Reading, Nystagmus and Anxiety

Reading Nystagmus and Anxiety

Reading, Nystagmus and Anxiety

So for the longest I have read each night to G. As with most parents, I was keen to get her to enjoy listening to stories so she herself would eventually be able to read.

As time has gone on her concentration has grown…at first only half listening to a page or two, then developing  to be able to listen to a whole book. A small book it might have be! But it is a massive accomplishment for her as her attention span is short!

She is now 6 and at the start of the year, hearing that her cousin of the same age was fluently reading I internally started to worry G may not gain this skill. She listened well but her ability to ‘look’ or focus on a word caused her distress…

I would point to familiar words that she could spell for example ‘Mummy’ or ‘Daddy’ and she would immediately start getting anxious.

I couldn’t understand it….

She could spell it so why was she then not able to read it?

As always, I went on a fact finding mission  and tried some different strategies…

Firstly, larger text.

Then I tried isolating each word.

I then introduced an Octoscope.

But I wasn’t having any success.

I tried holding the books at different angles but that seemed to irritate and distract her. So I just stopped pushing. She was happy enough to listen to the stories. So it was going in…maybe it was time she needed.

Well, I think we have had a breakthrough!

Reading, Nystagmus and Anxiety
Reading, Nystagmus and Anxiety

Steadily I have been increasing our reading time…(it’s a funny game we have before bed. She thinks she’s prolonging staying up by choosing more and more books to read before bed 🙂 yet I’ve moved the bed routine to earlier to allow for more books!)  She is now choosing 3/4 books a night to read and tending to choose the same ones…and though her memory is definitely serving her…she is actually starting to read!

She is recognising the words “The” “And” “A” “Said” and a few more….these are obviously highly repeated words you find in most stories. But what I am realising is that the more she sticks to familiar books, the lower her anxiety is about focusing on the words…

She knows the story, so now when I point to the words she is more relaxed in trying to read them…she does struggle with less repeated words and immediately I sense her anxiety rise. She looks away, she starts chewing and scratching her head frantically. Sometimes she will slap her head in anger. It is like she is angry that her brain is not doing what she want it to, so she hits her head.

This breaks my heart and I’m trying to move her away from fearing getting it ‘wrong’ to being able to know its okay not to know all the words.

Anxiety I think has been stopping her from reading. The unfamiliar makes her brain shut down and unable to process what is in front of her even if a familiar word.

So a new strategy I am going to try is all new books she gets from school, I read to her and don’t ask her to try and read anything. All in the hope that getting familiar with the story first will lower her anxiety and encourage her to then read it herself.

It is only recently I have worked out how anxiety is having an impact on most things she has to do…but I’m finding that if I ‘model it’ (or in the case of reading, read the story to her first) she is more relaxed.

I know that this is the case in regards to physio sessions but it even imagine it would translate to her academic work like reading, writing and playing…

With this new strategy I am also asking HER for help, when I get to a word she knows I ask her to help me as I can’t read it. This makes her so happy to help me and she says “Keep trying Mummy”. This encourages and keeps her enthusiasm for the story. It also helps her realise that I can get things wrong too, and that she is very able to help me.

I am hoping that by lowering her barrier which is the unknown  by modelling or doing the activity first will encourage her more and help grow her confidence.

Have you had any struggles with your children reading? What did you find helped? Drop comments below to help others x

I’ll update you on the reading progress!


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