Our Mission

Our posts to this blog will provide you with accurate information based on what research has shown us. Part of our mission here at the NOW! company is to help spread the word about what research science has shown about the causes of reading difficulties and what is possible for those that struggle to read.

We want this blog to be a place to access important information. We also want people to be able to find empowerment and hope here. Let’s face it, people who struggle with reading difficulties are more often met with discouragement and a frustrating lack of information and solutions. We are ready to change that, not with false hope or misleading stories, but with what we know research science has shown us.

With that in mind, our posts to this blog will provide you with accurate information based on what research has shown us. We will do so in a way that is accessible to people who are not research scientists, because most of us are not research scientists. While the NOW! Team does have professionals in multiple disciplines, is comprised mostly of educators who care deeply about seeing our children advance academically and intellectually. We want this blog to provide information that will serve as a useful tool to you in making decisions about education, whether you are a parent, a teacher, a student, or just a concerned citizen. Additionally, we want to share our community involvement, items you can be using to assist yourself and your students, or promotion and support of good happenings in our community. Thanks for joining us on this journey, and let us know if there is anything you want to know.

The NOW! Programs team - info@nowprograms.com

What do you do when a person struggles to read?

June 28

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What do you do when a person struggles to read?

Most of us would say that the answer is obvious: Give them more practice.

Maybe we should give them phonics instruction that is more engaging, and then give them more practice. Maybe we should give them enriched vocabulary instruction, and then give them more practice.

Yet, this isn’t what science tells us. Research into how language skills develop shows us that there is a direct link between the strength of spoken language skills and reading fluency. These spoken language skills that allow us to effectively process language have to be strong for reading skills to develop. These are also the skills that are most often overlooked by reading instruction, because most curriculum developers assume they are already present.

These spoken language skills include multi-sensory integration. When it comes to language, three senses have to work together: What you see, what you hear, and what you feel when you move your mouth. We did a post on this once before, which you can read here. If these three senses are not solidly connected, reading skills will develop less efficiently, making reading harder.

Phonological awareness is something that many teachers and reading experts are talking about these days. Without the whole host of processing skills that exist under the umbrella of phonological awareness, then reading and spelling will be more labored. These skills include the ability to break words up into individual sounds, recognize even subtle changes in those sounds (“Is the word ‘free’ or ‘three?'”), and sequence them properly, among others. This is distinct from phonemic awareness, which many schools and reading curricula seek to improve, but is only a small piece to the broader necessary skill set.

Even small weaknesses in these skills can make reading that much more difficult. Ever know a student who could read, but they just didn’t like to? While there can be a number of reasons for this, mild weaknesses in early language skills can be one root cause.

It’s a good thing people know all of this about language and reading, though. It has allowed for the development of very effective forms of reading instruction that give the brain the types of exercises it needs to build these early language skills, then quickly apply them to reading and spelling. Doing the proper types of activities often enough, for a long enough period of time, in the proper order, and for the proper duration allow for building reading skills relatively quickly and very effectively.

If your child reads slowly or has trouble sounding out words, or just plain hates to read, it could be because of an early language skill weakness. For more information about how NOW! Programs™ build these necessary skills, email us at info@nowprograms.com, or visit our website at www.nowprograms.com.

Dispelling Dyslexia Myths – a medical endeavor that should begin with Pediatricians?

December 07

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Published by Tim Conway, Ph.D

Given that Developmental Dyslexia and a Specific Learning Disability with Impairment in Reading are now accurately classified as “Neurodevelopmental Disorders”, this helps highlight that they are of a medical origin and not caused by educational issues. Poor phonological awareness and the subsequent difficulty learning to read, despite adequate intelligence and opportunity, is most likely due to a genetic predisposition for learning difficulties. It is believed to most likely be due to inefficiently wired neurons in the left temporal, parietal, frontal and/or sensory motor strip of the brain – all of which are believed to have happened by the 6th month of gestation (before childbirth; see Galaburda, et al. 2006). Could Pediatricians be the first to explain these scientific dyslexia facts or #DyslexiaScience to families?

