Reading Difficulties

Reading difficulties can occur for a wide range of reasons and can affect people of all ages. Reading is important for:

  • learning new words
  • developing language understanding
  • learning about the world
  • developing imagination
  • assisting with academic achievement.

In the early years of schooling, it is important for children to develop the ability to correctly read words as well as understand what they are reading.

Not all children develop reading skills when taught to the whole class. Some children need extra one-on-one instruction and practice of pre-reading skills before they can learn to read words. For example, recognising the sounds that letters make and breaking up words they hear into their sounds (e.g. dog = d-o-g).

Who can help?

Speech Pathologists are trained in assisting people to develop early reading skills and later reading comprehension skills. This means they can help people at any age to improve their ability to recognise sounds, sound out words and understand what they are reading.

When to seek help from a Speech Pathologist:

It is recommended that a child have a reading assessment if they have difficulty with the following tasks based on schooling years:

Year 1 or 2 :

  • Identifying the sounds that letters make.
  • Sounding out new words (note they may instead try to guess the word).
  • Identifying the sounds in 3-4 letter words (e.g. cat, spot).


Year 3+ :

  • Reading books that they have not seen before.
  • Reading fluently i.e. their reading is slow and they need to sound out each word.
  • Reading longer words with different sounds (e.g. holiday, favourite).
  • Answering questions on what they have just read.