Here are the top 10 school frustrations we hear from families with dyslexic children.
Have you experienced these frustrations with your struggling reader? If so, share this post to let other parents know that they’re not alone.
What is Dyslexia?
The International Dyslexia Association and National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) define dyslexia as “a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities.” In essence, dyslexia is a neurological condition causing difficulty reading, writing and spelling words.
What is Dysgraphia?
Dysgraphia is another language-literacy disability that can be diagnosed and treated. Dysgraphia is a Greek term that means, literally, difficulty (dys) writing(graph), dysgraphia pertains mainly to writing by hand (as opposed to keyboarding).
Some signs of dyslexia
- Learning to speak
- Learning letters and their sounds
- Blending sounds to make words
- Organizing written and spoken language
- Reading quickly enough to comprehend
- Persisting with and comprehending longer reading assignments
- Learning a foreign language
Some signs of dysgraphia
- Unsure of right or left handedness
- Poor or slow handwriting
- Messy and unorganized papers
- Difficulty copying
- Poor fine motor skills
What is the Connection Between Dyslexia and Dysgraphia?
Dysgraphia is often related to other problems such as difficulty with spelling and written expression, dyslexia and even oral expression. Since handwriting skills require memory for the movement path for each letter as well as for how letters connect, children with working memory and/or attention deficits can have difficulty mastering handwriting skills. Dyslexia and dysgraphia can overlap because they are both neurological language disorders. In addition, both disorders make it difficult to convert phonemes (sounds) into graphemes (letters in written form). Both language disorders can occur by themselves or in conjunction with other difficulties.
Treating Dysgraphia and/or Dyslexia:
Dyslexia and dysgraphia are often genetic and, while they cannot be “cured” they can both be treated using methods that resonate with the different way dyslexics and dysgraphics learn.
The International Dyslexia Association suggests that “Instruction for individuals with learning differences should be:
- Explicit – directly teaches skills for reading, spelling, and writing
- Systematic and Cumulative – has a definite, logical sequence of concept introduction
- Structured – has step-by-step procedures for introducing, reviewing, and practicing concepts
- Multisensory – engages the visual, auditory, and kinesthetic channels simultaneously or in rapid succession” (International Dyslexia Association, 2014).
Lexercise’s Structured Literacy and Chancery Script curricula follow these guidelines and are used to help dyslexics and dysgraphics meet their academic potential. If you think your child may be dyslexic or dysgraphic and want to get them the right type of help that they need please call us at 1-888-603-1788 or take our free dyslexia screener here.
“Effective Reading Instruction.” International Dyslexia Association. N.p., 31 Oct. 2014. Web. 13 Aug. 2015. <http://eida.org/effective-reading-instruction/>.
Moats, Louisa C. Ed.D, and Karen E. Dakin, M.Ed. “Dyslexia Basics.” International Dyslexia Association. N.p., 15 Dec. 2014. Web. 13 Aug. 2015. <http://eida.org/dyslexia-basics/>.
Practice Makes Perfect
We’ve all heard the saying “practice makes perfect”, and in life we’ve all seen it’s truth. Neuroscience confirms that regular practice is a crucial component in learning a new skill. Lexercise uses online daily games and table-top activities to reinforce and master skills taught by a child’s clinical educator during their weekly 1 to 1 sessions.
By the time the majority of our students have started working with Lexercise they have experienced great obstacles and frustration in learning how to read. This can lead children to believe that their efforts are hopeless or that they aren’t smart, since their prior work did not give them the results they wanted. Lexercise Clinicians work with parents to re-motivate their child using our unique approach to practice, a critical components in learning how to read and write. Here are a few tips we’ve found in making ongoing practice more successful:
Explain to your child why practice is important
Look at this as brain training, NOT homework! First, the Lexercise program looks and feels different. We are not telling your child to read more, longer, faster…. this won’t work for a child with a language-based learning disability. The Structured Literacy method we use emphasizes mastery of skills where lessons AND practice are delivered systemically and intensively. This approach has been tested by the National Institutes for Health and is proven to work. What we are doing through our explicit instruction and practice is making connections in our brain’s language and literacy centers that were not as activated before. To “rewire” the brain, it takes a lot of deliberate practice, approximately 100 response challenges per day. Our customized online games and table-top activities give a child more than 100 response challenges a day.
