Dyslexia Help and Advice from Expert Therapists - Lexercise

A Season of Gratitude

Here at Lexercise, we make a special effort to express gratitude. It takes just a moment to say Thank you, but the benefits can be long-lasting. As we move toward Thanksgiving, we want to extend our special thanks to the students, families, teachers, and Lexercise therapists and staff who have gone above and beyond in this year of less-than-ideal conditions.

For public school struggling readers who qualify, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is supposed to define the specialized instruction and services they need to thrive academically. Unfortunately, many struggling readers don’t qualify or are never identified and never get the help that could be life-changing. Recent research indicates that even for those who are identified, it takes more than a year, on average, for a student just to be provided with an IEP so they can begin to get services. Schools may be under-resourced, and teachers and even school psychologists unprepared to provide the full evaluation necessary to confirm a diagnosis. 

As parents see their children falling behind their peers and contending with issues of anxiety, anger, frustration, and low self-esteem, they search desperately for answers. Happily—for parents and students—that search often leads them to Lexercise. Whether or not their child has an IEP, others find their way to Lexercise through referrals from psychologists, pediatricians, teachers, reading interventionists, and other consultants. 

We know, and any Lexercise family will tell you, that success requires commitment on the part of the student, the parent, and the therapist. It requires time and patience. It means showing up again and again, even when you’re not certain of the outcome.

So THANK YOU: to all those who refer struggling readers to Lexercise, to the students who commit themselves to daily practice, to the parents who encourage and support them, to more than a hundred qualified Lexercise dyslexia therapists who help parents and under-resourced schools identify and treat their struggling readers, and to the small but mighty Lexercise staff, who continue to support the Lexercise vision and our science-backed methods.

We are not alone in our gratitude. Read (and watch) some of the heartwarming stories we have received from Lexercise families

We are grateful to each and every one of you and look forward to continuing our work together.

Stress Management 101

stress management 101

In a recent “Best of NPR” newsletter, Christopher Dean Hopkins writes about helping young students cope with unusual conditions as they return to school. He talks about mask use and alternate settings to closed classrooms, but also, very importantly, emphasizes the presence of stress “for kids as well as grownups.”

At Lexercise we often discuss stress and anxiety, as they are among the most common features of dyslexia. In The Vortex of Dyslexia, we share why these emotions are so prevalent among children with dyslexia and other language-processing disorders. October is Dyslexia Awareness Month so this is a good time to re-examine how struggling students can manage stress and anxiety, which are typically a result of feeling out of control.

At Lexercise, our priority is helping students get the effective intervention and treatment they need to succeed and to feel in control in school and in life. In our Lexercise blog posts, and in the daily work Lexercise therapists do with students, we frequently address the importance of combining comprehensive testing and evaluation, skilled professionals, and research-based treatment—in other words, best practices—to develop the level of reading proficiency required for academic success.

Long experience has demonstrated that fun can inspire students to practice, so Lexercise designed a set of practice games that offer valuable feedback as kids learn essential skills. Enlivened by the graphics of Lexercise Lead Artist Isabel Hennes (Iszzy), our games help to produce the “mental muscle memory” needed for proficient reading. 

But we know it’s not all fun and games. As Hopkins writes, when stress is “amped up” it can easily interfere with health, learning, and social interactions. So, among the colorful Lexercise games, we’ve added one called Calming Breath. A cuddly purple creature with wiggly ears demonstrates how to use the calming breath procedure to manage stress as the instructions guide the student (or parent!) through the exercise. Give it a try!

If you are stressed about your child’s skills with written or spoken words, we invite you to learn more about Lexercise therapy on our website or contact us today.

3 More Easy Ways to Overcome Learning Loss

mom helping child overcome learning loss on a laptop

Worried about learning loss in your child during this summer break? While it’s true that learning loss can affect all children who take an extended break from their studies and practices, there are ways you can help your child maintain and expand on what they’ve already learned.

