What Can You Do For Dyslexia?

Dyslexia, in its common usage, refers to people who have trouble reading. It is often associated with not be able to read,  switching letters or reading them backwards. The truth is, many dyslexics can read; they just can’t read well. The word dyslexia means difficulty (dys) with language (lexia). There is much written on what dyslexia is and is not, including government- sanctioned studies by the NIH and others. I won’t go into all that here. What I would like to point out is that there is an intervention that works well when you are working with a child with dyslexia.

First, what does dyslexia look like? These are some things you may have noticed in your child:

  • Difficulty memorizing the alphabet
  • Difficulty remembering unrelated [read that: illogical] sequences such as days of the week and months of the year
  • Difficulty remembering math facts
  • Reads a word on one page then doesn’t recognize it on the next
  • Switching syllables within a word
  • Uses inventive spelling, often leaving out the vowels
  • Can’t tell left from right
  • Can’t figure out how to tie shoes

These are just some of the markers of a dyslexic person. The earlier you see these problems in your child, the more severe the problem. According to Susan Barton of the Barton Reading and Spelling System, the only intervention proven to work is using an Orton-Gillingham based system for learning to read and spell.

My own struggling learner took several years to learn how to read. We tried 100 Easy Lessons, Phonics Pathways, Christian Liberty Press, and finally The Writing Road to Reading. When I got to The Writing Road to Reading, I finally had some success. And guess what? It is based on the Orton-Gillingham method. (I also used Spell to Write and Read for a more structured approach the following year.)

So what is the Orton-Gillingham method? It is a structured learning method that uses all learning styles (visual, auditory, kinesthetic) to teach spelling, reading and writing at the same time as one unit. In other words, it does not separate out reading from spelling from writing. They are all one subject. As a child learns to spell a word, he also learns to read and write it and once learned, should recognize it in reading material.

So, if you are trying to teach a dyslexic child to read (and spell!), be sure the program is Orton-Gillingham based. Those that are usually mention it because it is a proven method, backed up by research.

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