Set a goal for daily/weekly practice- Plan for smaller more frequent practice!
Working with your child to set clear goals and expectations for practice help get their “buy in” since they are involved in the process. By setting goals you and your child can work as a team to accomplish the goal, while modeling a very important skill, having a growth mindset. Working towards a jointly-set goal shifts the child’s thinking to a growth mindset where s/he thinks “I am going to practice so I can reach my practice goal which will help me become a stronger reader and writer,” instead of “Someone is making me do this.” Tracking practice using an incentive chart can help the child see his/her progress towards their goal. Plan for shorter, more frequent sessions (minimum of 4 times per week), versus longer sessions. This helps a child maintain attention, and get in the optimal “learning zone” (70%-90% accuracy).
Create a set time and space for practice to occur
Having a routine helps practice become a habit! Decide what time during the week works best for your child and family. Communicate this to everyone in the family so they are aware and can be supportive. It is important that there be a dedicated space for practice that is conducive to learning (quiet and distraction-free). Also, by having others know this set time, they can help give gentle reminders that it’s practice time when needed. It is also a good idea to figure out a system for table-top activities the parent leads. When will this occur? Who in the family will do the activities? Planning in advance for practice helps to make sure that it becomes a habit.
Immediately following practice, let the child do a preferred activity
Having a child complete practice first –before a preferred activity– gives a natural incentive. This could be before something that is regular occurrence such as: a meal, playing outside with friends, etc. Using a “first-then” statement can be helpful when communicating this. For example: “First complete your Lexercise games and 5 minutes of Whiteboard Spelling, then you can go outside and play with your friends.” It is important that immediately after the “first” task is completed they earn their preferred “then” activity. For younger students having a visual and setting a time can help to communicate these expectations.
Motivate your child during practice
Verbal praise and specific error correction goes a long way! Motivating with the end goal in mind is always helpful; we want to get to the point where your child is able to read and write with proficiency. Giving specific praise and feedback, helps them understand what it takes to train their brain to get there! When you see your child using the strategies taught in the session let them know by being very specific about what you saw (e.g. “I noticed when you got to that longer word, you broke the word down by its syllable type which made it more manageable.”). This reinforces the fact that looking at the structure of the word is more reliable than guessing. When a mistake is made, it is also important to give specific error correction so that they understand exactly why something is incorrect. During your weekly sessions your clinician will teach you exactly how to do this. Remember, verbal praise and specific and immediate feedback goes a long way!
Motivate your child after practice
Make time to review and celebrate the progress your child makes! It is so very important to celebrate your child’s success however large or small it may seem. Each portion of the deliberate practice we assign is one more step towards the goal of becoming and independent lifelong reader and writer. During our sessions you’ll see your clinician give online high-fives, count points for sentence dictation, and more! Our online game practice also tracks progress, through point goals. Each time a child plays they are able to see that progress is being made by watching their points increase. This point system is a means of encouraging repeated practice, with an emphasis on having an increase in accuracy and response time. You also may want to build in a specific individual motivation for your child. It could be a sticker chart for practicing games, rewards for reaching a point goal, etc.
Lexercise clinicians strive to help make each child’s practice as productive as possible. The best incentive to practice is when a child sees the progress he or she is making. This most often occurs when a child feels confident with their newly developed skills to pick up a book and read (without being told to!). Moments like that show us that all of the hard work and practice really is worthwhile.
Other Helpful Articles:
Why This Meme Shouldn’t Bother You:
One day, a bit more than a month after we’d started therapy, I noticed that one of my clients started coming to our sessions very tired. When I asked her mother she explained that the girl was up all night, reading under the covers, with her recorded books. This girl, who previously had wanted nothing to do with books and was falling behind in her vocabulary, now considered herself a reader. This, I thought is what every parent wants (even though my own had complained much about my own late night reading habits, I know they were secretly proud of me!) This is an example of a successful accommodation.
Reading accommodations allow students to access the knowledge and information that is available to their peers, despite their challenges with reading. They allow students to express themselves and share their stories without anxiety about spelling or handwriting. Accommodations are about access. For a student with mobility impairment, it may look like a ramp instead of stairs, allowing access to the same school other students attend. For a student with dyslexia it comes in the form of a dictation software, or speech to text, or recorded text among others. I am so glad that the technology of our present day has made these accommodations not only easy to access, but is constantly improving their quality!
