Archive for November, 2008

What can I do to help my child read faster? submitted by K Weeks

Top six things to improve your child’s reading speed.

1.  Read to them everyday.

2.  When reading with them try echo reading: You read the sentence and then they reads the same sentence pointing to each word. 

3.  Try choral reading having them and a sibling read text together outloud with you reading it too.   All three of you reading together. Text to build speed needs to be text that they can read 90% of the words accurately the first time.

3.  Try thinking aloud.  When reading, say what someone would think when they are reading a word they haven’t read before.  You know how to read words, but you know for them that there are words that they hit and say, oh goodness, that is a big word.  If you were reading, The cat is swinging in the tree.  You can can think aloud as you read.  Be sure to tell the kids you are going to think aloud because else wise they might just interrupt to tell you the word.  It is done like this. 

 “The cat is…hmm.. /s/../w/, the letters ing say /ing/ so I have /s/, /w/, ing… swing, the letters ing again, it’s swinging.  The cat is swinging in the …tr says the  /tr/ sound and ee…tree.  The cat is swinging in the tree.” 

 This models the thought process someone that is trying to read something difficult for them.  This is a process we naturally, as fluent readers do on hard words, but we don’t say it outloud.  Some kids need to be taught this process.  Within that you end up teaching him sound combinations that he may not know at this point like that ing makes the /ing/ sound and tr makes the /tr/ sound.  It is best done by watching for those sounds he most says incorrectly and then modeling it with those sounds. Put those sounds in a powerpoint or on flashcards and practice them.  Model the think aloud when you see that sound. 

 4.  Create flashcards or powerpoints with the common letter combinations for specific sounds or common words they are not reading with quick recognition.  Once they begin to recognize and state the word within a second, you will want to build automaticity by flashing the card for less than a second and make it disappear.  This is the point they then sate the word.  They think about it after the words has disappeared.  They can’t sound it out.  

5.  Read, read and re-read poetry, things with rhythm and/ or rhyme, repeatedly.

6.  Reader’s Theater- reading their part that is on their level repeatedly.

Please email me questions/comments.  I will be glad to consult with you to help you in regards to your child’s needs.




My son can’t read his spelling words, is this ok? (submitted by L Mison)

If your child can not read their spelling words then it doesn’t make since to expect them to learn to spell them.  It is really sad that in many of our schools teachers have their spelling curriculum that for struggling readers is just too high.  If your child has an IEP and is struggling in reading, I would highly recommend you asking your special education teacher to consider writing in your child receiving an alternative spelling list.

Spelling is an important skill.  It should not be dismissed.  Spelling helps reading skills and there is so much more to spelling then just memorization.  Research shows that children who learn how the spelling system works in English with its patterns, sounds, and definitions through spelling skills, increase their reading fluency, comprehension and writing skills.   If a student is given spelling words that they struggle to read, the spelling lists become more about memorization instead of the skills that go with spelling.  We want to teach the phonetic patterns and how the system works through spelling, making the process the most important, not the level of spelling.

Scientifically, it has been found that students learn spelling best when their spelling words come from the words they are misspelling in their writing.  This means that those words are being used on a regular basis by the student and they are not spelling them correctly.  They can immediately begin to use the word and should be expected to spell it correctly from then on. 

For teachers that are not willing to create an alternative list for students that can read the spelling list, “You are just plain lazy.”  It isn’t that hard.  Just find words they can read.

I don’t know what’s wrong but my son doesn’t know how to socialize properly? Submitted by V Southard

On the way home from an event in the car with another teacher, we were discussing the needs of her son.  her son is in special education for ADHD, but she knows there is much more she says.  I just don’t know how to get help.  After discussing things for a little while, we came up with an understanding that he doesn’t truly know how to hold a conversation with others properly.  She was unaware that this is considered a speech concern under the area of pragmatics.  Many times students with Asperbers, Autism or other behavioral concerns struggle in this area and if undiagnosed they do not receive the speech services needed.  In this post I will discuss how to tell if pragmatics may be an issue for your child and how to go about having them evaluated.


What are the signs of social skill (pragmatic) speech issues?