Since there is such a wide variation of estimates on how many children are affected by Developmental Dyslexia, ranging 1:5 to 1:20, let’s say it’s only 1 in 10 for the sake of a conservative argument. A typical pediatrician’s office that treats 100 patients per day would have the opportunity to inform 10 patients with dyslexia (or predisposition for dyslexia) each day of the medical, neurobiological facts about dyslexia. Even showing families a basic figure, like the one published by an eminent dyslexia researcher (see Ramus, et al., 2004 figure below), could help families begin to understand the true medical and neurodevelopmental nature of dyslexia. Could such clear and basic neurobiological information help parents be less likely to believe the rampant myths of dyslexia and the countless well-intentioned, but gravely misinformed opinions of friends, family, coworkers, neighbors and others who are not medically trained to know the clear differences between well-established, scientific facts and inaccurate myths? aaeaaqaaaaaaaafzaaaajdhmzdjlntq5lti5odytndg0ys1imzvklwy3mzu0yjqyn2eyng

What if pediatricians could provide basic risk factors or warning signs to watch for at each age of life? Would that help families know when and why to seek evidence-based assessment and treatment services? Could knowing even basic neurological soft signs empower parents to disregard woefully inaccurate information about dyslexia, such as the “Wait and see” myth? Or the “He might catch up later” myth? Or the myth that “boys always learn to read later than girls,” or the “Your just being overly concerned, he’ll read when he’s ready” myth, or the myth that “reading just has not clicked yet?” These myths go on and on, and are a sign that the teacher or individual has little to no idea how children really do learn to read, and instead think it only comes from imparting the correct knowledge, or it is some kind of magical event that occurs via some unknown method, event, or proper birthday. Could families benefit from knowing risk factors like these?

Would families even be receptive to knowing how reading skills are typically developed for children who do NOT struggle to learn to read? What if they knew that typical readers learn from a very specific set of multisensory experiences, and not from random or tangential multisensory experiences, such as shaping words with modeling clay, finger movements in the air, tapping arms or shaking legs, tracing sandpaper letters, or even walking and hopping on large chalk letters? What if parents really understood the science of how reading typically develops for children? aaeaaqaaaaaaaajyaaaajdg5zgyynjuyltcxzgutndc4mc1hnmjkltazotrmnzg5ota5zg aaeaaqaaaaaaaadraaaajgi2nja1mgu5ltnjymqtndrhos05zmq4lteymjewmdhkzti2nq

Would families then be more likely to seek services earlier? Would they be better equipped to identify which services are untested “guestimations” of how to teach reading, or are inefficient compensatory “strategy” approaches, rather than well-researched, highly effective, scientifically tested methods with known typical outcomes for any child with dyslexia? Could Pediatricians help families understand that prevention of reading difficulties via evidence-based methods truly provide the best outcomes for the child, family and school? Would families want to know the following NICHD research outcomes that showed that the reading difficulties associated with dyslexia or LD are highly preventable via early intervention at age 5-years old? The phonological awareness deficits that interfere with accurately learning to rhyme, perceiving all of the sounds or changes of sounds in a word and learning how to sound out words can be greatly improved in Kindergarten. Would such medical research help families avoid falling prey to the myriad of untested, unproven so-called “interventions” that truly do not work without 3-5 years of memorization and, even then, do not close the gap between a child’s intelligence and their language and academic skills? aaeaaqaaaaaaaalfaaaajdk3mwfmothiltqxmzgtndc0mi04ntuxltniody3nwu5mdmxza

Perhaps the challenges families face are much more complex than a Pediatrician has time to explain during a brief medical exam visit? Perhaps this information is just not that important enough to share in every Pediatrician’s office world wide (although there is scientific evidence that nearly all languages have a degree of dyslexia or learning disabilities in reading) in order to guide parents to accurate diagnosis, services and best possible outcomes?

Maybe it is critical and worthwhile to have Pediatricians share some of our best pediatric intervention research that helps more than 97% of 5-year-olds read on grade-level before the end of 2nd grade – no matter if these children enter Kindergarten in the bottom 10% on pre-literacy and language measures that have been shown to be highly and reliably predictive of who will be a struggling reader by age 9. Would such outcomes be worth the 2-5 minutes that it might take to have Pediatricians help inform the parents of the medical, neurobiological, genetic and almost completely preventable aspects of phonological weakness and reading difficulties inherent in developmental dyslexia?

