Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Reading is a complicated process, involving recognition of symbols of
language in a printed form. It is not an innate skill, but rather must be
learned. Written words bear no meaning until the reader constructs meaning by
making inferences and interpretations.
Acquisition of reading skills is closely tied to
development of language in children. The ability to break down words into
individual sounds or phonemes, is the core skill that needs to be mastered in
order to be a fluent reader. This is called "phonemic awareness." For example,
in reading the word "CAT," one must be aware of its component graphemes, and
then break it down into the phonemes C/Ah/T. Then one must blend the phonemes
back into the spoken word "CAT" which is then produced. This process is called
"decoding." It sounds complicated, and it is. Yet most children with access to instruction and in the absence of
sensory or other neurological deficits master this skill easily.
But for about 10-15% of children, this basic process is impaired often
leading to lifelong struggles with reading. These are individuals with the
called "Reading Disorder." It is also popularly known as