1.  No eye contact

2.  struggles with taking turns in conversation

3.  Off topic

4. Lack of understanding for how to introduce or change topics 

5. Lack of understanding how to rephrase when misunderstood

6. Doesn’t understand verbal and nonverbal social cues

7. Inappropriate proximity (closeness) to partner in conversation

8. Inappropriate facial expressions

9. Inappropriate tone (we speak differently to a baby than an adult or peer)

10.  Lack of appropriate volume control

11. Inappropriate use of conversation from playground to classroom

12. tell stories in disorganized way

13. have low variety of language use

Note:  Rules are different for different cultures and should be considered.

When looking at the above pragmatic concern areas it is important to note that children may have pragmatic difficulties in a few situations and that would not be unusual.  What is unusual is when a child has pragmatic issues that occur often and are inappropriate for their age. Many times these kids will struggle with making and keeping friends because others will avoid them.  It is frustrating to communicate with someone who has these difficulties. It goes the same way that the child may choose to keep to themselves and not attempt to make friends because it is too difficult.  They don’t know how to express themselves well and feel very misunderstood.  They are often frustrated by this. 

As a special education teacher, I am not an expert in regards to speech, but have worked with speech therapist for a long period of time. 

Now that I do believe my child is struggling what do I do? Call for a meeting

In the case of the parent I was working with, we conversed about a number of the above topics.  The parent was unaware that this was a speech issue.  She said, “He can talk fine.”  This is because most people see speech as an articulation issue or stuttering, something of this sort.  Not true.  Pragmatics is just as important and is essential to a child’s well-being.  It is important for them to be able to express themselves, be understood and receive communication appropriately. 

We continued and I discussed with her that she needed to call for a Multidisciplinary Education Team Meeting.  In some states this is called an IEP meeting or an ARD meeting.  When doing this you can submit your request in person, email, phone, or in writing.  If there is concern with follow through at your school then you may want to request in writing.  After the request is made, the school has 10 days to hold a meeting with you to address the concern.  Before submitting this, write down what areas you are concerned about, collect specific examples to have ready to share, and talk to the teacher asking them questions about those things and if they have seen any of the things you see.  Ask them to give you examples.  If they haven’t seen it, then ask them to be watchful between then and the meeting.  A speech therapist should be at this meeting as they are the expert and essential to the success of the meeting.

What will happen at the meeting?

In the meeting, which should include the regular education teacher, other teachers working with the child, an administrative representative (person with approval for monetary decisions), speech therapist, and parent.  Anything done here is a team decision. You should carry your specific examples of concerns in the area of pragmatics.  Share those specifics.  Ask questions about what you do not understand.  Be flexible. 

Trust the speech therapist.  For the most part they are on your side and want what is best for the child.  They are the expert so try to listen and work with them.  If they choose to request an evaluation, they may advise doing more or less to address the concerns or even a different route to addressing the concerns.  In some states and with some areas of need it is important that you receive a medical diagnosis.  This does not give them the excuse to send you to the doctor for evaluation.  The school can do the proper testing they see needed and then if needed you can take that documentation to the doctor and the doctor refer you or make the proper diagnosis from those results provided to him.  In some cases, you may choose to go to your doctor first and use insurance.  This is up to you and sometimes parents feel this is easier.  You should not feel pushed to this. 

In the case above, I attended the parents meeting and the parent did not know how to clearly describe what they were experiencing.  This is why you should write examples down.  Fortunately, I attended and was able to ask questions of them and the teacher to dig out what was being experienced.  As a result, the meeting which was leaning in the direction of no assessment, led to a full evaluation and assessment for other concerns that had not been addressed as well.  The lesson is to be prepared and not intimidated by the number of people attending the meeting.

He was assessed and qualified now what?

The speech therapist will design a plan which will include individual and/or group therapy.  This may include social coaching and social skills training where they can practice skills in a safe environment.  The speech therapist is the expert and will know the proper way to address concerns.  They usually will provide you with things to work with your child on as well and make sure you follow through.  This is what provides the best results.  Daily practice leads you to the quickest success.