In part one of this series, you read how you can engage your child with library programs, journaling, and even cooking. Now, in part two of the series you’ll discover:

3 More Easy Ways to Overcome Learning Loss This Summer

  1. Schedule a weekly family game night with games like Scrabble, Boggle, and Apples to Apples. Word games like these are especially effective in reinforcing and expanding your child’s reading skills.
  2. Host a family read-aloud session with popular books, or book series, where family members take turns reading. Even if your child doesn’t want to read aloud, they can still maintain and grow both their vocabulary and comprehension skills simply by listening to another family member reading.
  3. Explore areas of your child’s strengths and interests. If they’re interested in dinosaurs, you can take your child to a museum and see a dinosaur exhibit. Then checkout online resources on dinosaurs including drawings, videos, and articles. If their strengths include building things, help them choose one of the many new and advanced Lego toys. Got a budding artist? Read together about the many types of art supplies (water paint, oil paint, charcoal, colored pencils, etc.) and then help them shop for a new art set.

Summertime is a great time to engage in activities together. And with these activities, your child will maintain and expand on the knowledge they’ve previously learned and overcome learning loss in a fun and easy way.

Want a professional to help your child overcome learning loss? Check out our 8-week Summer Jolt

Putting the Fun in Fundamental

Dyslexia game image of letter formation

Games are a vital learning tool in the Lexercise program for students with dyslexia and other learning differences. Built to meet specific teaching goals, our games are designed to encourage students to practice and learn fundamental principles of reading and spelling. We take those principles very seriously. But we also know that students are more likely to complete the necessary practice if they’re having a good time, so we work diligently to keep the fun in fundamental.

The latest addition to the lively, colorful, and instructive Lexercise games is “Letter Formation.” Our Chief Technology Officer and techno wizard, Rob Morris, recently talked to us about the game, its purpose, and some of the steps he takes when developing games like this. Here’s what he had to say:

“The scientific research states that letter-formation troubles are linked to difficulty with reading and spelling. When a child improves their letter formation, their reading and spelling typically improves, too. We saw an opportunity to create an interactive game that would support and instruct children who struggle with these letter formation skills.

“In this case, what we’re teaching isn’t so much how to write a letter as it is how to think about a letter. While many learners discover letter identities easily, kids with dyslexia often have difficulty distinguishing between z’s and s’s, b’s and d’s. What the Letter Formation game does is to make those distinctions explicit, to create a tangible, solid space in the student’s brain for each letter. Later, this will help them tie sounds to those letters, and then on to fluent reading. Letter identity is a key foundational concept that underpins all written language.

“Once we’ve decided to create a game to teach a particular fundamental principle, we look for a technical solution—the precise tools we need to train the student on the skill we’re reinforcing. With games, that means we also need to make it visual.

“In Letter Formation, we focused on letter pathways. Consistent with neuroscience, each letter is taught as a unique series of movements, with a specific entry point and a specific exit point. Students are taught to use the palm of their non-dominant hand as a mental guide to the proportions of letters. (This also means they always have a “handy” guide for practice when they’re not in front of a computer.)”

Letter Formation Game Illustration V1

 

“For example, on the left image you see above, you’ll find a hand with reference points. And on the right image above you’ll find an illustration showing how a lowercase d would be written. The Letter Formation game offers instruction and allows the student to practice the strokes in their correct sequence.

“After we determined that letter movement pathways would serve as the game’s anchor, we started working with the technology to see how it could support our specific goals for this game. We had to figure out a way to capture the individual pathways. Even more challenging was finding a way to automatically score and correct student efforts.  The game has to work on a variety of platforms, such as tablets, phones and touch-enabled laptops. And, we wanted the game to be interactive and instructive even for young learners who are still working on hand-eye coordination. The game is adaptive, beginning by simply providing the letter to trace and, when the student can do that, only the entry stroke location and finally, the letter’s formation without support.

“Once we figured out the technology, I worked with our artist, Iszzy, to add color and life to the game. After that, it was just about testing and tweaking until we had a fully operational game.

“We’re pushing the boundaries of self-guided learning, trying to innovate in an under-served space to make it easier for teachers and parents to help their kids. Since instruction time is so precious, we build a lot of the basic information into the system itself.

“At Lexercise, we are committed to building learning systems that engage and support children with reading and spelling challenges. The Letter Formation game is just one of the ways we do this, and while this is our most complex game to date, we’re excited to continue investing in ways to help our students thrive.”

Thanks, Rob! We’re excited to see what’s next in the games pipeline. Please visit the Lexercise games page and give Letter Formation a try!

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Can Letter Formation Promote Literacy?

Letter Formation and Dyslexia

January 23 is National Handwriting Day, established in 1977 by the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association to encourage people to buy pens and pencils. Today, it seems, our writing involves more key-clicks than ink and graphite, but, as research is discovering, letter formation by hand is a critical step in letter and word identification as well as spelling proficiency, especially among struggling readers and writers.

