My nephew was diagnosed by a psychologist with rapid recall as well as rapid naming deficiencies. I was hoping to provide his parents with some resources to help them and him become more independent. He is 12, he can read and is quite gifted in other areas. He does suffer from ADD, for which he is medicated. It seems as though, from an outsider's perspective, his parents are pulling him out of activities and making excuses for him if he doesn't excel at something such as playing a musical instrument or speaking French. When I asked how it was treated or how he can be helped to overcome or cope better, they did not have an answer. Can you please help me understand or guide them to resources that can help him improve on these or cope more independently with these deficiencies? Your help and guidance is greatly appreciated.


Dr. Pierson's Response: 

From your description, it sounds like your nephew has strong decoding skills (i.e., he can sound out words), which is why you say he can read, but his challenges stem from his Rapid Automatic Naming (RAN) challenges. The good news is that of the children who manifest the challenges of dyslexia, those who can decode but have RAN difficulties fair the best (children with decoding challenges cannot access the text to begin with). RAN challenges affect automaticity and reading fluently. For these children, the gift of time is essential. When given adequate time, they can succeed. Your nephew should have accommodations such that he receive additional time for assignments and test taking when reading is involved (which is virtually always).

Here are some suggestions for improving fluency. I also have a bit about RAN here under the Professionals portal. If some of it doesn't make sense, please ask.

Children with RAN and fluency problems also benefit from direct instruction in strategies to improve reading comprehension. Teaching them strategies that activate prior knowledge before they read, to actively engage in reading, question and summarize as they go along, check for comprehension, etc. can aid comprehension and outcomes. I've information here on reading comprehension.

With the exception of learning a foreign language or when he is confronted with written text, I hope that excuses are not being made because of his dyslexia. Many dyslexics find learning another language very challenging due to the fact that dyslexia has an underlying spoken language component. The research shows that many dyslexics struggle to learn a foreign language because of the underlying spoken language component in dyslexia. Some of our kids have taken Sign Language to fulfill the foreign language credit.

We all have strengths and weaknesses. The challenge for the dyslexic is that his weakness(es) is/are in an area that he is confronted with every day, especially in school. Your nephew should be encouraged to continue to pursue areas of strength and interest. This helps build self-confidence.

I would hope that the professional who evaluated your nephew could provide some guidance. You might want to check with a university in the area. Sometimes they have training programs that provide low-cost therapy services.

Last, and importantly, these kids all need someone who advocates for them until they are old enough to advocate for themselves. Your nephew is lucky to have you going to bat for him!