Thursday, May 03, 2012
The cause of reading problems

By Dr. Anthony Policastro

I often hear parents express concern about their child's reading comprehension. There is a perception that this is an issue that is separate from other skills. This is not the case. There are many issues that affect reading. If a child has one of these issues, then the real problem is a reading problem. It is not a comprehension issue. For example, some children struggle with recognizing words when they are reading. This might be related to a problem with their visual memory. They do not remember having seen the words before. Therefore when they read, they spend a lot of time trying to remember what the word is. They will at first try to remember if they saw it before. If they did, they will spend time trying to recall what the word was the last time they saw it. If they do not remember seeing it, they will then try to sound out the word. The result is that they are focusing on getting the words correct. They are not paying attention to the meaning of the sentence or the paragraph. They might finally make it through the paragraph. However, since they were paying attention only to the words and not to the meaning of the paragraph, they will have no idea what they read. It is not a reading comprehension issue. It is a word identification issue. They are so focused on the words they are not paying attention to the meaning. These children might do much better with comprehension if someone else reads the story so they don't have to concentrate on the words. Parents might wonder why there is such a big difference. In actuality, there is no difference. They would do just as well with comprehension when reading themselves if they did not have to ignore the meaning while trying to get the words correct. Another example of this is the child with vision problems. The letters on the page look blurry which forces them to concentrate on what they are seeing not reading. This is not a reading comprehension issue. They are just not paying attention to the meaning of what they are reading. They are focused more on seeing what the words are. Some children will have issues with distractibility. They will begin reading a paragraph but while they are reading, their minds wander. They are thinking about what they are going to be doing after school. They are looking at the words. They are going through the paragraph. However, they are not paying attention to the words. As a result, when they get to the end of the paragraph they cannot tell you what they read. There is a difference in this situation compared to the other two. In the other situations, the reader is concentrating on the words. Therefore, they will be able to tell you some of the words they read. They might even be able to recall bits and pieces of the paragraph. In the distractible child, it is like the paragraph was not even read. They not only do not recall the meaning, but they also do not recall much of the content. We sometimes think of reading comprehension as a separate learning skill. It is indeed a separate skill. However, there are many other things that can masquerade as a reading comprehension issue. We need to make sure that we are looking at the correct problem when we see a child with reading comprehension issues. Their reading comprehension might be just fine. The problem might be elsewhere.

Protect your skin this summer Bayhealth offers the following tips on skin protection during Skin Cancer Awareness Month in May.

  • If you know you're going to be outdoors exposed to the summer sun, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Reapply the sunscreen every two hours or more if you're swimming or perspiring.
  • If you can, try to avoid sun exposure between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when the sun's rays are the most intense.
  • Limit your sun exposure by wearing light colored long sleeve shirts, long pants and wide-brimmed hats.
  • Watch for signs of skin damage including moles, lesions, a reddened skin area, a sore that does not heal, or changes in an existing mole. If you see these warning flags, get them checked by a doctor.
Free skin screenings will be held on Monday, May 7 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Bayhealth Cancer Center at Milford Memorial Hospital and Friday, May 25 from 8 a.m. to noon at 737 S. Queen St., Dover. To register, call 302-744-6752 or 302-430-5064.

Two cases of rabies confirmed Two raccoons, one in Frederica and one in Frankford, tested positive for rabies this week after contact with residents' dogs. No humans were bitten. The Division of Public Health reminds people that as weather warms and we start spending more time outdoors, we increase our risk of exposure to rabid animals. DPH advises that wild mammals in Delaware should be regarded as if they may have rabies, no matter their location. Pet vaccinations and awareness are the best defense. Since January, the Delaware Public Health (DPH) Laboratory has tested 30 animals, of which three (10 percent) were found positive for rabies. Rabies is a deadly disease that kills both animals and humans. When untreated, the rabies virus is almost always fatal. Fortunately, rabies is also almost 100 percent preventable. "It's important to remember that having unvaccinated pets or spending time outdoors can put you within reach of a rabid animal," said Dr. Karyl Rattay, director, Division of Public Health. "DPH urges people not to approach or feed wild animals and strays. Protect yourself, your pet and the community by getting your animals vaccinated."

DE-Feet Breast Cancer Walk Tanger Outlets Rehoboth will host a 5K Run/Walk and 1-Mile Walk to benefit the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition on Sunday, May 20. The race begins at 8 a.m. and the walk at 9 a.m. Cost is $20 per person ($25 the day of the event). All ages are invited to participate. Run or walk, form a team. Pre-register to get a t-shirt. There will be individual and team awards. Lace up and register now at

Milford Memorial Hospital Fair The Bayhealth Milford Memorial Auxiliary sponsors the 55th Annual Milford Memorial Hospital Fair on Saturday, May 19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., on the grounds of Milford Middle School. The entire family will enjoy a Civil War re-enactment, the 4th Annual Tricycle Race, children's games, stock car track, strolling entertainer, rides and inflatables, a petting zoo, great food, crafts, and vendors' booths, as well as a full schedule of entertainment throughout the day that includes the Milford's Got Talent Show.

