Dyslexia need not stymie children’s learning

Multi-sensory learning for literacy challenges

PROVIDENCE – Many children who experience difficulty acquiring literacy skills such as reading, spelling, and writing are diagnosed with dyslexia.

Overcoming dyslexia is the subject of numerous studies, but included in that massive body of collected works is groundbreaking neuro-scientific proof-positive that dyslexic brains can – and do – learn strategies necessary for language and literacy proficiency. The Orton-Gillingham instructional approach has proven highly successful with dyslexic children.

The key to effectively teaching a dyslexic student is by using all of the student’s learning and sensory pathways. Multi-sensory teaching involves engaging these pathways – sight, sound, touch and movement – that are often under-used or completely ignored in traditional classroom environments.

The premise is right out of “Teaching 101”: Communicate content in the most understandable way for the student. The dyslexic child is most responsive to multi-sensory learning because the “usual” language-learning pathways are unavailable.

Dyslexic students must get across the great divide – they will uncover alternate routes; they will channel the same information other students learn, but in a different way – perhaps through textured surfaces, finger paint gel (tactile writing), air writing (motion), magnets (visual and tactile), etc.

As a certified Orton-Gillingham tutor, I provide dyslexic children with an individualized tutoring experience. Every child’s experience begins with an assessment fol-lowed by lesson plans based on the initial, and subsequent, diagnostic results. Every session begins with a review of previously learned concepts, including specific examples to demonstrate the degree to which that concept has been retained and applied to a task. The second part is new material followed by examples of how the new concept is to be used along with many task performance examples to solidify the connections between concept and task. Reinforcement times eight is the key!

Embedded within each lesson section are short, but important, reading opportunities, with a segment dedicated to only reading before ending every session. Additional time for the final reading segment is always provided.

Over time, using methods learned with the Orton-Gillingham approach, dyslexic students can become successful readers, spellers and writers.

Diana Thibault (ogtutor121@gmail.com), a certified Orton-Gillingham tutor, lives in Providence.

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