However, accommodations alone are not the best solutions for many children. While this girl was enjoying and benefiting from her accommodations, we were relentless in our pursuit of improving her reading. Research tells us that the optimal age to learn to read is before the age of twelve. So, even though schools in the United States switch from “learning to read” to focusing on “reading to learn” when children are eight to nine years old, students that age who are behind can still make rapid progress!
And improving literacy skills beyond the age of twelve is still very possible! Research based, structured literacy instruction has proven effective with people of all ages and is even used in adult education programs.
I’ve seen this meme on social media so many times:
“A child who reads will be an adult who thinks”
And I understand why parents and educators would have a strong response to it. Reading is not the only way to learn. Students who struggle with eye reading can still do amazing work reading. But I still believe that reading should be the goal. While students are learning to read and write, or if their best efforts at reading and writing still leave them falling short of their potential, accommodations are vital in bridging the gap.
But those accommodations will not teach a child to read or write. Contact us to begin the literacy instruction that will.
Photo Curtesy of EmilysQuotes ©
Annie E. Casey’s Kids Count annual report was released last week. Among other things, the report looks at reading proficiency in fourth graders. This report found “an alarming 66 percent of fourth graders in public school were reading below the proficient level in 2013”, with wide variation in public school students’ reading proficiency from state-to-state.
Americans are swamped with data about education, health and well-being, so it is easy to ignore. Why should parents care that two-thirds of 4th grade public school students in the USA don’t read proficiently? Does this really mean anything for their child’s future? It could because proficient reading is a very big part of the ticket to adult prosperity.
Research released in 2012 by the Brookings Institution suggests a connection between prosperity and reading. Children whose “benchmarks for success”, including reading skills, are “off track” in elementary school have a much lower chance of earning at least middle class income by the time they reach middle age. Slate.com put it this way: “Fourth grade is considered a crucial benchmark for reading, because by that age kids are mostly done with formal reading instruction and have moved on to using their reading skills to master other subjects. But if, like two-thirds of American kids, they are lacking in such skills, they are unlikely ever to catch up. ”
The Brookings Institution suggests there is a role for both public and the private responsibilities in helping children reach middle class prosperity. Parents are used to thinking of reading as the school’s job. But, given the situation described above, parents may want to exercise some “private responsibility” if their child continues to struggle with reading.
According to Planet Money, families in the USA spend about 5% of their income on entertainment and 1.5% on education. Flipping those priorities for just a few months to fund a semester of structured literacy intervention could make all the difference in a child’s chances of prosperity.
Parents study many dyslexia intervention options when they realize their child is falling behind in reading and writing, but they may not realize that online Orton-Gillingham therapy is an option. Now, online Orton-Gillingham therapy (the new term for this is Structured Literacy) may sound too good to be true but Lexercise has made it possible! Now you can receive the same level of clinical therapy that you would get in an office in the comfort of your home.
Benefits of Orton-Gillingham Online:
Orton-Gillingham is a complex approach consisting multiple components all of which are included in Lexercise’s online Orton-Gillingham therapy program. By providing Orton-Gillingham therapy online Lexercise gives you added benefits!
Firstly, online therapy is extremely convenient. We have clients and clinicians alike all over the world that are able to connect due to our online nature. What was once a 2-3 hour commitment of traveling to and from an office is now just an hour in your own home! Scheduling conflicts are diminished as well. Let’s say you live in New York and can only participate in therapy after work at 7:00 pm, well we can match you with a clinician in California who is available at that time! You can even keep participating in therapy when you’re traveling, as long as you have an internet connection. It’s our goal to get you and your child the help you need in the most efficient and convenient way possible.
The Lexercise program has parents actively participate in their child’s Orton-Gillingham therapy. During your live, weekly online therapy sessions, you will sit behind your child and listen and observe to learn the lessons and techniques yourself. Using what you have learned you will be able to instruct your child throughout the week to help them master each level of therapy and complete their weekly practice activities. The hands-on parent role that Lexercise facilitates is one of our therapy’s key benefits.
Daily practice is very important to reinforce and master the lessons learned in therapy. Lexercise has created online Orton-Gillingham daily practice games that make this fun and engaging for your child. With only 15 minutes of practice every day at least 4 days a week your child can advance through therapy at a fast pace, automating skills they will retain for a lifetime of use.