In some cases, they may refer you for more testing or to the doctor for concerns that need to be diagnosed by a doctor.  This is to help you get more services that may be available through your state programs for students with more severe concerns.  This guidance is in the best interest of your child. 

You have rights and it is important to know them. If you need help or questions answered please feel free to email me.  I am available for services to attend meetings to aid in the process or to help you be prepared with what to share to advocate for your child.  If you found this helpful and you have success as a result of this post, please email me or post a comment.  I always enjoy and appreciate feedback.

How do I get control of my child (student) for school, they are out of control? (question submitted by email by L Thompson)

Negative behaviors are one of the greatest struggles parents and teachers face.  We must first determine if the student can’t do what is being asked or if they won’t do what is being asked of them.  There are 4 key items to remember in regards to negative behaviors.

  • Negative Behaviors usually serve one of two purposes.

To Avoid Something or To Control Something

  • Changing a behavior takes longer than learning it.
  • Many times the behaviors have worked and as a result been reinforced for years.
  • Consistency is essential in changing a behavior.

Some Sample Negative Behaviors and Interventions

Let’s talk about a variety of negative behaviors and some interventions to help in each of these areas:

Child crys when given assignments or says, “I can’t do it.”

 Things to do:

  1. Validate how they feel.  Feelings are something they are unable to control so don’t argue with how they feel or undermine their feelings, but move forward.
  2. Ask them to be specific about what they “can’t do” with an understanding calm voice.
  3. Break the assignment down into smaller parts or give them a certain period of time that you will not make them work past at that given time.
  4. Work through a few examples together having you coach them through the steps, piece by piece and then them coach you through the steps or even you coach one step, them coach the next until the goal is accomplished.

Child refuses to do the work. “You can’t make me.”

Things to do:

  1. Don’t Argue.  They are right, you really can’t make them. Arguing gives them more power.
  2. Provide choices that make it more beneficial to do it than to not.  For example, Your choices are complete your math homework and join us for family movie night or brush your teeth, get ready for bed and lights out.  No movie night and no playing other things, it is bedtime.  Sometimes providing a choice of how to do what has been asked is helpful, if learn to do this before the argument.  For example, “You have math homework to do, I can sit down with you and help you right now for the next 30 minutes or you can have the next 30 minutes to play and then you can complete your homework in your bedroom while the family watches the movie for family movie night.”  They are more likely to pick a choice and then they are choosing it and it avoids the argument altogether.
  3. Dig into why they are arguing, ask them if they understand how to do what is being asked or if they find it hard.  It might be their way of showing you that they are having a hard time.
  4. Break the job up into parts.  If it is like in the example above math homework and consists of 10 problems, maybe you ask for them to do 5 problems and then take a break, doing something fun, like playing their choice video game for 30 min and then coming back and doing the other 5.  If this is a chore at home.  Maybe it is breaking “clean your room”  into parts.  Make up the bed, then do something of their choice for 15min, 30min, whatever is doable and appropriate, then pick up the toys off the floor, etc.
  5. Use a behavior plan.  Will be discussed later, below.

Child becomes angry resulting in destruction, cursing, or screaming.

Things to do:

  1. Stay calm and do not argue.  It will only make the situation worse.
  2. Provide expectations that they will clean up any messes they make and follow through with having them clean it up after the situation has calmed. You can’t give in and clean it up for them, this will only make things worse.
  3. Provide a “cool off zone”. This is somewhere they ARE allowed to go and yell or scream or kick, but they must remain in that zone. They need to know the guidelines and rules for the cool off zone. When they are done and ready to leave the zone, they will be expected to return to the assignment given.  Cool off zones should be clear of anything they could damage or destroy and somewhere you are able to remove yourself so that if they are loud it is not as irritating for you. 
  4. They need short, clear, concise directions when they are upset to this degree so keep it simple and short. 
  5. Establish routines so that expectations are clear.
  6. Use behavior plan with strong rewards and consequences that matter. (will discuss later, below)

Child can’t stay still or get focused.

