August 2020: Overcoming A Reading Disorder

tags: Speech and Language Outpatient Clinic Speech and Language Department

Middle school, real homework, and all the changes that adolescence brings can be overwhelming for any 13 year old boy. However, also imagine that you are unable to read like your peers. You become upset at the thought of reading in front of others and you have never been able to read anything for pleasure.

Hear how Jaidyn, working with a Kennedy Krieger speech language specialist, is learning how to overcome his reading disorder through hard work, professional guidance and dedication.

Dr. Jacqueline Stone: Today I am joined by Kirby Matthews, a speech-language pathologist in the speech and language outpatient clinic at Kennedy Krieger Institute.

Kirby Matthews: Most of us cannot phantom being 13-years-old, a year away from high school, and being unable to read.

However, that is exactly where I found Jaidyn, a 13-year-old boy who was referred to our Speech and Language Outpatient Clinic for a language and literacy evaluation due to struggles with reading and homework. Jaidyn was unable to read like his peers. He was a middle schooler who became upset at the thought of reading in front of others and had never read anything for pleasure.

With the current pandemic, I evaluated Jaidyn by telehealth. We discovered that his language skills were in the high average range, but his word reading and spelling skills were well below average. The remarkable thing about Jaidyn, however, was that he had been able to successfully get by in school due to his strong cognitive, language and inferencing skills.

Following his initial evaluation with me, Jaidyn was diagnosed with a specific reading disorder and a written expression disorder. I began weekly teletherapy sessions with him, while his parent’s pursuit services through the school system. We had to start from the beginning, meaning going back to skills a student typically learns in early elementary school. Here I was teaching the same skills over Zoom, to a 13-year-old boy that his peers had learned in the first and second grades.

It is difficult to isolate a single inspiring story at Kennedy Krieger because there are many each day. But Jaidyn’s hard work and commitment to learn how to read as a middle schooler, really impresses me. The progress Jaidyn has made in just two short months of teletherapy is unbelievable and is due primarily to his relentless hard work and dedication. Although he appears frustrated at times, Jaidyn is committed to improving his reading and writing skills.

My hope for him is that one day he will not only lose the anxiety he has about reading in public, but that his young brain would gain the freedom to read for pleasure and let his imagination run wild.

Dr. Jacqueline Stone: Inspiring Moments is produced for WYPR by Kennedy Krieger Institute. I am Dr. Jacqueline Stone.