Archive for the ‘Dyslexia Blog’ Category

Journey Into Dyslexia

Posted by Jennifer on January 30, 2012  |   No Comments »

I highly recommend HBO’s ‘Journey Into Dyslexia’. It interviewed scientists, professors, children with dyslexia and adults with dyslexia. Hearing them articulate their story was moving. Many viewed their dyslexia as a curse when they were younger in school. Some had suicide plans. Many had teachers who singled them out as failures to the rest of the class. They hated being different and not fitting into ‘the box’. However, as adults, they’ve come to realize that different isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just different. Their dyslexia helped them to create and accomplish all that they have. Many now see it as a gift. Jonathan Mooney, author and public speaker shares more about this important film.


Early Symptoms of Dyslexia

Posted by Jennifer on November 10, 2010  |   No Comments »

Many parents wonder if their child may have a learning disability when they are in preschool. There are some symptoms that you can look for before children begin learning to read. These include:

  • Delayed speech (not speaking any words by the child’s first birthday. Often, they don’t start talking until they are two, two-and-a-half, three, or even older.)
  • Mixing up sounds in multi-syllabic words (ex: aminal for animal, bisghetti for spaghetti, hekalopter for helicopter, hangaberg for hamberger, mazageen for magazine, etc.)
  • Early stuttering
  • Lots of ear infections
  • Can’t master tying shoes
  • Confusion over left versus right, over versus under, before versus after, and other directionality words and concepts.
  • Late to establish a dominant hand
    • May switch from right hand to left hand while coloring, writing, or doing any other task. Eventually, the child will usually establish a preferred hand, but it may not be until they are 7 or 8. Even then, they may use one hand for writing, but the other hand for sports.
  • Inability to correctly complete phonemic awareness task.
  • Despite listening to stories that contain lots of rhyming words, such as Dr. Seuss, cannot tell you words that rhyme with cat or seat by the age of four-and-a-half.
  • Difficulty learning the names of the letters or sounds in the alphabet; difficulty writing the alphabet in order.
  • Trouble correctly articulating R’s and L’s as well as M’s and N’s. They often have “immature” speech. They may still be saying “wed and gween” instead of “red and green” in second or third grade.

If three of more of these warning signs exist, especially if there is dyslexia or AD/HD in the family tree, the child should be tested for dyslexia when the child becomes five years old. Also, phonemic awareness games and other reading readiness activities should be done daily during the preschool years.

I hope this information helps you in your journey to gather more information on how to best help your child. Feel free to contact me with any further questions. You can also find out about the services I offer at

Learning Disabilities, Dyslexia, and Vision

Posted by Jennifer on November 10, 2010  |   No Comments »

Vision Therapy is a topic that I get many questions about from parents. What is vision therapy? Is it necessary? Will it help my child? From a financial standpoint, should I invest time and money in vision therapy or reading remediation?

Continue Reading…

Orton-Gillingham Approach to reading instruction

Posted by Jennifer on October 11, 2010  |   No Comments »

The Orton-Gillingham Approach to reading instruction is based on the work of Dr. Samuel T. Orton and was developed into a remedial program manual by Anna Gillingham. This approach is considered the first of its kind to implement and popularize the multisensory, Visual-Auditory-Kinesthetic (VAK) approach to teaching students with dyslexia to read.

Principles of Instruction

  • Diagnostic and prescriptive
  • Language-based
  • Systematic, sequential, cumulative but flexible
  • Cognitive
  • Direct and explicit instruction
  • Multisensory
  • Emotionally sound

Since the inception and refinement of the Orton-Gillingham Approach in the 1920s and 30s, many programs have been developed using these principles. These include:

  • Slingerland
  • Project Read
  • Recipe for Reading
  • Language!
  • The Writing Road to Reading
  • S.P.I.R.E.
  • Dyslexia Training Program
  • Alphabetic Phonics
  • Wilson Reading System

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Orton-Gillingham Approach


  • Comprehensive and thorough training of practitioners to control for fidelity of implementation.
  • Explicit and systematic instruction for students with severe reading disabilities.
  • Clearly delineated scope and sequence.


