Interventions for Dyslexia
Q: Can Individuals Who Are Dyslexic Learn To Read?
If children who are dyslexic get effective phonological training in Kindergarten and 1st grade, they will have significantly fewer problems in learning to read at grade level than do children who are not identified or helped until 3rd grade.
74% of the children who are poor readers in 3rd grade remain poor readers in the 9th grade. Often they can't read well as adults either.
It is never too late for individuals with dyslexia to learn to read, process and express information more efficiently. Research shows that programs utilizing multisensory structured language techniques can help children and adults learn to read.
Q: Is there solid evidence that multisensory, structured literacy teaching is effective for students with dyslexia?
Current research, much of it supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), has demonstrated the value of explicit, structured language teaching for all students, especially those with dyslexia. Programs that work differ in their techniques but have many principles in common. The multisensory principle that is so valued by experienced clinicians has not yet been isolated in controlled, comparison studies of reading instruction, but most programs that work do include multisensory practice for symbol learning.
Instructional approaches that are effective use direct, explicit teaching of letter-sound relationships, syllable patterns, and meaningful word parts, and provide a great deal of successful practice of skills that have been taught. Fluency-building exercises, vocabulary instruction, language comprehension and writing are also included in comprehensive programs of instruction and intervention. Word recognition and spelling skills are applied in meaningful reading and writing of sentences and text passages, and students receive immediate feedback if they make mistakes.
Q: What is Structured Literacy?
A: The most difficult problem for students with dyslexia is learning to read. Unfortunately, popularly employed reading approaches, such as Guided Reading or Balanced Literacy, are not effective for struggling readers. These approaches are especially ineffective for students with dyslexia because they do not focus on the decoding skills these students need to succeed in reading.What does work is Structured Literacy, which prepares students to decode words in an explicit and systematic manner. This approach not only helps students with dyslexia, but there is substantial evidence that it is more effective for all readers.
Structured Literacy instruction is marked by several elements:Phonology. Phonology is the study of sound structure of spoken words and is a critical element of Structured Languageinstruction. Phonological awareness includes rhyming, counting words in spoken sentence, and clapping syllables in spoken words. An important aspect of phonological awareness is phonemic awareness or the ability to segment words into their component sounds, which are called phonemes. A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound in a given language that can be recognized as being distinct from other sounds in the language. For example, the word cap has three phonemes (/k/, /ă/, /p/), and the word clasp has five phonemes (/k/, /l/, /ă/, /s/, /p/).
Sound-Symbol Association. Once students have developed the awareness of phonemes of spoken language, they must learn how to map the phonemes to symbols or printed letters. Sound-symbol association must be taught and mastered in two directions: visual to auditory (reading) and auditory to visual (spelling). Additionally, students must master the blending of sounds and letters into words as well as the segmenting of whole words into the individual sounds. The instruction of sound-symbol associations is often referred to as phonics. Although phonics is a component of Structured Literacy, it is embedded within a rich and deep language context.
Syllable Instruction. A syllable is a unit of oral or written language with one vowel sound. Instruction includes teaching of the six basic syllable types in the English language: closed, vowel-consonant-e, open, consonant-le, r-controlled, and vowel pair. Knowledge of syllable types is an important organizing idea. By knowing the syllable type, the reader can better determine the sound of the vowel in the syllable. Syllable division rules heighten the reader’s awareness of where a long, unfamiliar word may be divided for great accuracy in reading the word.
Morphology. A morpheme is the smallest unit of meaning in the language. The Structured Literacy curriculum includes the study of base words, roots, prefixes, and suffixes. The word instructor, for example, is contains the root struct, which means to build, the prefix in, which means in or into, and the suffix or, which means one who. An instructor is one who builds knowledge in his or her students.
Syntax. Syntax is the set of principles that dictate the sequence and function of words in a sentence in order to convey meaning. This includes grammar, sentence variation, and the mechanics of language.
Semantics. Semantics is that aspect of language concerned with meaning. The curriculum (from the beginning) must include instruction in the comprehension of written language.
