When viewed from a neurological perspective, children with dyslexia / SLDs are a very heterogeneous group; and as such the ‘recipe’ type approach to intervention strategies is somewhat problematic; as not everyone has the same causative factors at play.
It is not necessarily a matter of following simple steps. No two cases are the same.
A problem with listing various remediation strategies is that people then only use what is listed rather than tailoring the intervention.
Specific Learning Difficulties (SLDs) can, of course, lead to secondary psychological problems such as a lack of confidence, anxiety, low self-esteem, attention difficulties, restlessness, disaffectedness, alienation, frustration, and a feeling of being overwhelmed if the SLDs are not managed effectively.
Hence it is important to provide additional on-going support to children who have SLDs or who are at-risk in terms of their literacy development. This on-going support centers on the provision of literacy support which is geared specifically to the child’s ‘ability level’ as distinct from their ‘Year Level’.
Remediation – Frequently asked questions
Should parents try to teach their own children?
It is not generally recommended that parents teach their own children unless it can be kept reasonably light / fun. As a rule, parents can often best assist by acting to reinforce prior learning, as distinct from teaching new literacy skills. However, a parent could supervise one of the computer-based literacy programs; oversee basic work on ‘word families’ which serve to consolidate previous learning; engage children in incidental learning; and manage the monitoring and review of progress and review of strategies at 12 monthly intervals.
Should the main focus be on reading age appropriate books?
A balance of time spent for reading for enjoyment and reading specifically designed to teach reading. Not all of one at the exclusion of the other. Do not emphasize reading just for enjoyment. Ensure the reading lesson uses books that are graded to level of ability and continue to emphasize phonetic skill development.
Should I emphasize ‘whole-word’ reading approaches and contextual guessing?
Current research strongly supports the idea that well developed phonological or sound awareness skills are essential for successful development of literacy. Phonological awareness ability in the first two years of school is a very strong predictor of later reading and spelling success.
What does phonological processing involve?
Phonological skills enable the linking of a sound to a letter. Phonological processing assumes the ability to work through what you take in verbally (working memory); label what you see (letters sound correspondence/ rapid automatic naming) as well as the awareness of the ability to pick up and understand patterns of speech (temporal processing).
Is the ‘whole-word’ reading approach appropriate to use with children who do not have SLDs?
Yes, for perhaps as many as 80% of children the ‘whole-word’ approach and contextual guessing works as a teaching method.
Why does the ‘whole-word’ approach to reading not work for children with dyslexia?
Children with dyslexia often have sequencing difficulties. Phonological skills involve the sequencing of sounds. The ‘whole-word’ is often the preferred style of reading used by children with dyslexia as it allows them to decrease the load on their deficient sequencing skills. However, reading, and spelling in particular, requires the combination of phonological and visual (‘whole-word’) processing. Visual recall alone will generally not be sufficient for a child who has dyslexia. Also if their visual sequencing is a weakness then they will need to rely more on the sounds.
Should the teacher emphasize the speed of reading?
No; speed of reading equates to ‘whole-word’ reading. Encourage the child to take their time; emphasis on quality and not quantity.
Is teaching a second language to children with SLDs recommended?
Teaching a second language to children who have SLDs is generally not recommended. This time could possibly be utilized more efficiently by focusing on any SLDs that are related to the primary language. However, a caveat to this is that there is no one-type of SLD or dyslexia, or one-type of situation, and so each case needs to be assessed individually to some extent.
Is repeating a grade recommended for a child with an SLD?
This is a decision best made in careful consultation with the child’s parents, teachers, school, and any specialist support service providers that are involved. There are a number of factors that need to be taken into consideration when evaluating whether a child would benefit from an additional year at school. Repeating a year is sometimes recommended if a child is significantly behind in academic skills as well as social maturity, and if the school can specifically target the child’s difficulties if they were to repeat a year. However, repeating a year is rarely sufficient by itself to address the child’s needs. Other considerations are the provision of extra support while the child remains with their age-matched peers. Ultimately, of course, the decision on whether to repeat is made by the parents.