It’s so critical, in fact, that Lexercise has just released a new online practice game: Letter Formation.

Though we don’t fully understand why, children with dyslexia tend to have less efficient motor control over letter-writing. They may take more time to write letters even as the resulting letters are less legible.

Letter Formation and Literacy

Handwriting is deeply entwined in the brain’s literacy network. Children who have difficulty with handwriting often have problems with spelling and language fluency. In addition, children with dyslexia may struggle with mirror invariance for letter images. Mirror invariance is a normal and helpful feature of the mammalian brain. It refers to the ability to recognize a mirror image as the same object. A chair is recognized as a chair no matter which way it is turned. A person’s face can be recognized from multiple vantage points. But, to master literacy, a student must overcome mirror invariance for alphanumeric symbols. Letters are special. A -b- is not the same as a -d- and a -p- is not a -q-.

Neuroscience has shown that overcoming mirror invariance for letters is facilitated by Letter Formation and Dyslexiaattending to the hand’s movement pathway when forming letters. Each lowercase letter has a distinctive movement pathway – where it begins, how it moves and where it ends (entry, movement, exit).  To achieve fluency, this pathway is followed every time the letter is written and practiced over and over until it can be done with unconscious ease. Students who are taught to form letters using a targeted, structured, movement-based handwriting approach recognize letters more quickly, decode and spell words more accurately and fluently, and formulate written language more easily. 

Unfortunately, in the U.S., a structured approach to handwriting is not supported in public education and the Common Core State Standards curriculum has no specific guidance about how to teach this vital skill. While research supports teaching transcription (letter and word writing using a writing tool), teachers are rarely trained for the task.

Letter Formation Practice Helps Students Overcome Difficulties

The good news is that a targeted structured approach to letter formation can help students to overcome difficulties related to mirror invariance and letter identity and become more fluent writers, spellers, and readers.

The Lexercise Letter Formation game teaches students each letter’s distinctive movement pathway. The goal is legible, fluent, and automatic handwriting that promotes comprehension and memory and does not disrupt written expression. The multisensory (kinetic) focus can help dyslexic children anchor in memory otherwise confusable letters. For example, -d- and -b- have opposite movement pathways, so when learned as movement pathways they are not at all confusable! 

We invite you to try Letter Formation and the other Lexercise practice games and of course we are happy to answer your questions about online reading, writing, and spelling therapy for dyslexia and other language processing differences.

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The Lexercise Gift Guide

Who’s on your gift list this year? If you’re shopping for children with dyslexia or other learning differences, we’re here to help!

In our Lexercise Gift Guide, we have assembled a list of toys, books, magazines, and other tools that are both fun and practical. There are suggestions here for ages 1 year to adult and plenty of options for school-age kids as well as games the whole family can play. Your dyslexic child will enjoy these gifts so much, that they might not even notice they are becoming better readers and spellers at the same time!

The Lexercise Gift Guide for Dyslexic Children

 

Gifts For Children Ages 1 – and Up

gift ideas for dyslexic children ages 1 and up

1) Amazon Book Box  Ages 1 – 12
2) Dyslexic Legends  Ages 1 – 12
3) Playdoh Shape and Learn Letters  Ages 2 – 9
4) Finger Focus Highlighters  Ages 4 – 8

 

Gifts For Children Ages 5 and Up

best Dyslexic Gifts for children ages 5 and up

5) Hot Dots Jr.  Ages 5 – 8
6) Bananagrams Word Game  Ages 7+
7) Apple iPad  Ages 5 – adult
8) Learning Ally Audiobook Membership  Ages 6+
9) Audiobook Subscription  Ages 6+
10) Sight Word Swat Game  Ages 5+
11) National Geographic Kids Magazine  Ages 6 – 9
12) Phonics Dominoes  Ages 6 – 8
13) 100 Kid’s Books Scratch Off Poster  Ages 6+
14) C-Pen Reader  Ages 6+

 

Gifts For Children Ages 8 and Up

Gifts for Dyslexic children ages 8 and up

15) Mad Libs  Ages 8 – 12
16) Gigantagrams  Ages 8+
17) Simon Electronic Memory Game  Ages 8 – Teen
18) Apple AirPods   Ages   11 – adult
19) Motivational Bracelet    Ages 12+
20) Celebrate neurodiversity hoodie Ages 10+

We hope you’ve found something wonderful here for holidays or birthdays. 

