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The Clock is Ticking:  The Importance of Early Identification and Intervention for Reading Struggles

How long should you wait before seeking help if your child is struggling with reading?  Today I will focus on why some parents wait to seek help, what to look out for, and the importance of early identification and intervention.


1.       Misconceptions and Stigma:  One prevalent reason parents delay seeking help is the stigma surrounding learning disorders.  According to a survey conducted by the National Center for Learning Disabilities, over 60% of parents expressed concerns about potential stigmatization, which often leads to delayed intervention.

2.      Waiting for Developmental Maturity:  Some parents believe that their child’s reading struggles will resolve with time and developmental maturity.  However, research from the American Academy of Pediatrics indicates that early intervention, especially before the age of seven, is crucial for preventing long-term academic challenges associated with reading difficulties.

3.      Lack of Awareness:  A significant number of parents delay seeking help due to a lack of awareness about the signs of reading delays and disorders.  The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reports that only 50% of parents feel confident in recognizing the signs of reading difficulties, contributing to delayed intervention efforts.  Below are some grade level expectations for reading in kindergarten and first grade. If your child has difficulty with some of these, it might be a sign of a reading deficit that should be explored.


By the end of kindergarten, students should be able to:

  • Recognize all upper and lowercase letters.

  • Name and give sounds for single letters.

  • Know the five short vowel sounds.

  • Read simple consonant-vowel-consonant words.


By the end of first grade, students should be able to:

  • Read words using knowledge of spelling-sound correspondence for common consonant digraphs (i.e., sh, ch, th), trigraphs (i.e., -tch, -dge) , and blends (i.e., fl, str). 

  • Read simple words with r-controlled vowels (i.e., star, born).

  • Read words that use final -e (i.e., bake) and vowel teams which make long-vowel sounds (i.e., boat).

  • Read and spell phonetically regular one-syllable words (i.e., pond, slump).

  • Recognize grade-level sight words (i.e., from, of, put).  Many are tricky because they “don’t follow the rules” and must be memorized.


4.      Fear of Academic Labeling:  The fear of labeling and its potential impact on a child’s academic journey is a genuine concern for parents.   However, studies by the International Dyslexia Association reveal that early intervention not only improves reading outcomes but also minimizes the need for long-term special education services.

5.      Overreliance on School Systems:  Parents may delay seeking help assuming that schools will completely address their child’s specific reading challenges.  The National Center for Education Statistics highlights that while schools play a vital role, parental involvement and early intervention outside the classroom may be key components for successful outcomes.

6.      Third-Grade Reading Indicator:  The third-grade milestone is a critical juncture in a child’s academic journey.  Research consistently shows that students who struggle with reading at this stage are more likely to face academic challenges in later grades.  Delaying intervention can exacerbate these difficulties.


Final Thoughts:   If your child is struggling with reading challenges, you are not alone.  As a Speech-Language Pathologist and Reading Specialist, I will answer your specific questions and gather information to guide you to the next right step for your child.  The clock is ticking, but I’m just a click away!  Visit my website at to learn more about my assessment process and treatment services and how I can support you and your child.             



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