It is an unfortunate fact that the US educational system has made little-to-no progress with implementing highly effective, evidence-based methods in schools. It is equally unfortunate that many families and teachers are still misinformed that any program with an “Orton-Gillingham” approach is highly effective and evidence-based (they are not). Woefully, our current educational system continues to support a “school to prison pipeline” that fails to help our children to fully develop phonological awareness, reading accuracy, reading fluency, and full comprehension/memory while reading. Perhaps it is time for Pediatricians to step up, play a larger role in the sharing of medical information about a disorder that is medical in origin and nature, and help empower parents to know the true scientific facts of dyslexia? Isn’t it time for one of the most common childhood medical disorders to receive first-line attention by the pediatricians, nurse-practitioners, nurses and other healthcare professionals who are some of the first to interact with families about the health and well-being of their children. IF Pediatricians and other healthcare professionals make an earnest effort to share scientific facts and not myths, then the following successful prevention of poor reading skills (see graph above and supporting PDF’s) results will be commonplace. Then,….


All children deserve this degree of assistance, education, and evidence-based intervention or prevention of dyslexia/LD in reading.


Library Literacy Tutor Uses NOW! Foundations™ to Change a Life

September 20

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Diana Leon is a volunteer adult learning tutor for the Alachua County Public Library’s Adult Literacy program. All of the Alachua County Library tutors are trained in NOW! Foundations for Speech, Language, Reading, and Spelling®. Anyone interested in becoming an adult literacy tutor in Alachua County, FL should call Theresa Sterling, ACLD Literacy Coordinator, at 352-334-3929.

I began my search for volunteer opportunities at the library over a year ago because I was determined to give back to my community in a more meaningful way. The Literacy Coordinator, Theresa Sterling, at the Alachua County Public Library made a great case for literacy tutoring: you can take the skills you acquire anywhere, there is a high need for literacy volunteers, and you can give people hope. img_2964 So, the library sponsored my training with Neuro-development of Words – NOW!® in a program called NOW! Foundations for Speech, Language, Reading, and Spelling®. I was intrigued by their research-based dynamic, multi sensory approach to reading. The logic behind the program is nuanced, yet simple: we need to fine tune our phonological awareness at understandable, concrete levels before we venture into the abstract abyss of English reading, spelling, and comprehension. As a literate person, you automatically make these multisensory connections–your mouth moves, and you produce the sounds you need to read or say words. Yet I was discovering new and exciting ways to understand written and spoken language. I was confident that the program could work.
Next I was paired with my learner, Abby*, who was just as eager to learn as I was to teach. She was pulled out of school during first grade and never acquired the skills you might need for basic reading and writing. She had some previous experience with adult learning centers to no avail. She had zero sound associations with letters and relied on rote memorization to read and spell with little success–“Rat. B-E-D.” But because of her willingness to try anything, I was given raw clay with which I could sculpt.
The first epiphany that Abby had with the NOW! Program was her mouth control. We used mouth pictures with names based on the action required to produce the specific sound to segment, read, and spell words. For example, /p/ and /b/ require you to close your lips and then pop them open to make the sounds. She was learning where to position her tongue, lips, and jaw to make the sounds she needed. She was discovering new words and sounds with a very concrete base so she can self-correct (e.g., do my mouth movements match the sounds I want to produce or the pictures I see). hq-watercolor
This was a very important first step in the program.
As Abby learned more sounds and had a concrete understanding of her mouth movements, she gained tools to better understand English. She was also reinforcing the rudimentary steps to actually read and spell (e.g., sounding out words or segmenting, reading from left to right, understanding the way sounds and words can change, etc.). When we first started just short of a year ago, it was hard for her to discriminate sounds in words like “paw.” Today, she segments with relative ease using blocks (a more abstract version of the picture cards, but less abstract than letters), and we are working on perfecting her recognition of all the sounds in the English language and reading and spelling one-syllable words. She’s very pleased that she can now recognize and read words when she watches television or goes grocery shopping.

Not only has her progress been rewarding for me, but she confessed that this past year has been the happiest of her life. Her confidence and self-esteem are now abounding. Meeting with her for three hours every week is a great joy in my life. The library and NOW! are changing lives, and I’m grateful to be a part of it.