Special recognition to Amanda Bush, and a big “Thank you!” to all the dyslexia therapists, who helped put this list together.

amazonsmile dyslexia services foundation banner

 

Gratitude and Appreciation

As we advance into the holiday season, I hope this post finds you and your family safe and healthy.

The year has certainly delivered more surprises and challenges than anyone could have anticipated. Even more than in previous years, I have been deeply moved by the students, families, and educators who have demonstrated the relentless commitment to the daily practice that is required to overcome a reading disorder.

In the face of upended schedules, unusual requirements, and social uncertainty, you have carried on with the practice, practice, practice, that makes decoding, spelling, and writing skills more automatic. You have found ways to overcome the disruption of having to work from home and the disappointments of not spending time with friends and extended family. Working together, you have focused your dazzling creativity to turn ordinary into extraordinary.

The work you have done and continue to do, together, will turn struggling readers and writers into confident, capable students. 2020 has tested your capacity for managing negative emotions and circumstances, and you have proved, again and again, your determination, adaptability, and sense of humor in the face of those challenges.

Thank you for your commitment. I know I speak for the entire Lexercise team in expressing my deepest appreciation and admiration for every one of you.

Whether you celebrate at one table or virtually at many, I hope you have a delicious Thanksgiving and look forward to working together in the months ahead.

Sandie Barrie Blackley

P.S. If you are figuring out how to gather your family for a virtual Thanksgiving, have a look at these tips from the Associated Press.

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How To Help A Child With Dyslexia At Home

Many parents find it difficult to know how to help a child with dyslexia at home. As a result of COVID-19, this challenge has grown as schools transition to distance and blended learning and teaching responsibilities increase for parents. Unfortunately, parents may not get all the support they need from their child’s school. Thankfully, there are many scientifically backed activities and approaches to help a child with dyslexia at home. Here are our top 5: 

1. Provide structure and routine

Schoolwork can be stressful, especially for a child with a learning disability, but it doesn’t have to be. Structure and routine are extremely beneficial when parenting any child, especially one with dyslexia. First, start by creating a set schedule and a dedicated space in your home for schoolwork. Break up their school, homework and practice into parts to provide mental breaks to recharge. If they are able to write legibly, encourage independence by asking them to take notes (using the Cornell method – see right) on reading assignments, recording questions for follow-up discussion. Praise their notes and summaries that capture the important points. Teach organizational habits such as writing down tasks and homework assignments in a planner and filing class notes into folders. Lastly, create a separation of school and home by putting away all school materials at the end of the scheduled school day.

2. Develop your child’s curiosity about words

Team up with your child to investigate a word a week using the Word Inquiry method, an approach to word study that cements connections between meaning and spelling patterns. Work with your child to create a word sum by breaking the word into parts: prefix, suffix and base and discussing the meanings of each. Word Inquiry does not put a heavy burden on working memory or processing speed, so students who might otherwise resist word study often enjoy it and excel at it. See it in action in this tutorial with expert Pete Bowers, PhD.  Word Inquiry is the main vehicle for explicit teaching about word parts (morphology) in the Lexercise Structured Literacy Curriculum©

3. Use a structured literacy curriculum

To gain proficiency in reading, spelling and writing dyslexic students need to be taught with a program that is research backed. The structured literacy (AKA, Orton-Gillingham) approach is supported by more than three decades of research from The National Institutes of Health making it “the gold standard” in teaching students to read and spell. It is not only the most effective method for students who are struggling with reading words and spelling them, but it is the most effective method for teaching the foundations of literacy to all students. This multisensory approach makes learning an active process, connecting sounds to letters and making sense of spelling. This is how you teach a dyslexic child to read and spell more automatically and fluently.

The structured literacy methodology is vast and complex but Lexercise makes it easy to help your dyslexic child at home using our online therapy programs.

