How Various Learning and Attention Issues Can Cause Trouble With Reading

Posted by | Nov 15, 2017

At a Glance

  • A number of learning and attention issues can cause reading problems.
  • These issues can affect the mechanics of reading as well as comprehension.
  • Different kinds of learning issues often require different strategies to help with reading.

There are many reasons why kids might have trouble with reading. One of the most common is dyslexia. But other challenges can also affect how kids process written language.

Find out how different learning and attention issues can impact reading. And discover strategies that can help.

How Dyslexia Can Affect Reading

What it is: A lifelong condition that creates difficulty with reading and with processing language. It’s the most common learning issue.

The reading connection: Kids with dyslexia struggle with decoding. They have trouble connecting letter symbols to the sounds those symbols make. And that makes it hard for them to read fluently and accurately. It can also impact reading comprehension. (See a detailed list of signs of dyslexia.)

Specific difficulties: Kids with dyslexia often have trouble with early language skills. They may not be able to recognize the individual sounds in words (phonemic awareness), for instance. They may also struggle with reading comprehension and have problems answering questions about what they’ve read. Dyslexia can also impact spelling, writing and math.

Strategies to try: Find tips to help your child recognize sight words. Help your child connect letters to sounds in everyday activities. Discover ways to improve your child’s reading comprehension.

How ADHD Can Affect Reading

What it is: An issue with brain structure and chemistry that makes it hard to pay attention. Kids with ADHD have trouble with executive function. In addition to attention, they often struggle with key skills like working memory, flexible thinking and self-control. Many are also hyperactive.

The reading connection: Trouble with working memory makes it hard for kids to remember the rules of reading. Trouble with self-control and focus can impact how well they understand what they’ve read. Learn more about how executive functioning issues impact reading.

Specific difficulties: Kids may have trouble recalling what they read earlier in the text and connecting it to what they’re reading now. They may also rush to get done faster, miss key details and not take the time to think about what they’ve read. And frustration may make them give up on a reading task.

Strategies to try: Come up with tricks for remembering reading rules, such as a formula or rhyme. Use a chart to help your child track “who, what, when, where, and why.” Have your child explain in his own words what he’s read. Add some action—act out scenes and read aloud. And encourage activity breaks.

How Nonverbal Learning Disabilities (NVLD) Can Affect Reading

What it is: A lifelong learning issue that affects social skills, abstract thinking and grasp of spatial relationships. Kids with NVLD often have strong language skills, but have trouble sorting through information and understanding bigger concepts.

The reading connection: Many kids with NVLD have problems with reading comprehension. They struggle to find the “larger message” in what they read.

Specific difficulties: Kids tend to take what they read too literally. They have trouble grasping humor, emotion, themes and symbolism. They may not enjoy fiction because it “isn’t true.” NVLD can also make it hard for kids to understand what motivates characters.

Strategies to try: Discuss characters and themes before your child starts reading. Ask open-ended questions about text, like how characters might feel or why something happened. And don’t give up on fiction. Try to find novels that match your child’s interests.

How Slow Processing Speed Can Affect Reading

What it is: An issue that causes kids to take a long time to process and respond to information. It’s not a specific learning or attention issue. But it can contribute to issues like ADHD and dyslexia. Slow processing speed can also impact executive functioning skills.

The reading connection: Kids need extensive time to decode words, apply reading rules and make sense of text. That can make reading tasks long and frustrating.

Specific difficulties: Kids may miss the meaning of phrases and sentences because decoding takes so much time. They may have trouble making sense of stories because they’re so bogged down in the text.

Strategies to try: Make sure your child is given the extra time he needs to read texts through his IEP or 504 plan. Practice sight words to help make reading more automatic. Set realistic goals and give your child incentives to improve reading speed.

There are many things you can do at home to help and encourage your child to read. Discover more strategies for building reading skills.

Find out what to do if you think your child might have dyslexia, ADHD or other learning and attention issues. These may include visual processing issues, which can cause kids to struggle with letter reversals. You may want to consider having your child evaluated. That can show what’s at the root of his reading issues and help you find the best ways to help your child.

