Adults with LD or ADHD

Differentiating Between Different Reading Disabilities?

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Joined: Aug 20, 2006
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Posted May 16, 2007 at 5:52:58 AM
Subject: Differentiating Between Different Reading Disabilities?

Hello there; could use some advice! How do people differentiate between different reading disabilities? How do you know when it is dyslexia? How do you know when it is actually CAPD? Or just a reading comprehension disability? Or a side-effect of attentional and working memory problems? I've been trying to figure this out for months, and I've no idea. Below is a really lengthy post about my reading history and problems. If anyone knows this subject well, I'd appreciate some insight.

I'm a student who has historically had some severe functional reading problems, in the sense that I never read a darn thing for any class all the way through grad school because it truly didn't benefit me. I've suffered from bad reader's fatigue for as long as I can remember, so I never bothered to read longer than about 10 minutes if I had to comprehend the text. However, when I was young I was a ravenous reader! Early on I was always in advanced reading classes, and by the third grade I was mostly just reading books on my own and writing short book reports on them. Oddly enough, however, I stopped getting As in reading pretty quickly, but they kept advancing me anyway.

I used to read all the time when I was young, but I remember that after a short period of time I would start losing the right sides of words, then the right side of the line, then the entire right side of the page. I simply wouldn't read them. I'd skip over them without even realizing it. I always skipped big blocks of text, often skipping right to dialogue. I've no ability to visualize what I read, so I generally learned little from thick descriptive paragraphs anyway. I also, not surprisingly, thought for many of my younger years that books changed themselves when you weren't reading them. the reason, of course, was that every time I would re-read a book it seemed different (i.e. I wasn't really comprehending it very well, and I was skipping huge sections). Most of my childhood I was reading the same books over and over.

By the 7th grade, things changed drastically. I was the only honors student not to pass out of reading through testing. Ironically, my standardized test scores were almost all 99th percentile...except for reading comprehension, spelling, and often math. But I was still at grade level for all of them. With Math I was even higher. I did horrendously in spelling during elementary school. I was fluking in third grade, and I was barely holding Bs and Cs afterwards. Penmanship was also always between D and C+/B-. I stopped reading for pleasure as much, and I stopped reading anything for class. Reading out loud was also always difficult for me, so I made excuses not to have to do it while in class. It was never horrible, but I always knew I was having problems, and I was very embarrassed. Keep in mind, through all of this I was always in the most advanced classes and had been given an IQ test as a young child and put into the California GATE program. My teachers did point out my odd problems with sequencing as a child; I had no ability to order things properly (and I still don't!). To this day I can only figure out where left and right are by reminding myself which hand I write with. I didn't figure out left and right until about 13.

So skip ahead many years, and I finally get tested for ADHD/LD issues after dropping out of one of the most selective universities in the country before finishing my BA and MA. Turns out there's some severe ADHD going on. I show some really bad impairments in memory, particularly auditory memory. WAIS scores put my verbal skills in the highly gifted area (around 140) with vocab as my highest SS. Verbal Fluencey scores hit the ceiling on the test. I was looking at 16-19 on the subtests, with my ability to do category naming one standard deviation (at least, since I hit the ceiling on that test) above my ability to do letter naming.

WJ-III showed odd results. Reading Comprehension, Calculation, and Letter-Word Identification were both 112, and Spelling was only 114. Word Attack was 118. Reading Fluency was actually the highest reading score at 123. My reading rate on the Nelson-Denny wasn't horrible, but it was low for someone my education level. Plus, it's silent reading, and I make liberal use of guess-and-go when I read; which isn't detected on that test.

We know I have contrast sensitivity issues. It turns out that when I read beyond my 10 minutes and force myself to read the entire page, the words start moving, and I get ill. Some pages are so bad that I can't begin to look at them; the words won't stop flashing and shimmering. I use colored overlays for this. I have problems hearing the difference between many sounds, particularly vowels ("a" and "e" kill me!). My spelling is actually pretty good on the surface, but I continue to be almost incapable of learning to spell words that I can't spell already. Toying with the pronounciation editor of my Text-To-Speech program made me realize that I truly have problems breaking words into their speech sounds, particularly those darn vowels. The program gives me a list of all of the speech sounds, and I end up doing guess and check for parts of most words. I get it right eventually, but it takes me a while to figure out to change the way it speaks a word so that it sounds like I want/need it to be. I have to say it over and over again to even begin to break it up.