Things to do:

  1. Allow movement and way of work being done.  Parents: talk to your teacher about letting them sit on the floor, lay on the floor, stand, sit on exercise ball, maybe they would need to be in the back of the room for less distraction but maybe it would make a difference.  Give them a stress ball or kneaded eraser to squeeze and manipulate during listening and sitting time and accept this if they are able to do use it and listen while not distracting others.  Teachers:  Try it.
  2. Use a visible timer and have them work to beat the clock at the task.
  3. Give a specific amount of time to work on the task.
  4. Sandwich this less interesting task/activity with two likeable tasks.
  5. Give praise everytime you see possiblein regards to staying focused or being on task. 

Changing the Behaviors

  • Behaviors will not change if they are getting something out of it.  It is being reinforced.  For example, child has a fit in a particular situation so you take them away from the situation.  If they wanted out of the situation then you have just reinforced the behavior of having a fit.  Having a fit= Get out of it.
  • Rewards have to be something the student is buying into and helping to create in order to work.  You can draw limitations on rewards and definitely have the rewards be something that have to be approved, but they still come up with them.  Sometimes just telling them to brainstorm ideas of free rewards, gives you a lot to work with and isn’t getting into the pocketbook.
  • Consistency, consistency, consistency….If one time they do something and it is accepted and the next results in consequence and it isn’t consistently reinforced in the behavior direction you are looking for then they will continue to test the behavior because it might be the time that it is accepted.  This is why it is best to work on one specific behavior for a while before moving on to a second.  If you try to change too many behaviors at once it becomes difficult to keep track and stay consistent.  But doing one, then adding another and another gives you the opportunity to stay consistent with one that hopefully will not be being very tested by the time you get to the third behavior you are working to change.  It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
  • Dedication It is essential that you realize that changing behavior will take time.  You have to stick with a new plan with new rules and boundaries for at least 30 days to truly determine if it is working or not working.  One day or even a week, sometimes two are just not enough to undue years of learned negative behavior. You may need help and don’t hesitate to ask for help. You must persevere to succeed.

Behavior Plans

A behavior plan usually consists of two parts.  One is a contract that is agreed upon between an adult and the child that has agreed upon rewards and consequences that hopefully the child was able to come up with.  This gives them buy in to the plan.  The contract should also have the rules and expectations.  What behaviors are wanted and which ones are not.  For example:  Johnny will follow directions without negative comments like, “This is stupid.” Johnny can say positive things or remain silent while following directions.  You will want these written in the positive, You don’t want to write the rule or expectation as, “Johnny will not state negative comments when asked to do something.” 

Second is the behavior tracking.  This is something created that can be marked with initials, simple marks, stickers, etc.  There is a positive side and a negative side.  After an expectation was seen or not seen, the situation is discussed and if the child is able, they would mark the negative or positive side appropriately.  The adult can too- but they seem to enjoy that part and if they take advantage of them having that control then this can be a consequence.  If you think this might be neccessary, it should be written in the contract.  

The contract should be reviewed on a regular basis, my recommendation is weekly, but sometimes daily is needed. More than a week is just too much.  At that time, the contract is reviewed and rewards or consequences followed through with if set on longer term goals.  If the rewards or consequences are immediate with each time a wanted or unwanted behavior is demonstrated then thiswouldn’t be neccessary. Then determine if rewards or consequences should be changed and change goals/expectations as needed. The expectation will many times stay the same for a few weeks and then you are able to up the expectation or move on to new expectations that need to be addressed.  Each time, it should be signed.

A note about consequences: Consequences are decided on prior to a rule being broken and are meant to eliminate negative behaviors. They should be logical.  A punishment is something that is done at the time of a rule being broken and was not agreed upon.  This is motivated by making someone pay for something they have done.

A note on rewards:  These need to be addressed on daily short term situations and long term situations and should have a variety, choices to choose from for the reward and my favorite, “free” Get to watch favorite tv show, computer time, video game time, etc.  For the long term goals given on weekly, monthly or just when they have earned them can include non-free things like going out to eat or to the movies or even having a friend come to spend the night.  You can not take away an award once it was earned, but can delay if neccessary due to an inappropriate behavior.  This can make some kids feel like there isn’t a point if it is just going to be taken away.

