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Glossary of Terms Related to Reading Disabilities Rose

Following is a list of terms related to reading disabilities. ReadingCoach has collected these definitions from a variety of sources, as noted by the reference at the end of each definition. With the exception of ADD, where a specific author is listed, the definition is a direct and complete quotation from the cited source. Definitions that do not list a reference are composite definitions written by ReadingCoach.

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
A severe difficulty in focusing and maintaining attention. Often leads to learning and behavior problems at home, school, and work. Also called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). For official medical definition, refer to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-IV, published by the American Psychiatric Association. (APA, 2000)

1. To combine sounds to make a whole word. This term can be used to denote the process of combining sounds.
2. It can also refer to two or three consonant sounds spoken in sequence before or after vowel, as in st, cr,or pl. (Hall & Moats, 1999)

Code emphasis
Reading approaches that emphasize the decoding of words by their distinct letter-sound correspondences. These approaches generally provide more explicit sequential instruction in the component skills of reading. (Hall & Moats, 1999)

Group effort of special education teachers, regular education teachers, other service providers, and families working together to provide effective services and education. (California Dept. of Education, 1994)

The reader's ability to translate print into speech (identify the word) without respect to whether the word's meaning is understood. A child who has trouble looking at printed letters in text and pronouncing a word is said to have trouble decoding. (Hall & Moats, 1999)

Two letters that represent one speech sound. Examples are the letters th for the sound /th/ in thing, ch for /ch/ in chick, and wh for /wh/ in which. (Hall & Moats, 1999)

Direct instruction
An instructional approach to reading or other academic subjects that emphasizes the use of explicitly explained and carefully sequenced steps that include demonstration, practice, and independent application.

Difficulty in the physical process of writing, including letter formation and the matching of letter symbols to speech sounds. A dysgraphic individual may also have problems "holding the thought" long enough to write it on paper due to the demands of the writing process. Often, dysgraphic handwriting is not very legible, or it is not produced at an age-appropriate speed.

Difficulty with reading that is related to difficulty with language. It is generally assumed to be due to neurological differences in brain function and may vary in degree from mild to severe. (Hall & Moats, 1999)

A severe difficulty in actually recalling words or names needed for oral or written language. Most people experience this problem from time to time (for example, when a word is "on the tip of their tongue"). A person with dysnomia experiences this phenomenon very frequently.

A severe difficulty in performing or sequencing movements necessary for speech, drawing, writing, and other tasks requiring fine motor skill. Researchers believe dyspraxia results when neurological signals from the brain are not consistently or efficiently sent to or received by muscles in other parts of the body.

The process of translating sound into symbols. Encoding is the opposite of decoding. Spelling requires encoding whereas reading requires decoding. (Hall & Moats, 1999)

When a reader is able to read at a fast pace, generally without stopping much to identify words. Researchers believe that in order to gain fluency, a reader has to develop rapid and perhaps automatic word identification processes. (Hall & Moats, 1999)

A letter or letter combination that spells a single phoneme; in English, a grapheme may be one, two, three, or four letters, such as e, ei, igh, or eigh. (Moats,2000)

Individualized education program ( IEP)
A written plan of instruction required by the [U.S.] Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for every school-age individual receiving special education. The plan must include a statements of the individualís strengths and weaknesses, long-term and short-term goals and objectives, and all special services required. (California Dept. of Education, 1994)

Learning differences
The differences in the ability to learn, as experienced by some children, especially those with neurologically based learning disabilities. Having a learning difference is not necessarily a disability, as these children do learn. However, these students need to receive instruction — or may need to demonstrate knowledge — in ways that are not common for other students of the same age.

Learning strategies
Instructional methods to help students attend, listen, read, comprehend, and study more effectively by helping them organize and collect information systematically. (California Dept. of Education, 1994)

Letter recognition
The ability to name a letter when shown the symbol or to find the symbol that goes with a letter name. (Hall & Moats, 1999)

Letter-sound correspondence
The association of a letter with a speech sound. A child who can say or write the correct letter(s) for a speech sound is said to understand letter-sound correspondence. (Hall & Moats, 1999)

Metacognitive learning
The ability to think about how one learns a task. Instruction using metacognitive learning usually teaches the student to analyze his own learning and apply that insight to academic and work assignments. Typical metacognitive techniques include systematic rehearsal of a task or specific selection of previously learned strategies for completing a task.