I do have a tendency to put words out of order when speaking and reading, but it mostly shows up when I'm rushed or stressed. I actually have very noticable (to me) problems with word recall, but I have such an extensive vocabulary that I can usually come up with another word on the fly. This also helps me circumvent spelling problems much of the time. Most people don't realize how difficult these things can be for me.

My reading comprehension levels are ridiculously low. The sentences on the page just dissolve into individual words that have no meaning together. Even under the best of situations, I often feel as though I have what it takes to do the reading, but it is as if the parts of my brain just aren't working together well. I have great word recognition (I do mess up on the endings of words constantly. So I get the base, but I miss the tense or whether it is singular or plural, etc). And I know how to say the words; generally I also know how the word is supposed to sound (or approximately at least) even if I don't recognize the word as it is written. I also know what the words mean (though I have always had noticable trouble giving specific definitions for words- I am far better at demonstrating their meaning through usage). But somehow it seems as if when actively reading, the effort involved in getting all of these parts of my head to work together to figure it all out is just too much.

I'll see a word, and I'll recognize it, and if I read out loud I feel the delay in figuring out how to say the word. If I focus carefully on each individual word, my out loud reading gets slow and sounds rocky. If I fly through the words just going on visual recognition and a prayer, I tend to sound much smoother overall but with lots of omissions and wrong word forms and occasionals points where I come to a complete halt trying to figure out what the word is and how to say it.

At the same time, if I am reading to myself, and I hit an irregular word I can usually figure out what it is by figuring out what it vaguely looks like it should sound like (usually the first two or three letters and the word length), and I take the context, and I use that to figure out what word I would say and then fill that in for the word I'm reading. At other times, however, I feel as though I'm having problems accessing the meaning of the words on the page that I do recognize. I know the word fairly easily, but the meaning comes more slowly and is vague, making it difficult to piece it all together. And my ability to remember what I've just read is nonexistent, so I don't have long before the previous words in the sentence are gone.
Honestly, it seems that the comprehension part is ultimately what is most difficult for me. I know I'm using a lot of energy to figure out what the words are, but I can also do it pretty darn accurately (definitely above average). Even if I don't recognize the word, I'm VERY good at figuring it out in a split second by its length and the context. Oddly enough though, I have to run into the word several times before I finaly learn to recognize it, and often times I never really learn to recognize it at all. It's like I'm reading it for the first time every time. But there are so few words that I haven't been exposed to that this occurs (usually jargon or technical words).

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Joined Jan 11, 2004
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Posted:May 18, 2007 4:14:08 PM

Hello Jesse:

Not sure if I saw a posting by you on another forum. I believe it would take somebody pretty skilled in dyslexia/learning disabilities/reading to give you an accurate evaluation. You might look up the California International Dyslexia Association. They may have someone who can do a good evaluation. I've heard about people who have the problem where the words will start moving on them.

Here's one suggestion that I use. My vision got so I couldn't see the words clearly. So I switched to simply listening to what I wanted to read. It took me a while to transition to this type of reading. But now I comprehend pretty well just by listening. In a sense this makes an individual similar to a blind person who has to read by listening. I frequently scan books and read them. Probably at least one book every two weeks. I read my books now using a device called the Book Port. Book Port is put out by the American Printing House for the Blind ($400) . The Book Port has a built-in text-to-speech chip. You can download a Word document to the device and it will read it to you. The voice of the Book Port isn't quite as good as say the Neospeech voices. But I've gotten used to it.

If you don't mind my asking what is your master's degree in? And what career choices are you making?

Fortunately I work with computer databases. I don't have to do a great deal of reading. However, I use text-to-speech software to read my e-mail messages and documents produced here at work.

Jim Nuttall -- Michigan
Dictated with speech recognition software Dragon NaturallySpeaking 9.1.

Jim -- Michigan www.geocities.com/jnuttallphd

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Joined Feb 06, 2005
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Posted:May 19, 2007 1:35:45 AM

Jesse, what could be helpful for you, is to learn the techniques of Speed Reading?
As it appears that you are reading 'word by word', and sounding out all of the words. Either vocally or in your mind.
With Speed Reading, you learn to read in 'blocks of words', rather than 'word by word'.
Also you don't 'sound out' all of the words, only the keywords of the sentence.
This would increase your comprehension and speed of reading.

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Posted:May 20, 2007 10:26:05 PM

Hello Jesse:

On the parent portion of this forum there has been a discussion about visual therapy in reading disabilities. Have you ever tried vision therapy? You might like to check out what they are talking about on the forums there. It's under the topic dyslexia/visual processing

Jim -- Michigan

Jim -- Michigan www.geocities.com/jnuttallphd

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