Last but not Least Positive Feedback and Praise

It takes about 10 positive comments to balance out 1 negative.

Positive feedback and praise must be specific, not just good job but “I really liked the way you cleaned up all of your mess after finishing your project, it made everything so nice.  You did a fine job.”

Good Luck and let me know if you use my suggestions and how they turned out.  




Do you know how to treat dysgraphia? (question submitted by A Miller)

What type is it?  

 Dyslexic dysgraphia-  This is when written text is illegible, particularly when writing something more involved like a story or essay, not answers to questions in reading or science, etc.  Oral spelling is poor, but being able to draw and copy written text is pretty normal.  Finger tapping is normal, no trouble.  – If this one then we want to look more at his reading and make sure there isn’t a mild form of dyslexia and not noticeable now, but come grade 4 or 5 would become extremely apparent.

 Motor dysgraphia-  Whether the writing is spontaneous or copied text, it is illegible, oral spelling is good, not perfect, but drawing is difficult.  Finger tapping is difficult resulting in below normal

 Spatial Dysgraphia-  Writing is illegible whether it is spontaneous or copied.  Oral spelling is good, not perfect, drawing is difficult, but finger tapping is normal, no trouble.

 *Finger tapping- how quickly a person can tap their index finger in a 10 second period

 Treatments and Aids

 There are common things to help but knowing which one helps know if there are specific skills that need to be addressed.  For all, it is recommended that they learn to use a word processor for writing. It is also recommended that they learn cursive earlier because cursive doesn’t require the picking up of a pencil and having to figure out where to re-place the pencil to continue.  It also may help to try out a variety of pencil grips to find one that is comfortable and helps to use the proper grip when learning cursive. All letters in cursive start on the line, which deals with the spatial end and eliminates one of the confusions when writing.  Cursive is difficult to reverse the letters and word spacing is not as much an issue because of the flow of cursive.  Cursive gives that natural flow and rhythm. If there are motor difficulties are aided by the opportunity to more easily distinguish between the b,d,p, and q because these letters are very different in cursive.

  It is important to use more kinesthetic whole movements when learning the letters.  Coming up with a description for how the letter is made. For instance a cursive e, you might say, “up to the midline, curl around and back down to the line.”  While saying, you would have them doing a full body arm movement to create that letter shape.  Also, drawing the letters on their back, on your back, etc. Handwriting Without Tears is an excellent program for dysgraphia and is highly recommended for it, but you will want to do the full whole movements as well.  After learning several letters and beginning to put words together, they would write those letters in the air.  Handwriting without tears shares some different important connecting shapes to practice and learn.  These would want to be practiced with these whole body movements, not just on paper.  

If motor dysgraphia, we need to work on strengthening the hands along with these other techniques.  This can be done best with what they call theraputty or therapy putty.  It has different levels and is meant to be used to strengthen all the muscles of the hands to have better control over finger movements.  

Accommodations at school 


·     Allow more time for written tasks

·     Begin assignments early

·     Allow elective course for spending this extra time on assignments and catching up, maybe as a “teacher aide or library aide”

·     Keyboarding for increasing speed and legibility for work.

·     Use templates for assignments

·     Notes with blanks instead of having to take all notes on their own.  Give student the teacher notes with words missing.

·     Dictate assignments with a scribe that will write what the student says verbatim.

·     Remove neatness and/or spelling from grading criteria for some assignments

·     Allow shorthand in some writing like w/o (without) or b/c (because), encourage them to use shorthand for notes.

·     Use computer to create rough draft and copy that rought draft into a new document to revise and turn in revised copy and unrevised for rough draft.

·     Cursive taught earlier and used earlier.

·     Use raised line paper -you can buy or create this by taking regular paper, or handwriting paper and puting a thin strip of glue along the bottom line.

·     Don’t be picky about writing utensil, let them choose, but mechanical pencils are usually bad.

·     Use graph paper orturn lined paper sdeways for math to line up columns of numbers.

·     Fun grips or larger pencils

·     Speech Recognition Software like Dragon Speak Naturally for older students, but should not replace working on handwriting.  Everyone needs to be able to write legibly.


