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Clinic at the Royal Children's Hospital

Learning to read and write is a complex process requiring explicit teaching, and is different to learning to talk which is a natural phenomenon. Children who have difficulty learning to read or write are highly likely to have underlying difficulties with hearing the sounds or words of spoken language and representing these sounds using letters. Untreated, reading and writing difficulties can have significant impacts on a child’s ability to access school curricula, and achieve academic success.

Difficulties with reading and writing in children in preschool-Year 3 may present as:

  • Trouble learning the alphabet, numbers, colours, shapes, days of the week
  • Difficulty following directions or learning routines
  • Trouble learning the connection between letters and sounds
  • Unable to blend sounds to make words
  • Confuses basic words when reading
  • Consistently misspells words and makes frequent reading errors
  • Slow to learn new skills

For older children and adolescents, reading difficulties may present as:

  • Difficulty with reading comprehension
  • Trouble with open-ended test questions and word problems
  • Dislike of reading and writing; avoidance of reading aloud
  • Spelling the same word differently in a single document
  • Poor organisational skills (bedroom, homework, desk is messy and disorganised)
  • Trouble following classroom discussions and expressing thoughts aloud
  • Poor handwriting

Speech pathologists have expert insight into oral language and speech and can provide a comprehensive language and literacy assessment beneficial for identifying potential reading and writing difficulties. Following these assessments they can provide evidence-based, individualised therapy to address these problems.

The following practitioners at CPMG can be of service in helping determine the cause of reading and writing difficulties in children and adolescents:

Daryl is a paediatrician who has worked at the Royal Children’s Hospital for 30 years and currently holds appointments as a general paediatrician in the department of General Medicine at the Royal Children’s Hospital, associate professor in the University of Melbourne Department of Paediatrics, and senior research fellow in the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.

Daryl is active in research into better ways to treat children with developmental disorders such as autism, ADHD and Tourette syndrome.

Michaela trained as a Paediatrician at the Royal Children’s and The Mercy Hospitals in Melbourne.

During her training Michaela specialised in developmental and behavioural paediatrics, but since then she has continued to work both acute and outpatient settings, seeing children of all ages, including babies.

Michaela’s areas of interests include developmental delay, speech delay, failure to thrive and growth concerns, Autism, ADHD, constipation, encopresis and enuresis, behavioural problems, anxiety, eczema, asthma and urinary tract infections.

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