In the second installment of our series, The Plain & Simple: A Blog Series on the WHAT and HOW of Dyslexia, we are going to talk about reading and spelling instruction for dyslexic students.
We have heard many, MANY times, statements such as:
“We bought, "_________ Phonics program." We thought this would help, but it didn't do any good.”
“She was getting help from the reading specialist at school, but we haven’t seen much improvement.”
“His teacher has offered a special class before school and he has been going regularly all year, but it we haven’t seen much difference.”
These failures are not due to a lack of effort by either the student or the educator. It is because the learning needs of a student with dyslexia are very specific.
Research by the National Institutes of Health substantiates that:
…“Best practices” for an individual with dyslexia is to be instructed in reading and spelling in a way that is direct, explicit, and simultaneously multi-sensory. The instruction must start with phonemic awareness instruction, followed by a systematic approach to phonics, both analytic and synthetic. It must also teach reading and spelling as related subjects with intense practice and constant weaving of the concepts taught.
Those are very specific learning needs! Research has shown that Orton-Gillingham based reading and spelling programs are very effective at meeting these learning needs. At Dyslexia Pros, we love the Barton Reading and Spelling system, an Orton-Gillingham based tutoring system. Why you ask? Because it works! It gives us great joy to see our students grow and progress in their reading and spelling abilities. With this dyslexia tutoring, they are able to establish strong reading skills that are firm and solid.
But WAIT! Even with how well Orton-Gillingham based reading programs have been proven to work, sometimes a student is not yet ready for that type of instruction because they have auditory discrimination issues (auditory discrimination is the ability to tell the difference between similar sounds). Every student, no matter the age, should be screened for auditory discrimination. It is critical! If a student has too much difficulty in this area, then instruction using a good auditory discrimination program is essential before moving into an Orton-Gillingham based tutoring program. At Dyslexia Pros, we love the Lindamood-Bell LiPS program. Again, why? It works!
Here is a word of caution! Even with the best instruction, students can fail if:
The instruction is not intensive enough (2x per week for 45 minutes each time is the bare minimum).
Students are in a group that is too large (one-on-one is best, and if that is not an option, the group should absolutely contain no more than 3 students)
If the educator is not well trained (certifications and fidelity requirements exist in these tutoring programs for a reason!)
If tutoring stops too soon. At 2x per week, it takes approximately 3 years for a student to achieve the level of skill he or she needs.
Each of these factors is vitally important!
Reading and spelling instruction that meets a student’s needs, given by a well-trained educator, produces statements such as the one heard just the other day: “I love to read and I love tutoring!”
Stay tuned for more on math and writing tutoring for dyslexic students!