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Dyslexia Questions Orton-Gillingham Questions

What is a language-based learning disability?

Here at Edwards Orton-Gillingham, we prefer to call this a language-based learning difference. These differences refer to the understanding and application of written and spoken language. An individual with a language-based learning difference/disability may struggle with the development of reading, writing, or spelling.

Language-based learning differences don’t have anything to do with an individual’s IQ. In fact, many people diagnosed with a language-based learning difference have extremely high intelligence.

Approximately 15-20% of the population has a language-based learning difference or learning disability, the most common of which is dyslexia.

What is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a neurobiological difference that affects males and females equally, as well as people who speak languages other than English or that come from different socioeconomic or ethnic backgrounds.

Dyslexia is the most common language-based learning disability. Although here at Edwards Orton-Gillingham, we refer to it as a learning ‘difference,’ it’s typically referred to as a learning disability because dyslexia can make it very difficult for a student to succeed academically in the typical instructional environment.

In its more severe forms, dyslexia may qualify a student for special education, special accommodations, or extra support services.

Individuals with dyslexia typically struggle with oral and written language. More specifically, someone with dyslexia may have difficulty identifying, separating, processing, decoding, or manipulating sounds of letters or clusters within words making it harder for them to read, spell, and write with ease. The severity of dyslexia varies by individual. Because it’s a difference and not a deficit, dyslexia doesn’t have to be ‘cured,’ but with the right educational approach, individuals can overcome the challenges dyslexia presents.

Is dyslexia hereditary?

Dyslexia is hereditary. It’s a genetic, neurobiological condition that affects parts of the brain responsible for language, inherited from parents that also have the condition.

Even in situations where young children or adolescents have dyslexia but their parents don’t, remember that it all depends on whether or not the language-based learning difference or learning disability was diagnosed. Many individuals, especially older adults, may have lived with a learning disability but never had the opportunity to benefit from the right diagnosis or approach to help them properly learn.

How common is dyslexia?

Estimates state that dyslexia affects between 5-10% percent of the population. Some speculate it may affect up to 20% of the population. However, as symptoms range from mild to severe and many individuals are never diagnosed, it’s difficult to obtain an exact number. But, dyslexia is one of the most common language-based learning difficulties and learning disabilities, affecting 70-80% of those who struggle with reading.

Dyslexia is a spectrum. The impact that dyslexia has is different for each individual, highly dependent on its severity and the effectiveness of instruction or remediation (this is where the Orton-Gillingham Approach comes in).

How is dyslexia diagnosed?

The problems associated with dyslexia are language-based, not visual, and not related to cognitive skills or intelligence. Phonological processing problems are the paramount feature of dyslexia.

Although there are many signs that an individual has dyslexia, only a neuropsychologist or educational psychologist can officially diagnose someone with a learning disability such as dyslexia. That being said, if you’re concerned a student, child, or someone you know may have dyslexia, some of the most common signs may be:

  • Talking later than most children
  • Trouble with word recall or storytelling
  • Difficulty decoding single words
  • Problems with letter or number reversal
  • ADHD
  • Inability to rhyme
  • Problems with sequencing, sound, syllables, or the order of operations

If you notice someone struggling with the aforementioned skills or other related literacy learning skills, make sure to consult a professional who can help.

Although dyslexia is a medically diagnosed learning disability, it’s the only one that’s educationally remediated. This means that individuals with dyslexia won’t need prescription medicine to learn to read. Instead, careful instruction with the right approach (like Orton-Gillingham) is the solution. Although dyslexia can’t be ‘cured,’ individuals with this learning difference can go on to be effective readers, writers, and speakers when taught using the right approach.

What are the effects of dyslexia?

Although dyslexia is a language-based learning difference, it can affect individuals beyond just struggling with literacy. Learning disabilities can produce some unfortunate social and emotional effects, especially in children or adolescents.

Because communication is such an integral part of life, anyone who struggles with language-based learning differences or learning disability can feel isolated, ashamed, and suffer from low-self esteem, especially if they struggle to effectively communicate with others.

Those who suffer from a learning disability that remains undiagnosed may worry they are stupid, lazy, or incapable. Unfortunately, without the right diagnosis or instruction, it’s easy for individuals with dyslexia, especially younger children to feel frustrated, or hate school. This is why properly diagnosing individuals with dyslexia, followed by educating their teachers and parents on how to effectively instruct them is key.

How can you help an individual with dyslexia?

As a parent or teacher, ensure that any warning signs of language-based learning difficulties are spotted as early as possible so a proper diagnosis can follow. Making sure appropriate assessments are in place to spot these learning difficulties, especially in young children, is important. Parents, teachers, and administrators should work together on this.

Understanding that an individual with dyslexia is not lazy, stupid, or smart is also key. Using a Structured Literacy™ approach such as Orton-Gillingham, educators can organize literacy concepts and multisensory instruction to facilitate their students’ progress when it comes to the science of reading. Using the right dyslexia reading tools and teaching strategies for students with dyslexia, educators can assist students with dyslexia on the path towards literacy.

What is the science of reading?

Reading is not just literary fun. It’s an actual science, with distinct parts that come together to form success at the skill. The science of reading is combining word recognition with language comprehension and using research-validated ideas and approaches to impart this information.

Explaining how phonetics, phoneme awareness, morphology, orthography, semantics, and syntax contribute to literacy is all part of the science of reading. Covering every layer of language organization with the application of these skills through daily reading and writing will help individuals improve their literacy skills.

What is The Orton-Gillingham Approach?

Orton-Gillingham is a highly structured approach used to teach reading, spelling, and writing to all students, specifically those with dyslexia.

