schools and dyslexia Archives - Lexercise

Dyslexia Series on NPR News: Part 2


A new NPR radio series, “Unlocking Dyslexia”, sheds some light on the most common learning disability in America that is still a mystery to most. Gabrielle Emanuel, nprEd writer, and correspondent is dyslexic herself. In her series, she goes through explaining the difficulties of dyslexia, the science behind it, and the necessary steps to overcome it. This is part 2 of our 2 part review. Click here to read part 1.

The effects of dyslexia “extend[ ] far beyond the classroom, causing stress, tension, and confusion for families with a dyslexic child”. Emanuel receives some testimonials from parents of dyslexic children:

“There would be days that she could not get on the bus… Just the look of fear in her huge eyes – Mommy, I can’t do this; I can’t do this; don’t make me do this.” – Megan Lordos

“You could feel the cloud hover over the kitchen. It was just – it was a nightmare every night” – Lance Pressl

“He would get off the bus, and he would say to me, Mom, I’m stupid” – Geva Lester

Many parents and their children find themselves in this emotional and destructive spiral without knowing what the problem is or how to fix it. One mother recounts the “‘school didn’t seem worried’…they kept telling her: ‘Well, let’s wait six more months, and we’ll see what happens”. This happens more often than not. “Schools are supposed to help children with dyslexia, but many don’t have the resources to do so.” As a result, dyslexia is often denied and intervention for it is delayed. “The research suggests early and intensive reading help is most effective”. Some intervention can be costly. As one family puts it “‘…we use their college fund to pay for it. We invest in the child that we have now. You know, college won’t be an option if they continue to hate school and reject everything that has to do with reading’” (Emanuel, “Raising A Child).

The radio series highlights one dyslexia program, Lindamood-Bell, a NPR financial supporter. Emanuel received intervention at a Lindamood-Bell center as a child herself. However, she explains that “I’ve never been able to sound out unfamiliar words. And I still can’t” (“Millions Have Dyslexia”). Learning how to pronounce unfamiliar words should be a focus of treatment, a cornerstone of Lexercise therapy. Furthermore, Lindamood-Bell is very expensive, often only available in metro areas and disrupts a child’s schooling by requiring intensive, 4-6-hours-a-day instruction for 6 weeks.

If your experience sounds like the testimonials above, get your child immediate help. Lexercise Structured Literacy can be done in the comfort of your own home, works around your schedule, and most importantly guarantees a grade level increase in 8 weeks of therapy. Call us at 1-919-747-4557 with any questions or to get paired with your expert therapist.

Works Cited:

Emanuel, Gabrielle. “Raising A Child With Dyslexia: 3 Things Parents Can Do.” All Things Considered. NPR. 29 Nov. 2016. Radio.

Emanuel, Gabrielle. “Millions Have Dyslexia, Few Understand It.” All Things Considered. NPR. 28 Nov. 2016. Radio.

Photo Credit: NPR

Schools Deny Dyslexia

Don't Deny and DelayWe hear from parent after parent that the school is failing their child. Unfortunately, schools deny dyslexia and delay children from getting the right help. There are many flaws in the bureaucracy of school systems that make it difficult if not impossible to identify a child with dyslexia and then provide them with the right intervention. Author Holly Korbey from KQED recently wrote about this difficulty in her article “Who Helps Kids With Dyslexia Gain Reading Fluency?”. The article highlights dyslexia expert, educational psychologist, and our friend Martha Youman, Ph.D.

Martha began as an elementary school teacher and quickly realized that despite her master’s in teaching she was completely uneducated to identify her struggling students as dyslexic. Since then, Martha has continued on to become a dyslexia expert and school psychologist to help identify and support those children with learning disabilities. picture of martha youman phdUnfortunately, that isn’t enough, Martha admits “… there are multiple bureaucratic barriers standing in the way of students getting help” (Korbey, 2015). Even if a parent is able to get their child an IEP after months if not years of passing through red tape, it may not be effective. Martha says “…..whether or not IEPs actually help depends upon the individual school’s resources, because teachers and paraprofessionals need to be trained on what exercises to do to help students diagnosed with dyslexia, and the best results come from individual instruction. She admitted that in many cases, IEPs don’t really work and many families must rely on private tutors” (Korbey, 2015). Dyslexia intervention in schools often means a child is taken out of class and given “extra help” in groups of 5-10. Yet individualized 1:1 help is absolutely necessary to teach a dyslexic child how to approach reading in a way that their brain is wired to learn.

