October is Dyslexia Awareness Month – so we continue our blog series exploring more specifics about the condition.

This week, we feature a Q&A interview with Abby Klein,  Director of Academic Services at the Learning Center @ Wright Psychology. Abby is a Certified International Dyslexia Association (IDA) and International Multisensory Structured Language Education Council (IMSLEC) Accredited Orton-Gillingham Teacher and Certified Barton Instructor.

Also, be sure to check out part 1 of this story, last week’s post where we spoke with Dr. Maggie Wright on some of the basics of dyslexia warning signs and evaluation.

Credit: Heidi and Me. Our Neurodiversity Journey (On Facebook)

What happens once a child’s been diagnosed with dyslexia? What can parents expect?

Abby Klein: Once your child has been diagnosed with dyslexia, educate yourself and then explain it to your child in a way they can understand. There are so many great resources out there today that can help facilitate the conversation. There’s a meme online that I really like that emphasizes your child is still your child – no new diagnosis or “label” can change that.

Next, I encourage parents to find an instructor who teaches Orton-Gillingham, the “Gold-Standard” or an Orton-Gillingham-based program for dyslexia intervention. Parents can expect for intervention to take time.  Intervention is not a cure; it’s ongoing throughout your child’s life.

What intervention options are available? 

Abby Klein: Well-known Orton-Gillingham Systems include the following (if students are ready for OG):

  • Original Orton-Gillingham (The Gold-Standard)
  • Barton Reading & Spelling System
  • Spire
  • Alphabetic Phonics
  • Slingerland (classroom use)
  • Project Read
  • Language!
  • Wilson
  • MaxScholar

If students are not ready for OG (the psychologist who conducted your evaluation can tell you), there are two programs to improve their skills: Start with Foundation in Sounds or Lindamood-Bell LiPS program.

Another resource, Structure Word Inquiry (SWI), investigates the internal structures of words to find an understanding and an explanation for the ways words are spelled.  They look for the meaningful structures in words— the bases, the prefixes, and the suffixes— and for meaningful connections between words that share historical (or etymological) relationships.

What should parents look for as they explore their options? 

Abby Klein: Parents should look for the right program to meet their child’s specific needs, the right teacher who is trained in the method, and the right setting (one-on-one is ideal; or small group). The right intensity level is at least 2 hours per week, and the duration of intervention should last 2-3 years, depending on how your child masters each concept.

How do these interventions work? 

Abby Klein: The Orton-Gillingham approach is language-based, multisensory, structured, sequential, cumulative, cognitive and flexible.  This technique is based on the idea that when children learn through three major pathways to the brain — visual, auditory, and kinesthetic— they learn more than when they are taught through only one pathway. Commit to one program.  Your child should not be exposed to two different ways of teaching reading and spelling at the same time.

What tips do you have for parents in working with their child’s school/teacher? 

Abby Klein: Set up a time to meet with your child’s school/teacher to let them know your child learns differently. There is a list of accommodations your child will need.  We can provide the list to take to your child’s school.  Open communication is key when working with the school.

Are there any books/podcasts/resources you recommend to parents about dyslexia?

Abby Klein: Watch Susan Barton’s videos on her website: https://www.dys-add.com/ or Susan’s Facebook page

There are so many good books I’d recommend. Here’s a pretty exhaustive list:

  • Overcoming Dyslexiaby Dr. Sally Shaywitz, M.D.
  • The Dyslexia Empowerment Planby Ben Foss
  • Essentials of Dyslexia Assessment and Interventionby Nancy Mather and Barbara J. Wendling
  • DyslexiaLand: A field guide for parents of children with dyslexiaby Cheri Rae
  • Basic Facts About Dyslexia & Other Reading Problemsby Louisa Cook Moats & Karen E. Dakin
  • Dyslexia Advocate: How to advocate for a child with dyslexia within the public education systemby Kelli Sandman-Hurley
  • The Dyslexic Advantage- Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslexicby Brock Eide, M. D. M.A. and Fernette Eide, M.D.
  • The Source for Dyslexia and Dysgraphiaby Regina Richards
  • Straight Talk about Readingby Susan Hall and Louisa Moats
  • Dyslexia: Theory & Practice of Remedial Instructionby Diana Brewster Clark & Joanna Kellog Uhry
  • About Dyslexia: Unraveling the Mythby Patricia Vail
  • Mothers Talk about Learning Disabilities: Personal Feelings, Practical Adviceby Elizabeth Weiss