Developed by Dr. Samuel Orton, Anna Gillingham, and Bessy Stillman, the core focus of this proven approach is to teach reading and spelling in a logical, systemic, multisensory, and sequential way that meets the unique needs of the individual learner.

By using the visual, auditory, and kinesthetic centers of the brain, Orton-Gillingham aims to ‘rewire’ the neurological connections in the language centers of the dyslexic brain. For more information on the approach and how it can help students (especially those with dyslexia or other language-based learning difficulties) click here.

Who were Dr. Samuel Orton and Anna Gillingham?

Dr. Samuel Orton and Anna Gillingham are responsible for the creation of the Orton-Gillingham Approach.

Samuel Torrey Orton (1879-1948), was a neuropsychiatrist and pathologist who dedicated his career to researching language-based learning and processing difficulties. Using the science of reading, he researched educational methods to combat neuroscientific learning struggles, applying them to children with dyslexia in the 1920s.

Anna Gillingham (1878-1963), was a psychologist and teacher who focused on language. She helped Dr. Orton create a science-based approach to help children better their literacy skills by both instructing educators and publishing key materials.

What is phonological awareness and why is it important?

Phonological awareness refers to the sound structures of oral speech and how they are manipulated. Phonological awareness encompasses things like rhyming, recognizing syllables in words, and alliteration that will later assist children when learning how to read. On a more scientific level, phonological awareness leads to phonemic awareness, where kids begin to recognize individual sounds within words, one step closer to reading.

Phonological awareness is crucial for reading development. If children don’t learn these sound structures, it will be harder for them to decode words when reading or spelling later on.

What is Structured Literacy™ instruction?

According to the International Dyslexia Association (IDA), Structured Literacy™ is a term used to encompass both the structure of language itself as well as the structure of the instructional approaches to facilitate the literacy learning process. It refers to both the content as well as the principles of the instruction. This type of instruction is not only apt for general learners but can be especially efficient for those struggling with language-based learning difficulties like dyslexia or learning English as a second language.

The Structured Literacy™ approach focuses on things like phoneme and morpheme awareness, phoneme-grapheme correspondences, orthography, syntax, and semantics to help with the evolution of multisensory structured language learning. The Orton-Gillingham Approach uses techniques such as these, effectively falling under the Structured Literacy™ umbrella. Note that our 30-hour course guides trainees towards becoming certified Structured Literacy™ teachers from the International Dyslexia Association.

How does Orton-Gillingham help individuals with dyslexia?

The Orton-Gillingham Approach helps students with dyslexia to better recognize and organize all the elements of language. The individual focus also gives learners the extra attention they may need, leading to increased linguistic competence and confidence.

Multisensory teaching concepts help to connect different areas of the brain that may need additional stimulation in order to process language.

By using visual, kinesthetic, and auditory teaching techniques, a student with dyslexia can see, write, and listen to the way a letter or word sounds, helping them to better learn and recall when reading, writing, and spelling. This approach, which focuses on all the senses, can show students how to decode patterns in words on their own, all things which contribute to being successful in literacy.

Who benefits from learning through the Orton-Gillingham Approach?

All students can benefit from the Orton-Gillingham Approach; individuals with dyslexia or other language-based learning difficulties need it and may not learn to read without it.

This cognitive and emotionally sound approach with decades of successful history helps students better connect with language and words for an improved learning experience.

The science of reading is complex, which is why Orton-Gillingham focuses on structured and multisensory teachings that help students make better connections to the structures of the language. It’s the structured, simultaneous integration of the senses that rewires specific areas of the brain that connect print, sound, and meaning that will help every and any student learn to read.

Using the Orton-Gillingham Approach, teachers will feel confident, empowered, and proud that they’re truly making a difference in the lives of many students who may not have learned to read as effectively otherwise.

What is a dyslexia specialist?

Certified by the International Dyslexia Association or the Academy of Orton-Gillingham, dyslexia specialists (also referred to as dyslexia interventionists) can tutor individuals at any age diagnosed with dyslexia. A dyslexia specialist, using the right dyslexia reading resources, will provide a more individualized, multisensory teaching approach to help students develop literacy skills.

More specifically, a dyslexia specialist is someone who’s had 60 hours of official Orton-Gillingham training, 100 hours of practicum, and has been through a vigorous application-vetting and certification process.

Edwards Orton-Gillingham training courses are divided into three different levels to ensure teachers can best meet the needs of dyslexic learners and individuals with language-based learning needs. If you want to become a dyslexia specialist (interventionist), you’ll need to start by taking a dyslexia specialist course, like the Edwards-Orton Gillingham 60-hour course.

In order to become a certified Orton-Gillingham dyslexia specialist and tutor per the International Dyslexia Association, see our training page or 60-hour course page.

Can I get certified at Edwards-Orton Gillingham online?

We offer Orton-Gillingham training, courses, and certification information for becoming a dyslexia therapist or specialist online and in-person for both individuals or teams. Once you complete one of our training courses and meet eligibility requirements, you can apply for certification through the AOGPE.

What is The Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators?

Established by Founding Fellows, the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators (AOGPE) certifies and accredits educators in the Orton-Gillingham approach.

The Academy certifies trained individuals at the Classroom Educator, Associate, Certified, and Fellow levels, eliminating any conflict of interest that training and certification within the same organization could create.

What is The International Dyslexia Association?

The International Dyslexia Association is a non-profit, global organization dedicated to providing the public with resources and information about dyslexia. The association helps and serves anyone with dyslexia, as well as their families, educators, and any other professionals within the language-based learning difficulty field.

The International Dyslexia Association also certifies accredited trainees to be Structured Literacy™ teachers, Dyslexia Specialists, and Dyslexia Therapists after completing accompanying training courses at Edwards-Orton Gillingham.

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