There will also be a special tent offering free health screenings and the Planetree Carnival showcasing Bayhealth's Planetree model of patient-centered care. The kick-off to the 55th Annual Milford Memorial Hospital Fair will be a pulled pork or chicken dinner plus flower and book sales on Friday evening, May 18 from 5:30 to 7. To purchase tickets for the dinner, call George Caccamise at 302-422-6815. The Hospital Fair Raffle will give you the chance to choose from three prizes - a two night stay for two at the Atlantic Sands Hotel in Rehoboth, dinner for two at Back Porch Cafe, and massages for two at Bad Hair Day; an original 11 x 14 framed photo "Villa Cimbrone in Ravello, Italy" from photographer Bob Connelly and dinner for two at Bonz Restaurant; or dinner for two from five local restaurants - Abbott's Grill, Bethany Blues, The Buttery, Georgia House and Restaurant 55. Raffle tickets are $2 each or six tickets for $10 and may be purchased in the Reflections Gift Shop at Milford Memorial, Retail Shop at Kent General, EcoChic Boutique and Dolce in downtown Milford or by calling 302-233-8448. Winning tickets will be drawn at the end of the fair. Net proceeds from this year's fair will be used to purchase equipment for the surgical units. Visit for more information. For questions about the fair, call Kim Wilkins at 302-430-5719.

Advanced medical billing and coding Training programs in the health professions continue to provide students with the skills to start a career in this high demand area. The Sussex Tech Adult Division is offering a variety of programs to prepare students for successful careers. Space is still available in the Advanced Medical Billing and Coding class that will begin on May 17. Students will learn more advanced skills and coding using the ICD and CPT Coding. Charting and more detailed applications are included. Basic Billing and Coding is required prior to enrollment in the advanced class. Classes are held every Tuesday and Thursday evening from May 17 through June 21 from 6 to 9 p.m. Cost of the course is $399. For more information, contact the Sussex Tech Adult Division at 856-9035 or visit

Annual Hear We Go 5K The 4th Annual Hear We Go 5k Fun Run/Walk will be held Sunday, May 6, on the grounds of Nemours Mansion & Gardens, the largest formal French garden in North America. Registration begins at noon and the race starts at 1 p.m. The goal of the Hear We Go 5K run/walk is to raise awareness about the importance of proper and timely diagnosis and management of hearing loss in children in order to facilitate their language development and improve the quality of life for these children and their families. Proceeds benefit clinical and research programs related to pediatric hearing loss and hearing conservation at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children and Nemours Biomedical Research. To date, this event has raised over $40,000. Cost is $20 for those who register before 3 p.m. on Thursday, May 3 and $25 thereafter. Register as an individual or form a team. For more information, call 302-651-6839 or visit www.nemoursorg/hearwego.

Stroke and osteoporosis screenings Residents living in and around the Bridgeville community can be screened to reduce their risk of having a stroke or bone fracture. Union United Methodist Church will host Life Line Screening on Friday, May 4. The site is located at 2 N. Laws St., Bridgeville. Screenings identify potential cardiovascular conditions such as blocked arteries and irregular heart rhythm, abdominal aortic aneurysms, and hardening of the arteries in the legs, which is a strong predictor of heart disease. A bone density screening to assess osteoporosis risk is also offered and is appropriate for both men and women. Packages start at $149. All five screenings take 60 to 90 minutes to complete. For more information regarding the screenings or to schedule an appointment, call 1-877-237-1287 or visit Pre-registration is required.

NMH offers CPR classes Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will offer community CPR classes to anyone interested in learning CPR at the Nanticoke Training Center located on Water Street in Seaford. Participants will learn how to perform the basic skills of CPR on adults, children, and infants and how to help an adult, child, or infant who is choking and use of the AED. This classroom-based, video, and instructor-led CPR course offers families, friends, and community members the opportunity to learn CPR and need a course completion card. Classes are open to participants ages 12 and up. This program is specifically designed for those who prefer to learn in a group environment with feedback from an instructor. The target audience is those who have a duty to respond to a cardiac emergency. Cost is $40. Payment and registration is required by no later than five business days prior to the class. Late registrations may be accepted if seating is available. To register and to obtain a listing of class dates/times, contact the Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Training Center office at 629-6611, ext. 8919. Pre-registration is required.

Breast cancer support group Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, Inc. (DBCC) has expanded its Beginning Your Pink Ribbon Journey, a program for women newly-diagnosed with breast cancer, by partnering with Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Cancer Center in Seaford. The free, monthly program is offered at the Cancer Center located at 801 Middleford Road, Seaford, the third Thursday of each month from 3 to 4 p.m. To learn more, call Lois Wilkinson at 672-6435. Registration is required and light refreshments and small gifts are provided.

Safe Boating Class The United States Power Squadron will conduct a Safe Boating Course at the Nanticoke River Yacht Club from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 12. The fee is $20 per person or $30 for up to three in the same family. Pre-registration is from 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 5 at the Nanticoke River Yacht Club. Students must be at least 12-years-old to take this class. Course books will be given to study in advance which is strongly encouraged. Contact C.M. Kohlenberg at 629-0687 or Rob Hutton at 628-0312 for more information.