4. Think outside-of-the-box when it comes to reading practice 

We’ve all heard the saying “practice makes perfect”, and in life we’ve all seen it’s true. Neuroscience confirms that regular practice is a crucial component in learning a new skill. Encourage additional reading practice outside of school and homework by using other sources like joke books, comic books, graphic novels, and cookbooks. Additionally, sometimes reading using technology will be more enticing if they have been looking at paper books all day. Consider letting them play games on their laptop or tablet for a specified amount of time after completing a reading assignment, so that they want to read in order to play the games. Consider motivating your dyslexic teenager by leveraging their time on social media. They will be reading captions and comments about people and things they are interested in. Talk with them about what they read and what it means. This will also help your child realize that, while information is everywhere,  careful reading and thinking is often necessary for full understanding.

5. Use assistive technology to your advantage!

Assistive technology has greatly improved in quality and quantity over the past few years. One great resource is the text-to-speech functionality found on most computers, tablets and phones that will read text aloud. (Pro tip: this is a built in function to all Google Chromebooks, the same ones that many schools are supplying for at-home learning.) Other great tools include audiobooks, word prediction, spellcheck (especially those that check at a sentence level and catch misspellings of words like “their” and “there”), and electronic graphic organizers. Read more about these resources here

Helping a child with dyslexia at home can feel overwhelming, but we are here to help! Schedule time to speak with a qualified dyslexia expert. 

How to choose an online school for a dyslexic student

computer on a desk with Lexercise on the screen

What Should I look for when selecting an online school for my child?

As we move toward the school year, not certain if or for how long school buildings will be open, many parents of students with dyslexia are asking themselves – and Lexercise! – how do we choose an online school or curriculum for our dyslexic child?

Online learning has been around for a while, getting both easier and more sophisticated all the time. In fact, the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) posted their “Parent’s Guide to Online Virtual Schools” in 2014!  But many families have had an opportunity to experience online learning for the first time in the last several months.  More and more parents are asking how they can evaluate virtual schools and virtual schooling. 

We suggest that parents “interview” schools and ask for specific information on the following essential elements of online learning for dyslexic students: 

1. A structured literacy approach

Structured literacy (Orton-Gillingham) is the gold standard in teaching students to read, spell and write. It is not only the most effective method for students who are struggling with reading words and spelling them, but it is also the most effective method for teaching the foundations of literacy to all students. In fact, students with dyslexia may not become proficient readers and writers unless they are taught using a structured literacy approach. A structured literacy approach requires three elements:

  • A structured literacy curriculum

    – A structured literacy curriculum thoroughly covers the concepts related to decoding and spelling words with the goal that the student will read and spell even the most complex words automatically and without excessive struggle. In addition, the word study includes vocabulary and usage. Reading, spelling, and writing are practiced in increasingly challenging text reading and writing assignments. (See this IDA structured literacy infographic.)

  • A qualified structured literacy teacher

    – To be an effective instructor for the dyslexic learner, a teacher/therapist needs special training. The IDA accredits professional development programs that meet IDA Knowledge & Practice Standards. Professional development programs that have earned IDA’s Accreditation-PLUS prepare professionals to work one-on-one with students who have complex language processing difficulties.

  • Adequate structured, daily practice

    – A system of structured, daily practice, available online, is critical to the student’s success and advancement. It allows the student to make measurable progress, offers immediate error correction, and provides the parent and teacher with data about the student’s mastery of specific skills.

2. Access to accommodations and technologies

The dyslexic child may need a variety of accommodations, such as extended time to complete assignments and tests. Parents should consider their child’s unique needs in exploring this subject with potential online schools. For example, a child who has reading and spelling challenges can benefit from the support of audio services that provide reading assignments and tests in audio mode for “ear reading.” For writing assignments, a dyslexic student may benefit from technologies such as speech-to-text and spell- and grammar-checkers that work on the level of the sentence (to flag misspellings such as “there” versus “their”). School-wide use of organizational software, such as planning organizers and a calendar system for assignments can be valuable. 

3. Content subjects 

For content subjects such as mathematics, science, history, literature, and art, ask to see the curricula and review the content. Each curriculum should specify what the student will know and be able to do after completing each unit and at the end of the course. Skills and strategies should be related to mastering specific content as opposed to vague objectives, disconnected from content. (For example:  “The student will summarize the causes of the American Civil War” as opposed to “The student will summarize passages.”)

Ask about how students are placed in the curricula. Is there flexibility for placement at a different level if a child has already mastered the material at a particular grade level or if they need to step back a level in one subject? Or will they be placed at a certain grade level regardless of what they have or haven’t already mastered. 