It may also become important to limit the amount of written response required, providing alternative assignments to the written form or shortening written assignments.  This is a modification instead of an accommodation. 

How do I set up a schedule with my Autistic child?

Today, I had a parent who was struggling with their child as they had been told to create a schedule for their Autistic child to follow on a regular basis. They were told that Autistic kids need a schedule and like routine and things to be the same. They started it and it was the worst day ever. No one bothered to share how to create the schedule so she had designed a schedule with the times and for each subject they would do for school today. The schedule had 8-8:15: get materials ready. 8:15-9:00 Composition. #1, they had exact times. Autistic kids expect if you give a certain amount of time that you are going to start at exactly 8 and be done with getting materials ready at exactly 8:15 and then if you go one second past 9:00, they are focused on why they aren’t starting the activity, which in this case was math at 9. You can’t just set a schedule and not follow it.

Her son had everything ready for school at 8:10 and then didn’t know what to do until 8:15. She wanted to just start composition but he started with, no, composition starts at 8:15, not 8:10. Eventually from there it just went down hill as he was watching the clock for 9:00. Composition is challenging as it is and now we have a set time of when it starts and begins. He is completely stressed out and suddenly his behavior was declining as 9 approached and they had not finished what they started at 8:15. Can’t move on but must move forward. This was quite a delima and now he is banging his head and shaking his body up and down while screaming. Mom says, “They said put him on a schedule so I did, this was the worst ever.”

After taking a minute to cry and having her take a couple of deep breaths, she shared her story. Yes, he needs a schedule and wants it, but we have to give him something that won’t stress him out. You don’t want him watching the clock. Create a schedule that shows the agenda but don’t attach times to it. Make sure you include some breaks and lunch but don’t place any times. Create realistic items to complete and an order, but no times. If he starts something, he is not going to want to stop until it is finished. You may want to even create a schedule that he sees an agenda for the first half of the day and then you can adjust after lunch to create the rest of the day. He needs the structure but let’s not stress him out with times. Just list:

Prepare for class
Writing Lesson 1
Math Lesson 3

You will also want to create some type of plan for introducing change in plan. He needs a visual cue. Something that you can show him, a card with a particular picture or star, something that says things have changed. He needs to know that this symbol, card, visual cue shows that he has a change coming in the schedule and we need to prepare for it. That way if something comes up and you are going to not do Literature, but instead eat lunch because Writing and Math took too long, you can show the visual cue and give him a second to prepare for the change in schedule, then share what that change is. They like this. It helps them not stress over a change in schedule.

Wouldn’t we all like to know when something out of the ordinary is going to be thrown at us. None of us like when someone throws a dagger in our day, but for them it is like a bomb just blew up in their face.

Where do I start, I think my child has dyslexia?

Before we say to much, Your child can read, just in a different way.

This question comes up all the time. First off you have to know if your child truly has dyslexia and as a special educator, I can tell you that psychologists and teachers, including myself can not diagnose your child with dyslexia. The hard part is that many doctors will say they can’t diagnose and send you back to the school but there are some that will send you to a neurologist and they will do testing to determine diagnosis. I can give you a few warning signs to help you determine diagnosis.

Warning signs:
1. When they begin to read and someon is teaching them phonics they learn the sounds well but are unable to blend them. They will say /d/, /o/, /g/ and say it slow or fast and over and over but they can’t put it together. Someone ends up telling them it is dog.
2. Your child was unable to improve reading with phonics or even learn to read with phonics but they can read through sight words. This is because a child with dyslexia will learn to memorize what the word looks like. For instance dog, after they have been told and get to feel stupid will do their best to look at that word and memorize what it looks like but not the letters. They see the first letter d and then that it goes across and there is a dip in the word downward at the end. This is the same way they memorize all the sight words. This is why many of them are not caught until closer to 3rd, 4th, even 5th grade. They learn to cope and do ok. So lets talk about what you will see in the kids that have made it past K,1 without everyone pulling their hair out.
3. Spelling is atrocious. They struggle to spell because they have been learning to read visually as to what the word looks like not the letters. So this is frustrating. If they create a word that looks pretty well like the other word, that is a sign, but only if that word is in their sight word vocab.
4. When reading, usually around 4th grade, they hit a block and start skipping words that are long or filling in a word that makes since in context. This is a major warning sign. Sometimes they will fill in a word and see that it doesn’t make since and go back and fix it to a word that does make since, could be right, could be wrong.
5. They comprehend really well when someone reads the story to them. They are very good with comprehension usually.
6. When they start to read, they will many times give a deep breath out or something that shows they are tired before they even start.