On Kindergarten, Reading, and Waiting

June 30

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A recent article in The Huffington Post addressed reading skills in Kindergarten. It was intended to relieve parents of the high amount of pressure the current system puts on children to perform at a certain level academically, and it probably did just that. With the current backlash against high-stakes testing, parents are looking for pressure-release valves.

In many ways, the author’s thoughts were accurate and helpful. Our system is putting too much emphasis on high academic standards at an age when children, developmentally, should be spending more time running, climbing, and playing in the dirt. Every single one of the author’s “4 things worse than not learning to read in Kindergarten” are accurate… for Kindergarten.


The problem comes when people interpret this attempt at moderation as a reason to not be vigilant (which is not communicated in the original article). While it may not be the end of the world if your child is not reading by the end of Kindergarten, there is evidence in research, explained in this well-written article on Reading Rockets, that it is not safe to assume a developmental lag when children show signs of reading struggles.

So how do we strike the balance? How do we not let our lives be, on the one hand, dictated by fear for every delay, and on the other hand, miss true warning flags?

The answer: education! We must know what is developmentally reasonable, and what is cause for concern. Science has revealed so much, yet it is often hard for good information to cut through the noise that so often permeates our media-saturated society.

For a breakdown of red flags by age, see this list from The Morris Center clinics in Central Florida. But for Kindergarten-age children, here are some things to look for:

  • Consistent mispronunciation of words
  • Trouble rhyming
  • Misses or changes sounds in words
  • Has trouble retrieving a word
  • Difficulty remembering directions

Bear in mind that most children do these things at some point, but if one or more of these indicators persist over time, consider having them assessed by a neuropsychologist or licensed therapist.

The spread of science-based information to parents is a responsibility held by many entities, including reputable media outlets and pediatricians. It is not acceptable for pseudo-science about dyslexia and other reading struggles to pass as major news stories, or for the medical community to purely see reading difficulties as an educational problem. Parents also need to do their part to seek out information based in legitimate research. This will go a long way toward making sure that parental worries are worthwhile.

And yet, schools will bear the brunt of the responsibility, and will be up for the task if they take two major steps forward:


1) Schools should be administering simple assessments involving phoneme elision, or the omission of phonemes in words (saying “cat” without the /k/ sound) that has been found to be highly predictive of future reading difficulties.

2) It is time that schools begin applying the research that has shown that about 97% of reading difficulties can be prevented in young children when given effective, neurodevelopment reading instruction. Giving PreK-1st Grade students age-appropriate, neurodevelopment instruction in the multi-sensory features of language sounds, and systematically training strong phonological processing skills could virtually eliminate this stress from the lives of most parents by adequately preparing the bulk of students for standard classroom reading instruction.

It’s time for us to all do our part. By spreading information based in science, looking for legitimate red flags, assessing children on necessary and developmentally appropriate skills, and providing evidence-based, neurodevelopment reading instruction, we can strike that balance between fear and flippancy, and find good judgment that leads to growth.

Could dyslexia awareness save our educational system?

May 10

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When we talk about the educational system today, it is rarely in positive terms. Praises for the efforts and achievements of individual teachers are often overshadowed by criticism, pointing out its many shortcomings. Recently, these criticisms have focused on two related issues: high-stakes testing, and the unacceptably low percentage of students who are able to reach proficiency standards.

While this debate has been going on in the general population, a powerful advocacy group has been materializing. Organizations like the state-oriented “Decoding Dyslexia” have a growing voice in state and national education policy, and for good reason: They represent the population of students who have, by far, the most frequently diagnosed learning disability. Moreover, it is a disability about which scientific research has made great strides, none of which have made their way into general knowledge among educators or administrators. The educational system has been incredibly unfair to this group, and has fewer and fewer reasons for being so.

Through no fault of their own, these students have trouble with words on the level of individual speech sounds. A neuro-biological condition has set them up for failure in activities that are seen as vital to educational success. But the recent attention they are garnering might bring about some salvation of the system as a whole.