4. School culture

“School culture” may be a little more abstract than the measurable program elements above, but it may be vitally important for a child’s success. The Harvard Graduate School of Education article “What Makes a Good School Culture?” explains the concept. Parents seeking a supportive environment for their child’s learning should explore the school’s stated policies and goals as well as the school’s reputation and achievements. Does the school really do what it says it will do? Do the school’s values align with family’s values and priorities? How do the school’s virtual classes provide children with the opportunity to discuss their questions and opinions about topics in various subject areas? Does the school teach students a process for investigating questions, engaging in discussion, and encouraging them to respect diverse thoughts and opinions?

5. A learning coach  

IDA’s guide emphasizes the role of the learning coach (LC). Typically a parent, the LC “is an integral partner in the education process. Students look to them to administer lessons and provide immediate corrective feedback on their performance toward the lesson objectives.” In our recent “Closing the Gap” post, we noted that the reading skills of some Lexercise students have actually improved faster since school has been canceled – a success we attribute in part to the consistent involvement of that involved adult/learning coach, who may be a parent, tutor, therapist or teacher. (There is a qualified Lexercise therapist assigned to every Lexercise student.) Parents should ask whether the school assigns a learning coach for their child and whether, how, and how much the parents are expected to participate in the lessons. 

Questions about equipment, hours, communication between parents and teachers, written reports, and IEPs should also be part of the conversation with the online school. When it comes to the education of your child, there are no stupid questions. Parents should look for IDA accreditation on the program’s website and ask for detailed information until they are satisfied with the answers.

And of course, if you have questions or concerns about how your child’s reading, spelling or writing may be impacting your child’s learning, Lexercise is here to help with our online dyslexia therapy.

Bringing the Classroom Home, Part 3: Lindsey Blackburn

hands typing on laptop

In this three-part article, we have been sharing the reflections of Lexercise teletherapists about how online structured literacy intervention and online learning work.  Two weeks ago,  Leahann McLaughlin shared her experience, and last week  Josie Moretti gave her perspectives.  In this final segment, Lindsey Blackburn reflects on her journey into working with students online.

Working online is engaging, not isolating.

Lexercise teletherapist Lindsey Blackburn worked for years in the New England public schools as a certified special education teacher and learning disabilities specialist. Aspicture of Lindsey Blackburn, Lexercise Therapist a resource teacher, she says, “I had very bright students in the 7th and 8th grade who did not know how to read.” Realizing that her training had not prepared her to teach these students how to read, she went in search of more training. With the guidance of “the most incredible mentors,” she immersed herself in learning the Orton-Gillingham method and was soon seeing the benefits. “I saw the growth, so quickly,” she says. “I worked with a 3rd-grade nonreader and after two months of structured literacy training he had caught up. It was really exciting.”

As a Lexercise teletherapist, Lindsey works online with students and their families all over the world. “Sometimes people are nervous because working online is new, and that’s normal,” she explains, “but technology today is very intuitive and it’s incredibly easy. If you know how to access your email or click on a link, you will have no problem joining an online learning platform. Any problems can be resolved within minutes, and of course, I’m there to help. It gets easier every time.”

The benefits of working online are huge, Lindsey says. In the classroom, “some students get very anxious when they’re asked to read. When they’re in a private and comfortable setting in their own home – and not distracted by their activities and classmates and devices – they can really focus on their work.” An unanticipated benefit for everyone, including the therapist, is the ability to partner with the child’s parent. “The parent is the first and most important teacher, but in a brick-and-mortar clinic setting, the parents are not in the room. Working together online empowers the whole family and expedites growth and progress for students.” Plus, Lindsey notes, since dyslexia often runs in families, many parents admit that working alongside their child, they’re learning English language concepts they never learned in school!

It’s not unusual for parents to be concerned about whether their child will have rapport with the online therapist. Lindsey answers with an enthusiastic “Yes! Working together online is very interactive and authentic. Working online is engaging, not isolating.

 Leahann, Josie, and Lindsey have compiled some questions that they suggest parents might want to ask of a therapist before they enroll their child in online services.