  • Teacher intensive daily planning for creating student specific lessons.

Training to be a Dyslexia Tutor

At the Academy of Orton-Gillingham, there are four levels of training: Subscriber, Associate, Certified, and Fellow. Learn more at

Florida Center for Reading Research,

Myths About Dyslexia

Posted by Jennifer on July 6, 2010  |   No Comments »

Myth: Dyslexia can be cured by completing a program or taking medication.

Fact: Individuals are born with dyslexia, it cannot be cured. However with proper instruction and hard work, individuals with dyslexia can lead successful and productive lives.

Myth: Dyslexia effects primarily boys.

Fact: Although more boys are formally tested for dyslexia, it effects boys and girls equally.

Myth: Dyslexia is a vision problem.

Fact: Eye defects, subtle or severe, do not cause an individual to experience reversal of letters, words, or numbers. Vision therapy and other controversial methods of treatment may give parents and teachers a false sense of security that a child’s reading difficulties are being addressed. This may delay proper instruction or remediation. (A statement made by the American Academy of Ophthalmology).

Myth: You can outgrow dyslexia.

Fact: Individuals with dyslexia can lean how to read and spell words with more accuracy. However, you cannot outgrow dyslexia. Symptoms may become more pronounced when individuals become ill or tired.

Myth: The hallmark of dyslexia is writing letters and numbers backwards (reversals)

Fact: The core deficit of dyslexia is difficulty in phonemic awareness, the ability to manipulate individual sounds in spoken words. Some people with dyslexia reverse letter and/or numbers but not all. Memorizing whole words by sight is also difficult however some bright children are able to do this.

Myth: Dyslexia is related to intelligence

Fact: Individuals with dyslexia have an average or above average IQ. People all over the world have dyslexia, it is a neurological condition that is genetic in nature and does not discriminate in regards to intelligence, economic status, race or gender.

Read the case study below on a boy named Adam and see if you notice some of these characteristics in your own child. (This is one of many case studies compiled by Anna Gillingham and Bessie Stillman, 1997 p. 5.)

“Adam’s parents were intrigued by their son’s early ability to construct intricate structures with blocks, milk cartons, and other materials. He was artistically talented as well as very verbal. They were convinced that they had a gifted child, whose joyful disposition brought them much pleasure.

When Adam entered school, he did not progress as rapidly as his peers. He had significant difficulty with letter recognition and handwriting. Eventually, with much effort, he did learn to read, but his ability to recognize sight words was weak. His written communication was labored and sentences were illegible at times, either because of bizarre spelling errors of poor handwriting. He moved on through the remaining grades with a very insecure feeling about himself as a learner. He knew that he was good at mathematics and was the first one chosen in gym when it came to team sports. He also knew that his teachers were always after him about messy papers, missed assignments, and unorganized notebooks. He frequently participated in class discussions and surprised teachers with his insightful comments and his ability to retain information. However, he continued to fail written examinations and did not complete assignments; consequently, Adam was failing many of his classed.

Finally, it became clear to Adam, his parents and his teachers that Adam was indeed a gifted boy. Psychological testing revealed that he had a superior IQ of 130. By reviewing the wide discrepancies between his strengths and weaknesses, the psychologist was able to explain why Adam struggled with some academic tasks, yet excelled at others. The psychologist thought this information would help alleviate the frustration everyone felt about Adam’s academic difficulties. He also hoped that Adam would begin to perceive himself as a capable person, despite being challenged by certain tasks. The boy was told that appropriate techniques could help address the skills with which he had trouble.

An educational plan was developed to try to meet his academic needs, which included daily remedial training sessions in handwriting, spelling, and organizational skills for written work (using a computer)”.

Read Aloud Dos and Dont’s

Posted by Jennifer on July 6, 2010  |   No Comments »

The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease

Excerpt from The Read-Aloud Handboook, by Jim Trelease.

Another great resource that is a bit easier to read, is Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever, by Mem Fox.


