How do schools help children with dyslexia?
Depending on your child’s age and the severity of her difficulty, the school will recommend a specific intervention. Interventions range from special help from your child’s classroom teacher to small group or individual help from a teacher trained in special methods of teaching reading.
An appropriate remedial reading intervention for a child with dyslexia includes direct instruction in learning the code of sounds and letters. This is often done through the use of a special program such as the Orton-Gillingham program. The Orton-Gillingham program, and similar programs such as the Wilson System, Project Read, and Alphabetic Phonics, offer direct, intensive instruction in phonics and spelling. These approaches are ideal for students with dyslexia because they are multisensory approaches that offer children opportunities to learn through seeing, hearing, and touching. They also utilize a large amount of repetition that helps children with dyslexia learn.
In addition to providing a remedial program to help a child with dyslexia catch up in reading, schools can also offer a number of accommodations that help a child keep up with material being presented in class. For instance, a third-grade student reading at a first-grade level may use audio tapes of a third-grade novel so that she can participate in class discussions about the novel. A child with weak handwriting and spelling may be allowed to dictate a story to a teacher or aide who will write it for her. This allows the child to express her ideas without having to struggle with her weak areas.
What can parents do?
Children with reading difficulties often feel confused about why they are struggling. Your child may even fear that he is “stupid” or that he will never learn to read. It is important to talk with him so that he understands that very intelligent people can have reading difficulties and that you and his school are working together to help him.
Interventions or individual plans work best when teachers and parents work together to help children. It is important to share with your child’s teacher what you see at home. It is also important to help your child complete any extra practice activities that her teacher suggests.
If you are concerned that your child is not making enough progress with the program that has been put in place for him, do not hesitate to check in with your child’s team of specialists. Although you will have regularly scheduled meetings, you can request a meeting at any time to discuss your child’s progress.
Hearing stories and information read aloud is critical for children with reading difficulties. While they may struggle to gain information from reading, they can learn new vocabulary words and information and explore new ideas when you read aloud to them. Make sure to talk together about the books you read as well.