Laurie Cutting, professor of special education and faculty director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Reading Clinic says “approximately 1-2 percent of kids will always struggle, but that leaves 48 percent — nearly all of that second half of the classroom — who would be greatly helped with direct instruction correctly administered”(Korbey, 2015). Cutting’s clinic uses the same Orton-Gillingham-based therapy that Lexercise provides; however, we have the advantage of helping any family no matter where they live. She goes on to explain the problem: “’You have a finite amount of money and a bunch of kids. The kids who are going to get the services are most likely the ones who are the most severe or have the most advocates… It’s sort of a fundamental fact of life. It’s too bad that we are not able to capture kids early enough to do some remediation so that they don’t have as many word-level problems. It’s too bad that teachers many times aren’t trained in a way that allows those kids to work through their weaknesses, to sound out their words. Because that would benefit all of the kids”(Korbey, 2015).

Teletherapy illustration-child with clinicianWho will help your child? We will. If you are concerned that your child may be dyslexic you can screen them for free here. Don’t wait for the school to provide inadequate help. Don’t let the school deny and delay your child the help that they need. Lexercise will match you with a specialized therapist who will help your child improve their reading to grade level in a matter of months!

Signs Your School Doesn’t Get Dyslexia

The vast majority of students learn tSchool Resources Dyslexiao read once they start school and parents rightly expect that it will only take a few years until their child develops into a proficient reader.  While general reading instruction is targeted at “middle of the road” kids, schools are also expected to adapt their curriculum and instruction to accommodate children who do not succeed in the general classroom.

As we speak with parents all over the country, we find that schools accomplish this with varying degrees of success.  The range is very wide with the best schools training their personnel in structured literacy (formerly known as Orton-Gillingham).  We applaud these programs and wish more schools would adopt similar approaches.  Other schools don’t even acknowledge the existence of dyslexia, treating it  as “the D word”.

Obviously, if school personnel won’t even say the word dyslexia, they are not prepared to educate children with that condition!

Here are a few more signs that a school doesn’t get dyslexia and is not prepared to teach children with dyslexia.

  1. They don’t test for or diagnose dyslexia.  Many schools won’t use the term “dyslexia” to diagnose students.  They may tell parents that dyslexia is a medical diagnosis or that they only test for learning disability.  If your school won’t diagnose dyslexia, they are not likely to treat it effectively.
  2. They “don’t identify dyslexia or reading disability until third grade.”  Despite the reality that children with dyslexia are born with dyslexia, schools often refuse to evaluate students until later in their academic careers.  Children as young as 5-6 years old can be tested for and identified with dyslexia.  Waiting a diagnosis can be so harmful to students!  A school that would delay diagnosis and treatment for years is not likely to treat dyslexia successfully.
  3. They don’t use appropriate assessments.  Schools use various instruments to screen students’ reading and make sure they are “on track.”  If assessments do not heavily weigh a student’s phonological awareness and ability to identify unfamiliar words free of context but rather use books with pictures, which allow students to use context to identify words, students with dyslexia may perform in the average range until late second or early third grade.  These tests do not screen for dyslexia and if your school doesn’t know that, they probably can’t treat dyslexia either.
  4. They teach kids how to guess.  The research is clear: a “whole language” approach to reading fails many students.  Yet, we see students receiving that type of instruction, not only in general education classes, but in their interventions.  Students with dyslexia are inclined to use context and guessing strategies to the detriment of their overall reading development.  If your school encourages this, they don’t have the right approaches to treat dyslexia.
  5. They encourage you to retain your struggling reader or attribute reading failure to development.  Retention is only an effective intervention for a very small number of students.  For kids with dyslexia, it is a terrible idea.  Repeating a grade means a second year with instruction that has proven ineffective for the student.  Students with dyslexia don’t need more instruction, they need the right instruction and accommodations.  If your school doesn’t know this, if they strongly encourage you to retain your child, chances are they don’t know how to treat dyslexia.
  6. They tell you your child can’t have dyslexia because his or her grades are too high.  Some students with dyslexia do great on spelling tests.  It requires a lot of work to memorize all those words each week, but they still do quite well at it.  Later, they usually don’t retain the spelling patterns for those words.  High grades in spelling or reading do not mean a child does not have dyslexia.  If your school doesn’t know the difference, they probably can’t treat dyslexia either.
  7. They won’t commit to a particular approach or program.  Schools need flexibility to use whatever approach or program is effective with students.  Yet, for students with dyslexia, we know what works: multisensory structured literacy.  The simplest way for school personnel to implement this approach is by adopting a particular curriculum, based on that approach.  If your school doesn’t name this specific approach, they probably don’t know enough about dyslexia to provide effective treatment.

None of these things happen because of schools’ ill intent.  Nobody is conspiring to see kids with dyslexia fail.  Yet schools rarely provide successful, effective intervention for these students.  If your school is not prepared to provide effective intervention now, waiting for them to get ready wastes valuable time!  

Watch this video to see how you can get your child reading successfully today.


(Here is a related article on why schools struggle to to help dyslexic students.)