A child who falls behind in 1st grade has a 1 in 8 chance of ever catching up. We urge families who are noticing their child falling behind to start Orton-Gillingham therapy immediately and not wait. Luckily, because of our large pool of qualified clinicians and online platform, you can start at your earliest convenience. We don’t require you to have a formal dyslexia diagnosis to participate in therapy. Our goal is the help your child get the help they need as soon as possible and as conveniently as we can.
Lexercise is the most efficient and beneficial form of receiving Orton-Gillingham therapy. But don’t just take our word for it, hear what other parents are saying:
Latest Research Shows How the Brain Learns Reading
The latest study in brain research gives greater understanding to how the brain responds to reading instruction. Stanford University Professor Bruce McCandliss and other colleagues from Texas and New York, used two different approaches to teach subjects a pretend language, simulating how a beginning reader would encounter novel words. The first instructional approach tried in this study was similar to the Structured Literacy method of instruction based on sound-letter patterns, the second was memorization, similar to the Whole Language approach to reading. The initial findings on how teaching methods impact the brain are:
Optimal activation in the brain occurs when instruction focused on the word’s structure/ reading the word phonetically (similar to Structured Literacy Approach).
Learning to decode through explicit instruction in sound-letter patterns activates areas the left hemisphere of the brain. The left side of the brain, is the center for language which is wired for reading and an area that shows high activity in proficient/skilled readers.
Whole word memorization, showed inefficient/less optimal brain activation, when used as a strategy to learn a new word (similar to Whole Language Approach).
Reading words through memorization, shows more activity in the brain’s right hemisphere. This pattern is consistent with struggling readers. Learning to read words by memorization did not show optimal brain activity.
Learning to read by sound-letter associations, positively impacts future reading of novel words.
Breaking down a word into individual phonemes (sounds), not only helps a child to figure out the word initially, but is shown to impact the future reading success of the word as well. Having tools to decode words is a transferable skill.
The method and delivery of phonics instruction should be intentional.
Not all phonics instruction is equal! The research shows the importance of intentionally directing the learner’s attention to the sound-letter pattern.
The Structured Literacy approach addresses all of the components that research shows is most effective in learning how to read! Working with professionals who have experience and are trained in Structured Literacy approach, can help your child become a proficient reader. Learn how Lexercise uses Structured Literacy to strengthen the brain and give your child a free dyslexia screener HERE!
Higgins, J. (2015, June 5). New brain study sheds light on how best to teach reading. Retrieved July 15, 2015, from http://www.seattletimes.com/education-lab/how-students-are-taught-affects-reading-efficiency-new-brain-study-finds/?utm_source=email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=article_title
Wong, M. (2015, May 28). Stanford study on brain waves shows how different teaching methods affect reading development. Retrieved July 15, 2015, from http://news.stanford.edu/news/2015/may/reading-brain-phonics-052815.html
A recently published study examined identification of students with learning disabilities in Florida schools. The authors were exploring why more boys than girls are identified with learning disabilities. They tried to determine whether it is because girls are less likely to be referred for evaluation or because boys are actually more likely to have a learning disability. The study examined over 400,000 students and tested all for reading and vocabulary to determine how many of them were actually reading-impaired. That number was then used to calculate whether more boys than girls were, in reality, reading impaired (they were) and determine whether the schools’ identification of more boys than girls with reading disability was out of line (it wasn’t).
The study’s other findings however included something far more interesting to parents than gender ratio. Approximately 20% of the students tested were identified as reading-impaired by the researchers. The school had identified very few of these students. In fact, only 1 out of 4 boys and 1 out of 7 girls who the researchers identified as reading-impaired had been identified by the schools as being learning disabled. That means the school was catching less than 20% of its impaired readers!
The author suggests that this may be because schools lack a consistent definition of learning disability and still rely heavily on the IQ-achievement discrepancy model for identification. That may well be the case. I sincerely hope that research will continue to explore how and why public schools miss so many of our struggling readers so that these system can be improved.
But I am a therapist, and a teacher. While I long to see improvement in the public system, I firmly believe that the children currently in the system cannot wait. Even if public schools helped reading and writing impaired kids achieve grade-level literacy (which is often not the case), far too many students never qualify to receive those services!