Key Takeaways

  • Dyslexia is a common learning issue that causes trouble with reading.
  • Trouble with attention and working memory can also make it hard to build reading skills.
  • A full evaluation will help reveal what’s at the root of your child’s reading challenges.

By Peg Rosen

Source: Understood


Evoke has been absolutely essential to the academic success of all three of our children. Evoke’s skilled staff and tutors were able to assess and remediate gaps and challenges that... read more

Laura Harvey Avatar Laura Harvey
November 17, 2023

Vic has been an amazing support for our teen. I catch bits of their sessions together and Vic is so compassionate, engaging, practical and intentional. Our teen truly... read more

Bruce Sellery Avatar Bruce Sellery
October 22, 2023

This tutoring has been a game changer for my son. The staff are fabulous; kind and patient with him and his learning needs. Highly recommend! And we love Lea!

Amanda Tulk-O'Reilly Avatar Amanda Tulk-O'Reilly
October 6, 2022

My son was diagnosed with ADHD-Combined, and we were very fortunate to discover Evoke Learning. Over the past 1.5 years, Evoke Learning has been instrumental in helping my... read more

JT Avatar JT
April 6, 2022

I worked with Richard at Evoke over several months and he was immensely helpful. Besides being professional and effective, Richard was very compassionate and empathetic. During my time working with... read more

Bree Avatar Bree
April 6, 2022

My son was diagnosed with ADHD plus an LD and he was having difficulty with his high school classes. After searching for tutors for my son and coming up... read more

Trecia Downes Avatar Trecia Downes
April 6, 2022

Our experience with Evoke has been fantastic. Everyone from the administrative staff, to the assessment staff to the tutors are incredible professional, and knowledgeable. The virtual experience was great, my... read more

Anne-Marie Gabrini Avatar Anne-Marie Gabrini
April 6, 2022

My name is Jessica and I’ve had Richard as my academic coach for the last 1.5 years. I am completing my Master’s and as someone with ADHD, I was very... read more

Kimberley Gemmell Avatar Kimberley Gemmell
April 6, 2022

I went to Evoke for several months for ADHD counselling. I had Richard Comeau, who was unbelievably helpful with improving my work ethic, organizational skills, motivation, and note taking/studying strategies.... read more

Evan Applebaum Avatar Evan Applebaum
April 6, 2022

The reading program at Evoke helped me feel empowered and strengthen my reading. This program truly has impacted my life in such a positive way. This program not only helped... read more

Vanessa Garritano Avatar Vanessa Garritano
April 6, 2022

I had the chance to work with Richard this year on improving my learning skills and over that time I've become a different person with a completely different mindset on... read more

Naomi Tomeo Avatar Naomi Tomeo
April 6, 2022

My 14 year old son has been working with Andrew for a couple of years to get help with math and science and he loves it so much my 16... read more

Dorothy Steel Avatar Dorothy Steel
April 6, 2022

I worked with Richard at Evoke over several months and he was immensely helpful. Besides being professional and effective, Richard was very compassionate and empathetic. During my time working with... read more

Bree Lawrence Avatar Bree Lawrence
November 22, 2021

I feel so much gratitude for the services of Evoke Learning. Our child developed reading skills during our time with Evoke which was a huge milestone. Dollar for... read more

Lee May Nikoletos Avatar Lee May Nikoletos
April 6, 2021

A friend recommended Evoke after I shared concerns with my daughter’s reading development. She had used Evoke more than five years ago and still raves about the positive impact for... read more

Shalini Mitchell Avatar Shalini Mitchell
April 6, 2021

I have nothing but positive things to say about our Evoke Learning experience. From the initial phone call, to the intake meeting to, in our instance, the weekly sessions, there... read more

Mike Dietrich Avatar Mike Dietrich
April 6, 2021

Kate is quite possibly the most helpful person I have worked with in the 20+ years of managing my ADHD. She is down to earth, intelligent, compassionate and truly incredible... read more