Begin reading to children as soon as possible.

  • Set aside at least one time each day for a story.
  • As you read, keep your child involved by asking, “What do you think is going to happen next?”
  • To encourage involvement, invite your child to turn the pages for you.
  • Use plenty of expression when reading. If possible, change your tone of voice to fit the dialogue.
  • Read slowly enough for your child to build mental pictures of what he or she  just heard you read.
  • When children read to you, it is better for the book to be too easy than too hard.
  • Allow time for discussion after reading a story. Thoughts, hopes, fears, and discoveries after reading a story.
  • Remember that reading aloud comes naturally to very few people. To do it successfully and with ease you must practice.



Don’t read stories that you don’t enjoy yourself. Your dislike will show in the reading and that defeats your purpose.

  • Don’t continue reading a book once it is obvious that it was a poor choice. Make sure, however, that you’ve given the book a fair chance to get rolling.
  • Don’t be unnerved by questions during reading, particularly from very young children. There is no time limit for reading a book, but there is a time limit on a child’s inquisitiveness.
  • Don’t try to compete with television. If you say, “Which do you want, a story or TV? They will usually choose the latter. That is like saying to a nine-year-old, “Which do you want, vegetables or a donut?” You choose.
  • Don’t use the book as a threat. (“If you don’t pick up your room, no story tonight!”). As soon as your child sees that you’ve turned the book into a weapon, they’ll change their attitude about books from a positive to a negative.

What is reading fluency?

Posted by Jennifer on July 5, 2010  |   No Comments »

Has your child’s teacher said that your child’s reading fluency is low? What does this mean? The definition of reading fluency is the ability to read text accurately and quickly. That means that they don’t skip words or read words incorrectly. Part of fluency is also reading with expression.

Many children get stuck on words and pause frequently. Others read word by word instead of in longer phrases. Do you notice your child doing this? If your child reads word by word, then they are focusing all of their attention on figuring out each individual word. They have no room left to understand what they have read. Therefore, low reading fluency can affect comprehension, or the ability to understand what was read.

How can I help my child who reads slowly or reads words incorrectly?

  • There is a strong connection between reading ability and how much a person reads. Encourage your child to read each day.
  • Showing your child what quick and accurate reading sounds like is better than having your child reread a book on their own. After you read a sentence or paragraph out loud to them, then let them try it on their own.
  • To develop reading fluency it’s better if your child reads a book that is relatively easy.

Activities for successful reading practice:

  • Ask if you can get a recording of a new book your child is asked to read at school.
  • At first, let your child listen and follow along with his or her finger.
  • Then encourage your child to read along with the recording.
  • Repeat this step until your child feels more comfortable with the text.
  • Finally, let your child read the book without the recording.

Are you having difficulty finding books that are at your child’s reading level? Contact us for a book list at . This book list will give you many book titles that are appropriate for your child’s reading level.

Arguments For Teaching Cursive

Posted by Jennifer on July 5, 2010  |   2 Comments »

In most schools, cursive writing is taught in the third grade. Children often revert to writing in print unless their teachers in subsequent grades insist on cursive. By the fifth grade most children have reverted to print. So what are the benefits of learning cursive? Actually, there are numerous benefits especially for people with dyslexia.

As Diana Hanbury King writes in Writing Skills for the Adolescent, “In the case of dyslexics, there are several reasons for insisting on cursive. To begin with, in cursive writing, there is no question as to where each letter begins – it begins on the line. The confusion with forms is not merely a left and right reversal as with b/d and p/q; it is also an up down reversal as with m/w and u/n; hence the uncertainty as to whether a letter begins at the top or the bottom. Second, spelling is fixed more firmly in the mind if the word is formed in a continuous movement rather than a series of separate strokes with the pencil lifted off the paper between each one”.

In summation, the argument for using cursive writing for all students, but especially students with dyslexia is as follows:

  • Cuts down on reversals (cursive b/d, m/w, p/q etc.)
  • Letter formation and spelling are better reinforced
  • Cursive writing is faster than print writing
  • Establishes word boundaries