  • My child has reading problems but no diagnosis. What should I do?
  • What are your qualifications? What is your accreditation? (Look for the International Dyslexia Association, IDA, insignia on the provider’s website.)
  • What practicum have you completed? (Qualified therapists complete hundreds of hours of supervised practice.)
  • What is structured literacy?
  • What type of students, which learning deficits, does your program help?
  • What is your approach? Is your method based on scientific evidence? Can you explain your program’s scope and sequence?
  • What is the frequency of sessions and structured practice?
  • Why should we begin online therapy now rather than waiting to see what accommodations my child’s school will provide?
  • What will be expected of me as a parent and what can I do on my end to maximize my child’s success with the program?
  • Do all children get the same therapy? How do you decide what my child needs?
  • What’s the difference between what you do and what a local tutor can do?
  • How much improvement can I expect if my child completes the work?

If you have questions about how online therapy works or how it can benefit your child, we invite you to browse the Lexercise website and we hope you will contact us.

Please stay safe and stay healthy!

For more information on Lexercise’s online therapy, click here.

Who Puts the Active in Interactive?

screenshot of Lexercise's educational games

There’s a lot going on at Lexercise. So much, in fact, that we will be sharing our news with you over the course of two separate-but-related posts.

We would like to begin by introducing and congratulating Rob Morris, who has recently accepted the title of Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for Lexercise. Our programmer and primary game developer since 2012, Rob has been involved in much of what goes on behind the scenes that make Lexercise interactive and friendly.

How do you make a CTO? Well, here’s how Rob Morris did it:

He got his first computer, an Apple II Plus, at age 8. Before long – in elementary school! – he was programming and writing games. He later went to Stanford, where he got a degree in computer science, and started a game development company in, you guessed it, his garage.

From there Rob moved into business software and consulting, relocated to North Carolina, and soon found himself working with a young company called Lexercise. He has been involved with every aspect of programming at Lexercise since that time.

As a side note, Rob has benefited personally from what he has learned about dyslexia. When he and his young daughter tried out the public screener together, her results showed mild dyslexia and he was able to enroll her in a helpful therapy program. Rob also now realizes that his father probably had undiagnosed dyslexia. An avid reader and Scrabble player and a successful business person, his father blamed his lifelong inability to spell on having to switch schools so often because of his own father’s career.

Rob’s compassion, vision, intelligence, and energy make him a welcome and valued member of the Lexercise staff. Congratulations, Rob!

In our next post, we’ll let Rob tell you about recent improvements to the Lexercise practice platform.

Thank you!

It’s almost Thanksgiving and so, along with family and turkey and pumpkin pie, our minds turn to gratitude. Here at Lexercise, we have many people and things to be thankful for: the parents and children whose trust and dedication turn struggling students into competent, confident readers; the magnificent team of Lexercise therapists who guide these families through the learning process; and, not least, our dedicated and mighty Lexercise staff.

There are many others, of course, including the educators, research scientists, and organizations working to deepen our understanding of language learning. In particular, we would like to express our deep gratitude to two journalists who have, with consistent and articulate attention, exposed the problems with how reading is taught in most U.S. schools:

  • Emily Hanford (Senior Producer and Correspondent at APM Reports) for her work explaining the science of reading and how reading should be taught.
  • Natalie Wexler (author of The Knowledge Gap: The Hidden Cause of America’s Broken Education System – And How to Fix It) for her work explaining how the U.S. education system suffers from a lack of knowledge-based curricula and a misplaced focus on “strategies” instead of knowledge (facts and critical thinking).

For several decades, reading scientists have struggled to get the world of education to hear their message about the consensus that exists around the Simple View of Reading and its implications for how reading should be taught. But in a little over a year, these two journalists have written intelligent and accessible materials that have sparked a national discussion about the Simple View of Reading:

Reading Comprehension (6)Natalie and Emily agree that reading comprehension is a primary goal. Natalie’s work has addressed mainly the listening comprehension side of the formula, whereas Emily has addressed mainly the decoding side of the formula. As the formula implies, both are essential in that each side has a multiplier effect on the goal.

Through their writing, Hanford and Wexler are helping schools find better ways to teach and, so importantly, helping parents to demand the educational methods that will teach their children to read – whatever their abilities.

You can learn more about Emily Hanford’s work by reading or listening to her APM Reports (click on her name, above, for a list of recent reports). Find out more about Natalie Wexler’s work by reading The Knowledge Gap or visiting The Knowledge Gap page on her website, where you’ll find information as well as links to presentations, podcasts, and interviews.

These dedicated writers have earned our deepest regard and they definitely deserve the nation’s thanks!

We wish you the very best for the holidays and are always here to answer your questions about dyslexia, language processing disorders, and the Lexercise approach.