, and the wider the gap can become between your child and their peers. 

Finding an Expert Diagnostic Assessment in Singapore 

In Singapore, there are many private facilities and early intervention centres that identify learning difficulties for students of all ages. But to get the most accurate possible assessment, it’s important to take your child to a qualified development specialist.   

At Thomson Kids, we provide thorough and internationally recognised learning assessments. Alongside our assessments, we offer guidance on which learning intervention programmes are best suited to help your child overcome their reading and writing difficulties. 

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