Nine Year Old Reading Problems

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Dear Dr. Susan:

My 9 year old daughter who has mild SID, is very intelligent but she is having trouble reading. She has trouble sounding out words. From what I have read I suspect the problem lies with her auditory processing. How do I help her overcome this so she can read?


Dear Jessy:

Thanks so much for writing to me and visiting the website.

A multi-sensory approach to reading is my suggestion for you at home. Be sure you read a lot to her: chapter stories, rhymes, joke books, picture stories or sports or hobbies or word dictionaries that are in two languages. Help her learn cursive writing, (long hand) and tell her writing and drawing are part of learning to read better!

A tutor from the local community college could be the spark your 9 year old needs to enjoy reading out loud without fear of making mistakes. Reading silly children stories backwards, line by line, like the “Curious George” books or nursery rhymes, or “Big Fred and Little Ted.” Reading out loud is a must. Be sure you meet with her teachers and clearly explain what you want your daughter to be doing, e.g. reading out loud, going ahead with cursive and heavy on the drawing and art work.

Maybe she could attend a museum art class near you or get involved with the visual arts like clay sculpting or a sport that enhances her coordination. By age 9, you should identify her strengths and talents and let her know how great they are. Poor reading is not an indicator of future school success. Poor readers need to catch up, but they may always find it hard or even “not fun” to read. They can compensate in many ways and still get good grades.

Auditory processing means “copying: with the need to listen and paying attention to what sounds are all around her. At home, remind her that you are talking to her, and she needs to stop and listen, teachers sometimes also forget to remind students about this. Music, art, dramatic readings, writing songs or poetry, or doing theme projects are all ways to encourage reading in fun ways. Even cooking can be a “reading” boost. So buy her a kids cookbook, or a gardening magazine or let her pick one from the library.

  1. Reading out loud helps phonics and letter – sound matches
  2. Reading in rhymes helps vocabulary and sight word recognition
  3. Reading at night in bed as a privilege helps her feel you think of her as a reader
  4. Reading to her makes her follow along and learn the words as a “whole” rather than just “sounding each word out,” too boring and too demeaning to do that and be wrong
  5. Tell her you’ll be her own personal walking dictionary and mean it; if she sees you reading and asking how to spell a word or what it means, she‘ll be far less anxious and she’ll stop guessing on words. That’s what most auditory processing problems cause children to do:
  6. Fail to stop and listen
  7. Guess at words and forget to remember what the words mean

“Reading” musical notes for most of us is difficult . Think of your child encountering these strange notes every time she starts to read. Then you’ll realize how you can empathize with her.

Thank you again.

Susan H. Turben, Ph.D.

Ask Dr. Susan