Selecting a Treatment Approach

selecting-a-treatment-blogParents of children with language processing difficulties often have trouble sorting out the sometimes fantastic claims made by companies selling various products and programs for improving reading and writing. With so many products claiming to work wonders like “balancing” and “building” the brain, improving “auditory processing,” straightening out “visual processing problems,” etc. no wonder parents are confused! Here are some things you can do to cut through the confusion and marketing:

  1. Before you look at any program review the “best practices” guidelines from authoritative sources and agencies that aren’t selling anything.  Possible sources include:
  2. Then, with a list of the guidelines you have compiled from step #1, make a checklist of the “best practice” features of reading and writing interventions.
  3. Using your checklist, review all the programs you are considering. Look at the claims on the company’s website. Be skeptical. Put on your “critical thinking hat”. Check off the “best practices” that you are sure each program features.
  4. Look for research that has studied methodologies (both branded and unbranded) using meta-analytic methods, combining results across well-controlled studies.  For example:
  5. Here are some resources for evaluating therapies:

There are 3 components needed for intervention to be successful:

  1. A Structured Literacy method
  2. Customized, dedicated daily practice
  3. A Clinician who knows language structure and how to teach it

If you only have 1 or 2 of the 3 necessary components, interventions will not be successful.

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Finally, if you are still confused (and this CAN be confusing!) consider getting some professional guidance. Our dyslexia therapists meet and exceed the International Dyslexia Association’s Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading and Spelling, and we’d be happy to discuss your child’s specific needs and what science has shown works best for children with those patterns. Sign up for a free 15-minute consultation here. 

Online Orton-Gillingham: Too Good to be True?

girloncomputerParents 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!

 

Convenience
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.

Parent Involvement
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.

file0001759554245Daily Practice
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.

Begin Immediately!
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:

Research Backs Structured Literacy

Latest Research Shows How the Brain Learns Reading

file4501243625430The 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!

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References:

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

What is Orton-Gillingham (aka, Structured Literacy)?

Orton-Gillingham (aka, structured literacy) therapy is the leading approach to helping children overcome dyslexia and other reading, spelling, and writing difficulties. Developed in the early 1900’s, Orton-Gillingham is considered the “gold standard” for therapy due to almost 35 years of research supporting its effectiveness.

More recently called structured literacy, the method centers on several bedrock principles I’ve articulated and explained below, while also describing how Lexercise incorporates these principles into our online therapy.

If you remember nothing else from this article, remember this:  Structured literacy is a science-backed, comprehensive approach to teaching reading, writing, and spelling that is widely accepted as the world’s most effective way to teach literacy and to help struggling readers and writers. 

What is Structured Literacy?

dyslexic boy, Orton-GillinghamMulti-Sensory

In an Orton-Gillingham (structured literacy) approach sounds and letters are taught to your child using three main sensory pathways: sight, sound, and movement. Using learning pathways alongside explicit instruction makes it easier for students to remember and apply concepts when needed. This multi-sensory approach makes learning an active rather than passive process, scaffolding memory and making reading and spelling more automatic.

Ordered Logically

We teach the structure of the English language to your child in an organized and systematic way. This therapy covers reading, spelling, and writing simultaneously, so your child experiences how they relate to each other. Our clinicians guide your child through therapy at a crisp pace, while still making sure that we do not move on until he/she masters the concepts and skills taught.

Individualized

Your child is unique, so it is critical that our expert therapists individualize therapy to his/her needs. In the hands of our qualified structured literacy therapists, students who have struggled for years in school show tremendous progress in only a few months. In between our weekly lessons, your therapist will customize online games and provide you with tabletop activities to reinforce what your child is learning in his/her sessions.

Sequenced and Cumulative

Weekly lessons start from simple to more complex tasks, while also providing a review of prior concepts. Our scope and sequence use a structured literacy progression, including (a) the six syllable types of English for reading and spelling vowels and (b) scientific word inquiry methods for understanding the meaning of parts of words (basis and affixes). Using this framework helps to give context to new concepts while activating and building upon prior knowledge.

Cognitive

We teach your child to think through reading and spelling instead of just guessing. Even phonetically “irregular” words make perfect sense when they are properly understood. For example, the spelling of the word <two> makes sense in connection with the number “2” and its word relatives <twelve>, <twenty>, <twin>, <twine> and <twist>. Since we teach your child how to think about and understand words, it takes the guesswork out of reading, spelling and writing.  Words are understood at a deep level, improving both comprehension and expression.

dyslexic girl, Orton-GillinghamEmotionally Sound

We realize that many struggling readers and writers have been misidentified, perhaps called lazy, or have been made to feel stupid when they are not.  The treatment that we provide will not only help your child’s reading and writing difficulties but will help him/her feel empowered. We help your child develop a growth mindset and self-advocacy skills, that will follow him/her not only through their treatment but throughout his/her academic career.

It Works

This is a methodology that is based on the science of language learning. In a matter of months, significant progress can be achieved. For example, on average our students at Lexercise improve by several grade levels in reading in a semester. Lexercise’s Structured Literacy Curriculum uses science-backed principles–leveraging a blended learning model to maximize effectiveness,  combining live video therapy, online games for daily practice, and parent / teacher support materials for offline activities. Using our technology, our structured literacy therapists are able to tailor therapy to fit your child’s specific learning needs. Learn more about our online literacy therapy or call us today at 1-919-747-4557.

Broadcast 36: Creating High Quality Instruction in Teaching Reading

picture of Elisabeth LiptakElisabeth (Liz) Liptak is the Professional Services Director for the International Dyslexia Association, and joined us to discuss the IDA’s Knowledge & Practice Standards. She talked about how the IDA Standards can help teachers and parents recognize what to look for in high-quality reading instruction and how parents can get the help they need for their children who struggle with reading, spelling, and writing.

The IDA Standards serve as a guide to teachers and parents for selecting effective programs and methods for teaching children with dyslexia. Liz Liptak discussed how the Standards guide effective instruction, what teachers and clinicians need to know and be able to do to deliver effective intervention. The Standards provide guidance in the use of structured literacy in an intervention program. An effective program provides daily, structured practice in the following areas:

1. Phonology
2. Phonics and Word Study
3. Fluent, Automatic Reading of Text
4. Vocabulary
5. Text Comprehension
6. Handwriting, Spelling, Written Expression

Liz Liptak was formerly the Executive Director of the Washington Literacy Council, a community-based direct service program in Washington DC that served struggling adult readers and younger children. Liz also worked for two years on a reading research project at the Krasnow Institute, which was funded by the Department of Education. Liz has been a reading tutor since 1989, most recently in the DC Public Schools. Liz works closely with the IDA Board’s Standards and Practices Committee.

Click here to download the presentation for this Live Broadcast in pdf format.