Are there effective ways to help a child struggling with reading?

Yes, we can truly help children and adults to read, to comprehend, and to be able to spell words

utilizing a system of precise assessment to identify the problem and prescribe a plan of care that targets the area to be treated that will affect changes in the core deficit.  You have heard of the 80/20 rule, in this application we treat the problem at the cellular level and that generalizes to related skill areas.

effective ways to help a child struggling with reading

For example:

we assess a child with the diagnosis of dyslexia and find they cannot hold sounds long enough in working memory to blend them together, that they are having difficulty discriminating certain sounds from one another such as p/t (high frequency sounds) or f/v AND cannot sequence sounds such as high high low high notes on a musical scale.  All of these things together cause great difficulty in decoding words. There may be another child that has the same diagnosis but is simply not fluent enough in their reading that they are unable to make sense of what they are reading and so have to read it over again AND have difficulty doing rapid automatic naming of familiar objects such as “fish – boat – house – ball” etc.  Each of these students would be given a specific plan to help them with their decoding.

There are specific programs and therapy approaches to remediate these issues and the tools we use have to be carefully chosen and dove-tailed together to provide a seamless progression of mastered targets that result in a better reader.

computer assisted program

One of those is a computer assisted program that actually slows down the presentation of sounds to  80 ms (we normally speak consonant sounds at around 40 ms) so at that speed, the person can finally discriminate with certainty the difference between /b/ and /d/, and when they can do it at 80% success rate, the computer interactively speeds up the presentation to 65 ms, then 45 ms, all the way to 25 ms.  If one can discriminate what was once “muffled” sounds at that faster speed, then they will be able to do it accurately even if there is distractions or ambient noise in the background.

Teaching sound/symbol association

Teaching sound/symbol association using a kinesthetic approach is really appreciated by students who like to learn by “doing”.  How does /b/ feel when you say it? The lips are closed, air builds up behind them until they are forced open with a burst of air coming out.  We call that a “lip popper”! Not only does that help to describe how to make the sound by describing the actual physical way in which to do it, but when they can “feel” that sound in words they can actually use this method when spelling the words as well.

These are just two of many approaches that literally works wonders with students who cannot learn to read in the traditional "drill and instill" methods used in schools.  

We work with students one at a time so they can go at a pace that is comfortable for them and we can adjust how long to spend at each level of the program as well as answer their questions as they come up.  We see growth of 1.5 years in 12 weeks on average and the student is thrilled to find they are able to make such remarkable progress, but most of all they are relieved to know they can learn as well as their classmates.

It changes everything in their lives and that is reflected in their walk, their smile, and their attitude toward learning.  

 

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