The sooner a child with dyslexia is identified and receives appropriate instruction, the better the outcome. Consider:
- A child who can't read at grade level by 3rd grade is four times less likely to graduate by age 19 than a child who reads proficiently by that time. (Robert Balfanz, John Hopkins University study, 2011)
- Students not proficient in reading by the beginning of 3rd grade have only a 17% chance of catching up throughout their entire school experience. (NICHD study)
For those reasons, and because many schools in Minnesota do not yet provide the kind of instruction students with dyslexia need, we recommend having your child tutored in reading. The type of instruction most children with dyslexia benefit from is called Structured Literacy. Structured Literacy approaches reading systematically and sequentially teach the sounds and symbols of our language. Many are based on the works of Samuel Orton and Dr. Anna Gillingham and are known as the Orton-Gillingham method. They are:
- Explicit: No knowledge of skills are assumed. All students start at the beginning.
- Systematic and Cumulative: Lessons are taught in order with none skipped. Each lesson builds on previous learning.
- Multisensory: All of the senses are engaged during lessons (auditory - hear it, visual - see it, kinesthetic - touch it).
- Student-Paced and Taught to Mastery: Students do not move on until the content is learned to automaticity.
The following programs have a list of names who are certified tutors.
- Orton Gillingham of MN
- Wilson Reading
- Barton Reading and Spelling Program
- The Reading Center
- International Dyslexia Association - Upper Midwest Branch
- Learning Ally
There are no silver bullets or cures for dyslexia. You may come across programs that claim to help students with reading, but be wary of programs or techniques that rely on approaches that have not been shown to be effective. These include:
- Things that don’t include practice with reading in a systematic, explicit, multisensory, phonetic method (some examples include colored lenses, overlays, vision therapy, spinal or cranial realignment therapy, scalp pressure, crawling therapy, cognitive improvement therapy, midline crossover exercise therapy, diet-related claims).
- Tutoring chains, educators, or volunteers who are not trained or certified with an OG / Structured Literacy training program. Do NOT go to chain tutoring centers!
- Therapies that do not include actual practice with reading. Therapies designed to improve eye coordination, near and far focus, depth perception, etc. may improve students use of their eyes while reading, but they are not a replacement for teaching the necessary components for reading.
- Programs that guarantee an outcome. Read the fine print. Many programs that guarantee results do not apply when the student has an identified reading disorder or disability. If a disability is identified during the tutoring, the guarantee may be disregarded.
- Programs that require very large sums of money upfront before the therapy begins should be a red flag. Proceed with caution if the claims seem too good to be true.
To learn more, read the International Dyslexia Association's fact sheet - Effective Instruction for Students with Dyslexia.
For more information on How to Get Help, see the Bright Solutions website.
Parents may want to check with their insurance companies and health saving's accounts in particular to discuss if anything is covered under their plan as far as diagnosis and remediation options or if it can be claimed as part of a medical Flex Spending Account (FSA).