Take the problem with high-stakes testing, for instance. The plight of students with dyslexia might just be what was needed to turn us back from such disastrous policy. Over-testing and punitive measures for not passing have a devastating effect on a student’s motivation to learn by creating anxiety and a sense of disconnection between education and life (“When am I ever going to need this except to pass a stupid test?”). So the impact is negative in general. Yet sympathy for students has been hard to come by. Enter the students with dyslexia, who have to put far greater effort into such foundational academic activities as reading and writing than typical students. Without appropriate instruction, these students have to fight the natural wiring of their brains just to perform. They struggle to demonstrate mastery of the content they’ve learned because of their inability to master academic skills, like reading and writing. What they know is not reflected on tests, leading advocates to rightly conclude that the tests are unfair, as are the consequences for not passing them. Their condition, which isn’t a rare one (current estimates say that about 20% of the general population struggles with some degree of dyslexia), has led many people to question the validity of high-stakes testing in general. Some states have started major overhauls, and the Federal ESSA law, which replaces No Child Left Behind, cuts them out of the equation completely, at least at the federal level.

This is not to say that everyone who struggles on standardized tests or reading fluency only does so because of dyslexia. Most educators, however, would say that a move away from high stakes over-testing benefits everyone involved. This action, which creates justice for one population, ends up benefitting everyone. This is also not to say that the growing advocacy movement for students with dyslexia was the deciding factor in this debate, but it definitely played a role in mobilizing parents and swaying policymakers.

But an even greater impact might be in the realm of reading proficiency. Research into how to teach those with dyslexia to read has been going on for decades, at first with only varying degrees of success. Research conducted in the late-1990s and early 2000s, however, found an astonishingly high level of success at not only teaching students with dyslexia to read, but preventing them from struggling in the first place. The approach taken has been called neuro-developmental, as it follows the same path that typical readers take in building reading skills, explicitly teaching skills that most reading instruction takes for granted. One study found that teaching kindergarten children to read with this approach yielded an incredibly high success rate of over 97% on or above grade level by Grade 2!1

We also know that science-based, neuro-developmental reading instruction also teaches those with naturally strong phonological systems to read. Neuro-developmental methods teach everyone to read. Imagine if we taught all children with methods based in the science of how brains acquire language skills. An action that would bring justice for one population would end up benefitting everyone.

Yet we continue to offer traditional reading instruction that only works for the 80% that have naturally strong phonological skills. But demand is growing for evidence-based practices in schools. Awareness of what is possible is growing. Imagine a school system where only 3%, instead of 30% to 50%, are struggling to read in 2nd Grade. Imagine the impact on classroom behavior. Imagine the improvement in attitudes toward learning in general. While this might not be a silver bullet that fixes everything, imagine the impact it could have.

1 Torgesen, J.K., Wagner, R. K., Rashotte, C.A., Rose, E., Lindamood, P., Conway, T., & Garvin, C. (1999). Preventing reading failure in young children with phonological processing disabilities: Group and individual responses to instruction. Journal of Educational Psychology, 91, 579-593.

A Neuro-Developmental Model

September 18

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Often, “new” science simply confirms the merits of how things have always been done.

Science often reveals new ways of doing things that improve upon the way things have always been done. Consider the computer, which has practically eliminated limitations of geography and time. Tasks which used to require large groups of people, vast amounts of time, and close proximity are now completed in a fraction of the time, regardless of a member’s location.

Yet, the more science advances, the more we realize that the “secrets” to so many things were already intuitively known to us. We just may not be consciously aware of them. Think about nutrition. There is a growing awareness that the more food is processed and removed from its original form, the less capable it is of providing what the body needs. Is it “new science” to use natural foods to maintain a truly healthy diet?

Reading Instruction

The industry that has built up around how to teach reading has been centered on one question: “How can we present reading in a new way so that more students get it?” Publishers, in search of the next new thing, have tried everything from colorful cartoon mascots to novel activities that increase engagement. During this time, however, research has continually shown how the typical child’s language and reading skills develop by building off more foundational phonological skills – intuitively known to us (though not always strong enough to allow fluent reading skills to develop).

From the time a child starts to look at adult mouth movements, to the moment when they write their first well-organized essay, the roadmap for language skills has slowly been pieced together. Is it possible that the science of language and reading is simply leading us back to the way these tasks have been done all along, but with an increased awareness of the process itself?

