By Lisa Bigney M.A., M.Ed, RITES Co-Director, Certified Dyslexia Interventionist
What is Dyslexia?
Is your child among the approximately 20% of the population who struggle to read? If so, your child may have dyslexia. Dyslexia is a type of learning difference that makes it difficult to learn to read, write and spell, despite normal intelligence and sufficient instruction. Dyslexia is brain-based and is caused by a different “wiring” of the brain.
Here are some red flags that your child may be dyslexic:
- Avoids reading
- Reads slowly/haltingly
- Transposes words (felt/left)
- Skips or guesses at words
- Fatigues easily when reading
- Misspells words
- Writes illegibly
- Reverses letters (b/d) and numbers
- Resists reading aloud, but likes to be read to
- Feels embarrassed about reading out loud at school
- Knows of a relative who has reading/writing/spelling difficulties
Sometimes, teachers are not properly trained to recognize this learning difference. They may consider a child “lazy” or “stupid,” but nothing is farther from the truth! Thomas Edison, Stephen Spielberg, and Walt Disney are just a few people with dyslexia. In fact, dyslexia can sometimes go hand-in-hand with a creative thinking style, which can lead to much success.
However, dyslexia can be frustrating and painful for a child trying to learn in a “traditional” classroom environment. This is especially true if the classroom structure does not accommodate the specific needs and learning style of that child. Those diagnosed with dyslexia benefit from structured literacy instruction taught by a well-trained teacher. This type of effective instruction focuses on the efficient and clear teaching of the structure of reading, writing, and spelling, with a phonics base.
How Structured Literacy Programs Help With Dyslexia
A significant amount of research done over the last 50 years delves into how best to support students with dyslexia, as well as other students who struggle to read. This research is called The Science of Reading and demonstrates how important it is to support those with dyslexia using multisensory, structured literacy instruction methods. Structured literacy is a teaching method that helps children learn to read, write, and spell, because traditional school teaching methods have not helped them progress. Importantly, structured literacy methods emphasize building foundational skills in a specific, logical order. The focus is on phonics (including “phonemic awareness,” understanding the relationship between letters and their sounds, as well as building and pulling apart words using this knowledge).
The Benefits of Mutisensory Instruction
Presenting lessons in a multisensory way involves seeing, hearing, and doing something at the same time. This, in turn, enhances a child’s ability to remember information. Additionally, multisensory teaching uses multiple pathways of the brain at the same time to teach skills. Individualizing and tailoring each lesson to every student, each time they read, is a hallmark of good multisensory instruction. By experiencing multisensory learning, each student can access the reading process and experience personal success.
When dyslexic students receive the appropriate reading instruction, they have the opportunity to “crack the code” of reading. This leads to better, more complete learning and growth. And, they can accomplish this without losing the unique thinking that allows many dyslexics to look at the world differently and solve problems in novel ways. Systematic, structured, phonics-based reading instruction without sacrificing creativity and individuality…doesn’t that seem like a win-win scenario for your child?
To find out more about the effective structured literacy instruction RI Tutorial offers, contact us today.