What programs are best for helping a child overcome dyslexia? Which program should you choose, or NOT choose? Picking a program that will actually work for your child is challenging, but you can choose wisely by understanding these different types of programs.
Teaching Reading to children with dyslexia through phonemic awareness programs at home or in school is critical for overcoming true dyslexia. You may be confused by the different ways people recommend overcoming dyslexia, but how you approach your child’s difficulty should be based upon your child’s particular areas of deficit. No single program is going to be “best” for every child.
Reading programs can teach in several different ways. Some teach “the rules”, others teach by “word families”, and some by whole word recognition. Which is best?
Learning by whole word recognition is the least likely to be successful for children with true dyslexia. There are not many whole word recognition remediation programs, but one that I consider “whole word” is Reading Recovery, which many schools use, but which is often ineffective for children with true or severe dyslexia.
“The goal of “Reading Recovery” is to help children acquire efficient patterns of learning to enable them to work at the average level of their classmates and to continue to progress satisfactorily in their own school’s instructional program.”
Reading Recovery was the first program used to try to intervene my son’s reading difficulties, but it was totally ineffective. Reading Recovery was Jenny’s child’s first program, but the program was totally ineffective for her son too.
Simply put, for children who are diagnosed with true phonemic awareness deficits (dyslexia), Reading Recovery does not seem to work effectively.
Teaching by “word families”, is a good variation from many programs, but is generally insufficient as a single means of remediation. Teaching through word families alone can cause carry over of spellings to words with similar sounds, but different spellings.
The “best”, most universal form, of remediation is through “the rules” governing our language and by teaching phonemic awareness explicitly. Beginning with phonemic awareness, the recognition that each word is made up of separate sounds called “phonemes”, this type of instruction tries to teach the child language as it relates to printed text from the most basic element up through complex, multisyllable words. Specific, sequential, multisensory instruction that spells out every detail for reading decoding and encoding (which is spelling) is covered by every comprehensive Orton-Gillingham reading program.
Which program you should begin with will be determined by your child’s individual needs. You’ll need to determine, or know, if your child has phonemic awareness issues. You can get an idea of which approach you may need to take by
asking your child how many “sounds” he hears in certain words.. for example “short” has 3 sounds.. /sh/, /or/, /t/ — that is a tough one though. A simple one would be “see”… it has two sounds.. /s/ and /ee/ or maybe “dog” having 3 sounds.. /d/, /o/, /g/. The key is whether your child can determine the specific spoken sounds in each word in order to sound out words when reading or to know which letters to write when spelling.
Because auditory issues can be significant, If your child has little phonemic awareness, I’d lean towards **Earobics or **Fast ForWord Literacy to begin with. Be aware though, if your child has difficulty with auditory issues, he may find these programs very difficult (mine did) and may not like the program initially. You might have to set up some sort of reward system for completion of an activity or certain amount of time. (For example, If you work on the program for 20 minutes, I’ll read a book to you). Fast ForWord Literacy is also very difficult to come by on the open market and generally provided through trained providers. Thus, it can be expensive to get your hands on a copy of the program for independent home use. You may prefer to go to a paid provider anyway because they are trained to work with your child and the program in order to provide the best outcomes.
After the phonemic awareness issues are addressed, whether by using a program like Earobics, or through individualized therapy, you should be freer to choose from among various remediation programs. You may also want to read about the Orton-Gillingham methodology and Orton-Gillingham reading programs before you delve into program selection further.
Depending upon your particular circumstances, you may want to use private services, pursue services for your child at school, or help your child at home. If you plan to do it yourself, check out recommended Reading Programs for Home Use. These programs are fairly inexpensive, based upon Orton-Gillingham methods, but depend upon your own dedication to providing the program. In some cases, you have to create or buy your own supporting materials. These programs are all viable and usable by anyone who can read, comprehend, and follow directions.
If you will pursue services from another provider, you can familiarize yourself with various programs at on our “Proven Packaged Reading Programs” page. These programs are more expensive, CAN be done at home, are complete, comprehensive, and have been proven to work.
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