LITERACY is essential in our society. Yet, at least 4 million school children are failing to acquire proficiency in reading. These children not only fall behind in school work but also suffer profound emotional and social repercussions. The pediatrician can play a role in reducing this sizable loss of individual potential through detecting, evaluating, and referring the retarded reader.
More than 20,000 articles and books are devoted to reading retardation.1-7 While a vast array of information has been accumulated, noticeable gaps in interdisciplinary communication have prevented full use of what is known.
In clinical medicine signs (objective findings) are distinguished from symptoms (subjective complaints). Viewed in this framework retarded reading is a sign which can be identified with reasonable accuracy through standardized tests. Most authorities agree that reading retardation exists when a child's skill in reading falls two or more years below his mental age level, measured respectively by