Multisensory systematic phonics
Some approaches to teaching reading are known as structured multisensory systematic phonics. All of these terms are important in this description. These approaches teach the child the letter-sound relationships in a structured and systematic manner, often with a prescribed sequence. They are multisensory by using tactile and large motor skills in activities, such as skywriting, sand trays, sandpaper letters, or rough carpet samples to imprint the letter shape with its corresponding sound. (Hall & Moats, 1999)

The pattern of written symbols for sounds. (Moats, 1998)

The smallest unit of speech that can be combined with others to make words. (Hall & Moats, 1999)

Phonemic awareness
The conscious awareness that words are composed of separate sounds and the ability to identify and manipulate those sounds. As described in the National Research Council's report, Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children (pg.53), "A child with phonemic awareness is able to discern that camp and soap end with the same sound, that blood and brown begin with the same sound or, more advanced still, that removing the /m/ from smell leaves sell." (Hall & Moats, 1999)

Instruction in how the sounds of speech are represented by letters and spellings. The media has used this term to refer more broadly to approaches that include explicit instruction in the component skills in reading, which is in contrast to approaches that emphasize reading for meaning and de-emphasize teaching the explicit skills. Instruction in phonics is actually only one part, albeit a key component, of a balanced approach to teaching reading. (Hall & Moats, 1999)

Phonological awareness
The ability to attend to the sounds of speech in language. Phonological awareness is a more inclusive term than phonemic awareness. Indications of this awareness include noticing similar sound in words, appreciating rhymes, and counting syllables. Hall & Moats, 1999
Activities at the pre-alphabetic level such as rhyming; counting, adding and deleting syllables; matching beginning consonants in words; recognizing odd sounds are termed phonological awareness tasks. (Moats, 1998)

Resource program
A school program in which a student with learning disabilities is in a regular education classroom for most of each day, but also receives individual or small group services in a separate classroom staffed by a teacher who is specially trained to work with children with learning disabilities. Sometimes this is called a "pull out" program because the child is "pulled out" of the regular classroom for the instruction. The resource teacher may also provide services to the student in the regular classroom. The resource teacher modifies or assists the student in completion of classroom assignments. This form of resource program is sometimes called "push in".

The rime of a word consists of all the sounds from the vowel to the end of the word. For example, in the word street, the rime is eet. This rime sound might be taught with other words that rhyme, such as meet and feet. Most dictionaries simply list "rime" as a variation of "rhyme."

Specific learning disability (SLD)
The official term used in federal legislation to refer to difficulty in certain areas of learning, rather than in all areas of learning. According to the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 34, part 300.7b(10):
"Specific learning disability" means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations. The term includes such conditions as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia and developmental aphasia. The term does not apply to children who have learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, or mental retardation, of emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.
Standardized test
A test given to a large population in which scores are "standardized" using standard deviations to fit a bell-shaped curve. (McGuinness, 1997)

Statistical significance
A probability estimate in which the outcome of a measurement is less that 5 percent (5 in 100) of occurring purely by chance. (McGuinness, 1997)

Word identification
The ability to pronounce a word. Word identification doesn't mean that the reader knows what the word means, just that they can look at the printed word and pronounce it. (Hall & Moats, 1999)

Word family
Same as "rime".

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Sources for glossary definitions:

American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed., text revision). Washington, DC: Author.

California Department of Education, Special Education Division. (1994). I Can Learn: A Handbook for Parents, Teachers, and Students. Sacramento, CA: Author.

Hall, S. L., and Moats, L. C. (1999). Straight Talk About Reading. Chicago: Contemporary Books.

Moats, L.C. (1998, Spring-Summer). "Teaching Decoding." American Educator, pages 42-96.

Moats, L.C. (2000). Speech to Print: Language Essentials for Teachers . Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.

McGuinness, D. (1997). Why Our Children Can't Read and What We Can Do About It. New York: Simon & Schuster.

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