If you suspect your child has dyslexia, don’t wait for your school to meet his or her needs. Chances are, they won’t or can’t. Take our free online dyslexia test and contact us to begin individualized reading instruction for your child!
The Lexercise 4-Week Assessment
Our treatment is unique in its three-way partnership among you, your child, and your clinician.
By working one-on-one with your student as you look on, we are able to focus on your child’s specific needs. Your clinician will begin with an initial assessment to understand your child’s learning profile and placement level. Your child’s progress will be monitored during every weekly session. Additionally, progress is also tracked during your child’s daily practice, which includes customized computer games and table-top activities. After the four weeks of online therapy, your clinician will learn these 10 things about your child:
- Speech sound – letter symbol knowledge — How your child understands the relationship between speech sounds and written symbols, and with what accuracy your child can relate speech sounds to letter symbols.
- Sounding out and spelling words — What your child needs to learn to sound out new words and remember how to spell them. (Very few “reading strategies” used in schools are supported by research and some, like guessing, are bad for your child. We want to teach your child to use only those strategies that are proven to work.)
- Word parts and vocabulary — What your child needs to learn about how parts of words fit together to make meaning (e.g., The base port, meaning “to carry”, is in the words import, export, report, important, portable, transport).
- Memory — How to best support your child’s memory to make reading, spelling, and writing more accurate and effortless. (Word structures are taught explicitly and systematically, with multisensory techniques, to make them more memorable.)
- Handwriting — How your child’s handwriting might be affecting his/her spelling and writing products. If handwriting instruction is needed your clinician will integrate it in to the instructional plan.
- Attention –– How effectively your child’s attention skills support reading, spelling and writing skill development, and what methods work best to support and strengthen his/her attention.
- Practice and errors –– Understanding your child’s beliefs about errors and the role of practice. Your clinician will work to grow your child’s view that errors are opportunities to learn and that practice is the key to achievement.
- Motivation & interest in words — The most effective ways to stimulate your child’s interest in words, what they mean and how they are spelled. How to inspire ambitious goals for reading and writing.
- Anxiety & stress management — For children struggling with excessive stress and anxiety, how your child responds to methods that have been proven to reduce stress and anxiety and improve focus.
- Immediate academic progress — The most important immediate priorities for your child’s academic progress, and how you can provide support at home.
It is our goal to communicate all of these points over the first 4 weeks, structuring our time so that your child progresses as far and fast as possible.
So you have a passion for linguistics and want to help children with dyslexia? Great! In order to become a Lexercise Clinician you will need to have thorough training in the structured literacy (a.k.a. Orton-Gillingham) approach. You can become a Lexercise Clinician in one of two ways:
1. You can take a qualification test to demonstrate your knowledge and skills in structured literacy.
2. You can take our online professional education courses.
So there are a couple roads you can take to become a Lexercise Clinician. Lets explore them further:
If you are an expert in structured literacy and are well-trained in the Orton Gillingham methodology you may be interested in taking the Qualification Test. This test will determine if you have the knowledge and skills needed to deliver structured literacy therapy. The test questions are in two categories: The structure of written English and principles of multi-sensory, structured literacy therapy.
Now maybe you have mastered the structure of written English, but you’re not too sure about muli-sensory, structured literacy intervention methods. There is an option for you! You can opt to take the Course 1 Test Out to bypass the structure of written English course and move straight to Course 2 to learn more about multi-sensory structured literacy intervention methods.
This course is a detailed tour of the interwoven, micro-structure of written English, from speech to print. Participants will learn how to apply linguistic analysis in five language domains:
(1) phonetics & phonology
(5) semantics & discourse
This course is designed as an introduction to the knowledge and skills needed to apply a structured literacy (a.k.a. Orton-Gillingham) approach to intervention with students who have language processing weaknesses. Participants will learn a variety of structured literacy principles and instructional routines and will have opportunities to practice their application.
- Each course is 30 hours of professional development.
- Courses can be used for ASHA CEU credit
- Courses can be completed at your own pace, from anywhere.
- Learn the structured literacy (Orton-Gillingham) methodology from experts
There are even options for those of you who have not had experience working with individual students and need a practicum! You can take our 2 professional education courses and then take Course 3: clinical practicum.
No matter your current level of expertise in the area of reading and writing disorders you can gain the skills you need and become a structured literacy expert.
Special thanks to Marie Lunney for her writing consultation on this post.