Emmett Johnston Avatar Emmett Johnston
April 6, 2021

I had the pleasure of being mentored by Richard. He taught me how to maximize my school performance, and to learn how to work with my ADHD and learning... read more

Cameron Oland Avatar Cameron Oland
April 6, 2021

I’ve had nothing but positive experiences at Evoke, having worked with two of their coaches (Aaron and Richard). With their professionalism, kindness, and expertise, I’ve been making real progress on... read more

C. James Avatar C. James
April 6, 2021

Our daughter has learning disabilities and ADHD. When she began having difficulties during university, Kate Lloyd was recommended. Kate’s counselling was excellent and enabled our daughter to graduate... read more

Marilyn Gillespie Avatar Marilyn Gillespie
April 6, 2020

I have been working with Evoke Learning for my ADHD for about five years. Before I started working with my tutor I was having a lot of difficulties at school... read more

Keegan Gardner-Elmer Avatar Keegan Gardner-Elmer
April 6, 2020

As a Mom of a student with learning disabilities, I highly recommend the coaching and tutoring services of Denise Harding and the staff at both the Evoke Learning Aurora and... read more

Glenna Davis Avatar Glenna Davis
April 6, 2020

****5 STARS HANDS DOWN!!!!**** Kate Lloyd, the owner of Evoke Learning- is one of the most amazing and outstanding human beings that I have ever met in my life.... read more

Malaika Jackson Avatar Malaika Jackson
April 6, 2020

It is difficult to sum up how much Evoke’s services have helped me to reach my goals and realize my full potential at university and beyond. From my in-person coaching... read more

Carli G Avatar Carli G
April 6, 2020

I have been using Evoke's services for the past two years while being in university. I have to say, Kate (the owner) has gone ABOVE and BEYOND for me! She... read more

Hailey Merten Avatar Hailey Merten
April 6, 2020

I worked with Evoke's learning for helping my niece. She wanted to be in the baseball team and we weren't ready to allow her as she is an ADHD kid.... read more

Linda Wells Avatar Linda Wells
April 6, 2020

We have made Evoke our go-to resource for several years. One of our children had been diagnosed with a learning difference and ADHD, in grade three, and needed a support... read more

Anouchka Freybe Avatar Anouchka Freybe
April 6, 2020

I had the pleasure of working as a coach and mentor at Evoke Learning. I was very impressed with the quality of training I received by Kate Lloyd, and have... read more

Uzma Abdullah Avatar Uzma Abdullah
April 6, 2020

I would give 10 stars if I could! Kate Lloyd is amazing at what she does. I had always struggled to take tests through University and Graduate school so... read more

Jaclyn Clarkson Avatar Jaclyn Clarkson
April 6, 2020

I hired Evoke Learning to help coach and organize my child when he went off to university. They did an excellent job and were very professional with their services, invoicing,... read more

Diana Lawrence Avatar Diana Lawrence
April 6, 2020

We have had the greatest pleasure of Learning about Evoke. They have been phenomenal working along with my daughter. Denise was a great mentor for my daughter... read more

Daniela Saker Avatar Daniela Saker
April 6, 2020

My daughter has been with Evoke Learning and with the academic coaching program for two years. In that time, I can say that she’s really become much stronger in her... read more

Lily McClelland Avatar Lily McClelland
April 6, 2020

Great coaching services for students with ADHD and/or executive function deficits. Denise is organized, structured and holds her clients accountable for their 'homework'. I highly recommend Evoke to parents who... read more

B “onekgirl” K Avatar B “onekgirl” K
April 6, 2020

I can say both my boys used Evoke Learning to sharpen their study skills and benefitted from the coaching they received. I would recommend Evoke Learning when a child needs... read more

Lily Polemidiotis Avatar Lily Polemidiotis
April 6, 2020

My Son Marco has been going to Evoke for English and Math, and we are so happy with his progress. He has worked with Bridgitt and Mohammed and they... read more

Amy Gesualdo Avatar Amy Gesualdo
April 6, 2020