A Neuro-Developmental Model

Research conducted over the past 20 years sought to answer this question: If the skills necessary for reading fluency can be identified and strengthened in young students who demonstrate warning signs for weak reading skills, can they be prevented from reading failure? The answer was a resounding “Yes,” as over 97% of them dramatically improved their reading skills, and most of them were either reading at or above their grade level by 2nd grade. The same was done for students already struggling to read, again, with dramatic results. Two elements were present in the interventions used in this research:

1) The intervention followed the roadmap of skills revealed by scientific research, from individual language sounds to reading fluency.

2) The intervention used research principles necessary to build skill and function in the brain.

These two general characteristics constitute what we now call a neuro-developmental model.

Characteristics of a Neuro-Developmental Model

Using this roadmap and the principles of skill-building (accomplished via “neuroplasticity”), a neuro-developmental model should include the following specific elements:

1. Students should be able to perceive language sounds before being asked to produce those sounds

2. Begin with spoken language skills before moving to written language skills. This means strengthening foundational skills, like:

· Phonological awareness, or the understanding of what a person sees, feels, and hears when they make language sounds

· Phonological processing, or the ability to identify, manipulate, and reproduce changes in individual sounds within words

3. Instructions should only move from simple skills to more advanced skills as lesser skills are mastered

4. Instruction should be multi-sensory and make use of discovery-based learning strategies in a gradual-release model that fosters student independence

5. All activities are engaged in a way that will efficiently and effectively create and strengthen the necessary neural connections in the brain (neuroplasticity). This means that all activities must be done with the following elements:

· Frequency – The activities must be done often enough to build the skill.

· Intensity – The activities must be done with enough vigor and focus to build the skill.

· Specificity – The activities must target and build the desired skill.

· Duration – The activities must be done over a long enough time span to build the skill.

· Neuro-developmentally – The activities must follow the typical path of how that skill is acquired, as described above.

The key to effective reading instruction for people has been with us all along, and the new science has brought us back around to this realization: People don’t “learn differently” in the sense that they need content presented in different ways. Some people naturally develop certain skills, while others have to be taught those skills explicitly. Either way, the same path must be followed and the principles of skill building, required by all people, must be adhered to.

Multi-Sensory Instruction

August 20

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In discussing its marketing strategy with a documentary filmmaker, the CEO of an airline spoke of the “across the board” changes they were making, from their advertisements to the look of the interior of their airplanes. Even their luggage compartments were being redesigned for the purpose of increasing customer loyalty. When asked to explain how the shape of luggage compartments could have an impact on customer loyalty, he stated that this was a trade secret. “Other airlines may try to duplicate what we do, but if they don’t know why they’re doing it that way, it won’t work.”

In this situation, his statement sounded a little dramatic. However, generally, one should know why they are doing what they are doing in order to insure effectiveness.

So what does this have to do with reading difficulties?

It is now common knowledge among dyslexia advocates and researchers that standard reading instruction is ineffective for people with dyslexia, and that struggling readers need multi-sensory instruction. What seems to have eluded so many program developers and advocates is why.

Conventional wisdom suggests that when instruction incorporates two or more senses, students “get it” more easily and that “it’s more likely to stick.” Some even go a bit further to say that including more senses means using more pathways in the brain, which leads to better assimilation.

Sounds very scientific; but this is true for all people.

boy holding rockIf a person holds a rock in their hand, examining it with their fingers and eyes, before reading a paragraph about that type of rock, and listening to an audio recording of an expert talking about that type of rock, clearly they are more likely to understand and remember the information than if they had simply read the paragraph. This tells us nothing about why people with dyslexia need specific multi-sensory instruction.

To understand that, we have to look at the unique skill deficits most often associated with people who struggle to read.

Some people argue that students with dyslexia need multi-sensory instruction as a “work around” for weak visual processing skills. However, we know dyslexia is not a visual problem. People with dyslexia are no more likely to have vision problems than the general population. Nor is it a problem with hearing. The weakness lies in the processing of language sounds, specifically in awareness of the multi-sensory features (what they see, feel, and hear) of language sounds, and the ability to manipulate or identify changes in sounds. Ask a person with dyslexia to identify what their mouth is doing when they make a specific language sound, and they are less able to do so than someone who does not have dyslexia. We know this because someone studied it.

