What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is an unexpected difficulty mastering literacy skills such as reading, writing, spelling, expository writing and/or arithmetic. People with dyslexia have normal or better intelligence.

  • Dyslexia is a neurological trait and most often is genetic in origin.
  • It is NOT the result of “not trying”, or attention deficit disorder. However ADHD may be present.
  • Dyslexia is NOT the result of social/emotional problems. However, social/emotional problems may result from frustration at school.
  • People with dyslexia often have strengths in areas such as art, drama, sports, music, science, creative writing, mathematics, mechanics, computers and aviation.
  • Many high achieving people are dyslexic – especially those who have had appropriate specialized instruction.
  • Appropriate remedial skill teaching is effective at all ages.
  • Dyslexia is included in the laws that cover special education: Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 Definition in Part A, General Provisions U.S.C. 1401. Definitions.
  • The scientific definition of dyslexia may be found at the International Dyslexia Association/ National Institutes of Health Definition

Common Characteristics

  • inaccurate reading
  • poor spelling
  • trouble “sounding out” words
  • slow reading
  • guessing on multisyllable words
  • dislike of reading
  • dislike of school
  • reversals and/or transpositions of letters, syllables and/or numerals
  • poor reading comprehension, especially in complex materials
  • labored, hard to read handwriting
  • trouble learning the alphabet and basic math facts
  • trouble writing school papers
  • difficulty organizing ideas and details to write and/or speak
  • difficulty following directions
  • disappointing test scores
  • trouble learning grammar
  • low self esteem
  • relatives with similar problems

(Not all characteristics apply to every person – look for a cluster)

 What is Orton-Gillingham?

Orton-Gillingham is an approach, not a method. This means the O-G practitioner is flexible in the use of materials and the sequence of instruction. Classic Orton-Gillingham is an alternative, research-based, reading, writing and spelling curriculum designed specifically for dyslexic readers and others struggling with literacy skills.

  • Validated by scientific reading research sponsored by The National Institutes of Health and the National Academy of Sciences
  • Systematic – synthetic phonics emphasizes the alphabetic principle; phonemic awareness; phoneme segmentation and blending; reading comprehension; and reading fluency
  • Flexible and individualized – diagnostic/prescriptive teaching enables the tutor to adapt curricular elements to the needs of each student.
  • Effective for all ages – a skilled Orton-Gillingham tutor can help students achieve their potential and succeed in general education classes from grade school through college.
  • Success oriented – materials are presented in a direct instruction, multisensory format. Elements are introduced sequentially with cumulative review.
  • Skill building – starting with basics, the student moves toward mastery of intermediate, then advanced elements of written language. Reading and spelling accuracy improves, often dramatically, as students learn to utilize letter-sound correspondences, syllable division patterns and spelling generalizations to decode and spell words.
  • Integrated – reading and spelling are taught together using visual, auditory and kinesthetic modalities simultaneously.
  • Developed collaboratively – by a neuroscientist, a psychologist, a teacher and a circle of their colleagues. As an open source system, O-G is still evolving.
  • Adaptable – for small groups.

Several programs and materials adapted from Classic Orton-Gillingham principles are: Lexia Reading, Alphabetic Phonics, Language!, Project Read, Recipe for Reading, Slingerland, S.P.I.R.E., and Wilson Reading Program.

Most phonics-based, remedial programs used in schools are NOT aligned with the Orton-Gillingham approach.