A Series on Dyslexia – Part IV: Offering Hope

Many parents wonder, how they can possibly be hopeful after their child receives such a diagnosis.  I can only recommend what I did with my son and subsequently what I now do with my brilliant students, who just happen to have dyslexia.

  1. Have faith in yourself and in your child. Be courageous and teach your child to be the same. (Dr. Armin Theis, Matthew’s neuropsychologist, advised me that while being sad about my son’s deep dyslexia was perfectly understandable, I needed to move forward in this manner.)
  2. Embrace the philosophy of Elizabeth Foss (2003) which is: know your student, honor the knowing, and educate from the knowing.
  3. Reading instruction must be highly individualized and tailored to meet the specific needs of the student.
  4. Not all reading programs are equal. Research has proven that reading instruction must be systematic, sequential, explicit, and multisensory.  Programs that were created based on this research include: Orton-Gillingham, Wilson, SPIRE, Bradley, and Right Brained Phonics. 
  5. Not all reading instruction is equal.  Research has proven (again and again) that both skilled instruction and early intervention make a significant difference. Therefore, reading instruction should be delivered by a specialist or someone with the appropriate skill set. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Remember ineffective instruction not only wastes precious time, but is also frustrating for the dyslexic, causing the child to lose hope in himself and his abilities.
  6. Phonological awareness is critical to success.  Be sure that gaps are addressed. A specialist can implement practices easily and effectively.
  7. Daily observations and informal assessments must continually inform and drive your instruction.  Thus, frequently tweaking the instructional strategies and approaches ensures the student is making consistent progress.
  8. Dyslexic children may struggle with organization so try to provide consistency in your schedules and routines. We made a weekly calendar for my son with pictures of each day’s special event so he would know what to prepare for that day and how to dress appropriately.  I also made a Daily Work Schedule so he could check off each assignment and instructional session. 
  9. Embrace technology for both reading and for writing. We subscribed to Learning Ally and all of my son’s content area textbooks were read to him. We also purchased Dragon Dictate so his stories could be dictated. (He was an incredible story teller!)  Why prevent your child from writing incredible stories? 

Next week, we will explore a few more of these recommendations…