The graph below from a study completed in 1981 (Montgomery, 1981), shows a dramatic skill difference in ability between children with dyslexia and children with typically developing reading skills. When asked to accurately identify pictures of the mouth when making specific language sounds, children with dyslexia were far less likely to accurately do it. They scored slightly better than “chance.”


These are spoken language skills. Most children learn them naturally, starting at about 8 months of age, long before they ever identify sounds with letters. Yet, they provide the foundation for strong reading skills. Like a foundation, if it is weak or faulty, the structure above is going to be impacted.

So what does this have to do with multi-sensory instruction for reading?

While most children learn reading naturally, some do not. Some have to be explicitly taught the connections between what they hear, see and feel when they make language sounds. Such instruction, by its nature, is going to be multi-sensory. Multi-sensory instruction that is most effective for people with dyslexia will target and strengthen the weakness seen in the graph above.

So, back to the question: Is it possible for people to try to duplicate something (in this case, effective reading instruction for people with dyslexia), but fail miserably because they don’t know how to answer the question, “Why?”

The most popular programs for people with dyslexia have children drawing letters in the air, writing on sandpaper, or drawing letters in glitter. Other programs have kids tap their arms or shake their legs while spelling words. One website claims that the purpose of multi-sensory instruction is to “just have the kids do SOMETHING” to include their touch/movement sensory system, with the idea being that if the CONTENT takes different paths through the brain, maybe it will stick.

sn-brainstructureHWhile these items may increase attention due to the novel instructional approach, what the developers of these programs fail to realize is that for many students, it is not a lack of content at the root of reading difficulties, but weak skills, particularly the lack of phonological awareness and processing. Multi-sensory instruction has to strengthen those skills. For reading instruction to be effective, not just any sensory pathway through the brain is acceptable. The targeted paths need to be language-specific and phonological-specific. If they aren’t, the activity is simply a more engaging way to learn content that, in the end, won’t make it any easier for people with dyslexia to become fluent readers.

Dyslexia advocates have done a great job spreading the word that multi-sensory instruction is needed. Unfortunately, many programs themselves often don’t understand the research enough to know how to effectively use multi-sensory instruction. Stamping “Orton-Gillingham” on a program because students move around during instruction should not be enough anymore. It’s time to dig deeper and understand why multi-sensory instruction is important and which skills to target.

Montgomery, D. (1981). Do dyslexics have difficulty accessing articulatory information? Psychological Research, 43, 235-243.

Tutors needed – Alachua County Library

July 15

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Alachua County Library Literacy Program

From their website:
Literacy tutor training is offered once or twice each year with additional subsequent booster sessions.

Our new approach to training literacy tutors and serving adults who struggle with reading involves a fascinating, dynamic and intense training called NOW! Foundations. Tutor training is offered in the evening, twice per week for a total of 24 hours of instruction (spaced out over time) and hands-on practice in this research-based approach that helps learners develop skills to read independently. Literacy tutors must be able to commit to the entire training.

This unique approach is not yet offered in any other volunteer driven adult literacy program or library-based literacy program in Florida. Be part of the cutting edge at Alachua County Library District!

Once matched with learners, tutors should be available to meet twice a week for tutoring sessions that last 60-90 minutes at the Library Branch location that offers privacy and convenience for the learning pair.

What to look for in a reading program

July 10

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The following article appeared on the Secular Home School site . It was posted as a discussion piece on their forum.. It was posted as a discussion piece to help others make a decision on choosing the reading program that was right for a homeschool environment. Continue Reading

Orton Gillingham – It’s Complicated – Part 2

June 25

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To Read Part One of this series – click here.

This post follows up on the previous post about the Orton-Gillingham “approach.” We suggest that the term “neuro-developmental” best describes reading instruction that will effectively build reading skill and prevent reading difficulties. It must be done in a way that mimics typical language acquisition, addresses the foundations of language, and is consistent with the science of skill-building. This post will describe how a neuro-developmental program of reading instruction Continue Reading