Take these things and then add the usual strenghts for a child with dyslexia.
(usually strong in one of these areas)

Mechanical- take things apart and can put them back together, fixes things in creative ways that work, strong logic skills
Artistic- Paint, draw, fashion design, architecture, hair design, etc.
People skills- very sensitive, compassionate, think political, pastor, counselor, psychologist
Athletic- Really good at a sport
Intuition- strikes you that they can be so in tune with things
Musically gifted- they don’t read printed music, but they play by ear. Comes natural
3D visualization- they think in pictures. They can see things from a very different perspective visually.
Very curious- want to know the why for everything. (beyond 3 years old)
If you truly feel your child has dyslexia, skip this next section (scroll to the ***)

If you are reading this and you were sure you were right but don’t think so reading this then you can try some simple things that are more related to a students vision and issues going on there. Sometimes people will think that a child has dyslexia and they really don’t. If you are pretty certain they have dyslexia do not try anything from this next section, it WILL NOT WORK. These kids will sometimes respond to things like #1 colored overlays. These are what we use to use for overhead projectors to write on, but now we use powerpoint. Anyhow, they still sale them at office depot and such. The rose, purple, blue colors usually work best. Cut them down to smaller size for easier use in books. Have your child cover the pages they are attempting to read with these overlays. This lowers the contrast of what they are reading. Lowering the contrast makes it easier to read because it is the contrast that typically causes this population to suffer. #2 tracking skills, have them use an index card or ruler to follow line by line or even cut a hole out of the index card and let them only see one or two words at a time to read. #3 Vision Therapy. #4 Brain Gym Activities- helps create more connections between left and right side of the brain.

************Dyslexia Solutions***************

Children with dyslexia need to be taught reading differently. Phonics based programs will not work because they don’t have the essential tools they need for phonics to work and if you are at this point, you probably know they know the sounds, they just can’t do what they need to with them.

There was a great deal of research done a while back on reading where a couple of researchers developed a program. Their last names were Orton and Gillingham. The program they originally developed was Orton-Gilligham. You can google Orton-Gillingham and find a whole list of programs that have been adapted and based off of their practices. You can locate the original Orton-Gillingham program, but here is the list of some of the others.

Teach 1st
Barton Reading and Spelling
Alphabetic Phonics
Project Read

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This is a few of them. You can google any of them and find them and others. You can’t just have the program though. Whoever is working with your child needs to be well trained and using the program correctly. These programs have intensive training and if not used correctly, then they still won’t work. I should note that if you want to teach your child yourself, and not find someone to help you usng an Orton-illingham based program then you will want to go with the Barton Reading and Spelling because she sends you the training videos to watch and get yourself well trained to do it on your own. I wish I could give you a simpler solution, but this is the best solution. If you want to find a school that uses Orton-Gillingham because you have school choice, then after finding one that says they use it, ask if their teacher that they are assigned is certified for the Orton-Gillingham program being used. If not, they may not use it correctly and this won’t get you anywhere.

If your child has dyslexia, please don’t use phonics programs, they are good and will work with other kids but not them. I won’t list these, but if you are wandering about one and whether or not it is phonics based or orton-gillingham based, feel free to reply to this post and I will give you an answer.

Lynnette Crawley M.S. Ed

As an educational consultant, I work with families, students, adults, parents, teachers, schools and corporations in relationship to the many disabilities affecting their lives. Many times all anyone needs is a little coaching, direction or tools to close the gap between where they are and where they should be. Making progress is not good enough. We must be closing the gap. Email:

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