Q: What Does a Structured Literacy Intervention Look Like?
Effective multisensory instruction is based on the following key principles:
Simultaneous, Multisensory (VAKT):
Teaching uses all learning pathways in the brain (i.e., visual, auditory, kinesthetic-tactile) simultaneously or sequentially in order to enhance memory and learning.
Systematic and Cumulative:
Multisensory language instruction requires that the organization of material follows the logical order of the language. The sequence must begin with the easiest and most basic concepts and progress methodically to more difficult material. Each concept must also be based on those already learned. Concepts taught must be systematically reviewed to strengthen memory.
The inferential learning of any concept cannot be taken for granted. Multisensory language instruction requires direct teaching of all concepts with continuous student-teacher interaction.
The teacher must be adept at flexible or individualized teaching. The teaching plan is based on careful and continuous assessment of the individual’s needs. The content presented must be mastered step by step for the student to progress.
Synthetic and Analytic Instruction:
Multisensory, structured language programs include both synthetic and analytic instruction. Synthetic instruction presents the parts of the language and then teaches how the parts work together to form a whole. Analytic instruction presents the whole and teaches how this can be broken down into its component parts.
Comprehensive and Inclusive:
All levels of language are addressed, often in parallel, including:
The Orton-Gillingham Approach
Orton-Gillingham is an instructional approach intended primarily for use with persons who have difficulty with reading, spelling, and writing due to the language-learning difference called dyslexia. It is important to think of Orton-Gillingham as an approach, not a method, program, system, or technique. The approach is structured and sequential yet flexible and dynamic, cumulative, and phonetically based. It is diagnostic, prescriptive, and cognitive, designed for a particular individual at a specific point in his or her learning. An emphasis on step-by-step skill development is essential to ensure both early success and lasting results. This approach is effective with students of all ages (elementary through adult) and can be applied in one-on-one, small group, or classroom settings.
The curriculum and instructional practices of the Orton-Gillingham approach reflect time-tested knowledge and practice, developed and validated over the past 70 years. The approach is also based on scientific evidence about how people learn to read and write and why a significant number have difficulty developing these skills. The Orton-Gillingham approach considers how having dyslexia makes achieving literacy skills more difficult and which instructional practices are best suited for teaching people with dyslexia or other language-learning differences.
The Orton-Gillingham approach is the result of collaboration among a remarkable team of pioneers. From the earliest days, Dr. Samuel Torrey Orton, a neuropsychiatrist and an extraordinary visionary, realized that a multidisciplinary approach would be essential to the diagnosis and treatment of dyslexia. Thus, Dr. Orton worked closely with Anna Gillingham, a gifted psychologist and educator, to develop the foundation for student instruction and teacher training that became known as the Orton-Gillingham approach.
Also notable among important contributors during the early decades of the approach were Bessie Stillman, a master teacher; June Lyday Orton, a dedicated social worker; and Dr. Paul Dozier, a noted psychiatrist. Somewhat later, Margaret Byrd Rawson and Roger Saunders wrote the following explanation, emphasizing the multidisciplinary nature of the approach:
The Orton-Gillingham approach requires an understanding of the nature of human language and of the language-learning processes in individuals. The approach is also rooted in knowledge of cognitive psychology and the structure of the human brain, which points to the logic of a multisensory approach to teaching language. In multisensory teaching, auditory, visual, and kinesthetic processes reinforce one another for optimal learning. Involvement of multiple senses provides flexibility for integrating the strengths and weaknesses of individual learning differences. Practitioners of the Orton-Gillingham approach teach with the understanding that those with dyslexia are thinking, learning individuals with uniquely configured nervous systems.3
The Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators
The Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators is the only organization expressly established and authorized to set standards for the practice of the Orton-Gillingham approach, to certify teachers, and to accredit instructional programs that meet these standards. The Academy also sponsors and promotes research relevant to Orton-Gillingham instruction, disseminates the results of such research to professional educators and to the public at large, and promotes public awareness of the needs of children and adults with dyslexia and of the Orton-Gillingham approach.
Source: Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators Web site.