Dyslexia: How Do I Teach This Child?

This is often confusing for parents and some educators . . . I present many workshops to teachers and teach college classes to special-education teachers about this confusing subject. Simply put, dyslexia involves much difficulty reading and spelling. Dysgraphia involves much difficulty writing.

Many children/teenagers with dyslexia often have an accompanying dysgraphia. They write almost no sentences from memory, because their right, visual hemisphere is not storing words efficiently. (Copying a sentence is not considered writing.) They have to think about the directionality of the letters, rather than the content of the writing.

Kids with dyslexia almost always also have dysgraphia. However, many kids who do not have dyslexia, and in fact, may read way above grade level, have just the dysgraphia.2 Be assured, this issue is also easy to correct at home.

How Can I Work With My Child at Home?

The approach I have taken to get children past the learning “block” of dyslexia, is twofold:

1. Some type of “midline” brain therapy. While NILD, NACD are some other midline therapies to explore, I use Brain Integration Therapy, a very inexpensive, 20-minutes-a-day home therapy program designed to eliminate the midline as a problem and restore proper eye tracking, encourage better recognition of letter sounds, correct writing reversals, and enable the child to store words in his/her right-brain, long-term memory.

2. In addition to this therapy, I use an intensive phonemic awareness and decoding program daily. For my classroom use, I created the Right Brain Reading Program, which is an Orton Gillingham-based phonics and spelling method. This tool can be purchased or can be easily made at home by the parent.

If your child has symptoms of dyslexia, you have found that just having him read to you more isn’t helping. You’ve also found that regular phonics programs don’t work, because no matter how much the child practices, he can’t remember the sounds of letters. Many times he sounds out the pieces of a word: f-a-t, but he cannot put them into a whole word (fat). Sight words are his enemy, as the child tries to sound out each sight word (what becomes a laborious w-h-a-t). Curiously, the child’s comprehension is great—once he’s struggled through a passage.

By the time I see parents in my consultation practice, they have given up on spelling, and the only writing the child does involves copying sentences. To help a child who is facing this massive struggle learn to read, brain integration therapy exercises and once-a week “re-trainings,” which use physical movements to “re-connect” the two hemispheres, is the first step I show the parents.

Then I show them the Right Brain Reading approach. This is the most fun. I regularly can get a dyslexic 10-year-old who is a non-reader (can’t even spell his last name) reading eight sight words (e.g., many, they, city, what) and spelling them from memory in just a half-hour, using his strong photographic memory. The child’s eyes light up, because he suddenly feels so smart . . . and it didn’t feel like work at all.

The mom usually has tears in her eyes by this time, as she sees her child write a whole sentence from memory after just one session, using words that he couldn’t even read when he first came in! Of course, we still need to work on the phonics and phonemic awareness (also using right-brain strategies to make it easier), but now the child has faith in himself—he can become a reader!

This method of intensive phonemic training plus midline exercises takes about forty-five minutes to an hour a day of one-on-one tutoring but pays off handsomely in its results. And the great thing is that parents do not have to spend much money or have someone else tutor their child. They just learn to teach using different teaching strategies and administer the Quick Score Reading Test every four months, to make sure that the child is making progress.

You will be surprised by how easy it is to achieve improvement equivalent to a two-year growth in reading skills—in just a year’s time—by investing just one hour a day in reading this new way. This method works with first-graders to eighth-graders who have dyslexia.

Are there other proven intensive phonics programs that work with dyslexia? Yes. This is just the least expensive program. For a list of some of these other good programs, just email me at craft@ecentral.com.

So, go wild and invest in some colored markers and pictures, and have fun teaching your child how to use his/her powerful right brain to make the learning process easier. It doesn’t have to be so hard for the child, nor expensive for the parent, to teach a child with dyslexia to be a good reader or writer, in my experience.3

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