An ideal private school choice for children with dyslexia

About Dyslexia

Put most simply, people with dyslexia have difficulty with the written—and sometimes the spoken—word. A language-based learning disorder, people with dyslexia process and interpret information differently than others. Dyslexia is shown to have neurobiological and genetic causes, and therefore often runs in families. It can often be a lifelong challenge, as it impacts reading, writing, spelling, and sometimes speech.

In the past, dyslexia was mistakenly thought to be a sign of low intelligence, laziness, or the result of vision impairment. On the contrary, most individuals with dyslexia have average to gifted intellect and tend to work very hard academically (and otherwise!) in order to compensate for the challenges dyslexia causes. While vision problems can interfere with the process of reading, scientific studies show that vision problems are not a cause of dyslexia.

Sally Shaywitz, M.D., a leading expert on dyslexia, wrote an article that appeared in Scientific American in 1996. Although the article itself was remarkable, the response to it was even moreso. According to Dr. Shaywitz: “From all parts of the globe came stories of children and adults who were experiencing problems exactly like those described in the article. Diplomats, scientists, and CEOs have all told me about their difficulties with reading. Clearly, dyslexia knows no boundaries, neither geographic nor ethnic nor intellectual.” Full Article Here.

Types of dyslexia

Dyslexia can manifest itself in different ways, with different people exhibiting different signs. It can be developmental, meaning that it develops in childhood (most kids with dyslexia fall into this category); or acquired, resulting from a brain injury (such as a stroke, accident, or other trauma).

Scientific researchers have proposed several other ways of categorizing the various types of dyslexia. Generally, experts recognize the following dyslexia subtypes:

People with phonological dyslexia (also called dysphonetic or auditory dyslexia) have difficulty with phonological awareness and phonics rules. It can be identified by poor “nonword” reading skills; for example, a child may be unable to decipher meaningless, invented words that are used to test phonetic skills (such as “framble” or “zarp”) .

Surface dyslexia (also called dyseidetic or visual dyslexia) is characterized by diffculty with syntax (applying the “rules” of language) and laborious reading, despite the ability to sound out words. Learning to recognize whole words visually is difficult (if not impossible), and deciphering words that don’t follow regular phonetic rules is a challenge. Children with surface dyslexia tend to spell phonetically (for example, “school” might be spelled “skul”).

Semantic dyslexia (also known as dysnomia, anomia or naming-speed deficits) is primarily diagnosed by poor rapid automatic naming (how quickly objects, colors, letters/numbers or other symbols can be properly named aloud). Difficulty with word retrieval and hesitatation in speech is prevalent. Instead of specific nouns, generic words (“thing,” or “place”) or descriptive phrases (“the eating thing” rather than “spoon”) may routinely be used. Substituting a different word for what is actually meant is also common (saying “tornado” when meaning “volcano,” for example).

What is specifically referred to as deep dyslexia (or alexia) is an acquired rather than developmental dyslexia, also characterized primarily by semantic errors.

Empowering students with dyslexia

Children with dyslexia flourish in our small, nurturing educational setting. At The Jones-Gordon School, all students learn in small classes (6-10 max.) so lessons can easily be differentiated and personalized attention is the norm. With full-time access to assitive technology in every classroom, accomodation is the rule rather than the exception.

During the daily FLEX hour, students with dyslexia learn to their highest potential, with the assistance of certified reading instructors and speech/language and occupational therapists. These specialists can also address the many challenges that often co-occur with dyslexia, such as difficulty with handwriting (dysgraphia) and math (dyscalculia).

Recognizing that students with dyslexia learn best when taught using systematic and hands-on methods, JGS uses a structured, multisensory language approach, such as the Wilson Reading System®, Lindamood-Bell, and other Orton-Gillingham based programs (considered the “gold-standard” for teaching struggling readers and those with dyslexia). We provide explicit instruction, structured practice, specific strategies, and immediate, constructive feedback in order for children with dyslexia to develop the automaticity required to navigate the written world.

Our students are also empowered to learn using a variety of software and assistive technologies like voice recognition software, text-to-speech and audio books, and online apps, which allow them to more easily demonstrate their knowledge and focus on their strengths.

Our truly individualized educational approach allows us to apply numerous academic modifications, accommodations, and strategies to help students with dyslexia succeed at school. JGS provides exactly what each student needs.

A few of the many strategies we use to support the learning differences of kids with dyslexia:

  • “Chunking:” presenting lessons in small, easily remembered pieces of information, and teaching students to break tasks into smaller steps
  • Providing step-by-step instructions; giving directions in multiple ways (written on the board and given verbally, for example)
  • Supplying students with tools like graphic organizers for writing, graph paper for math, etc.
  • Using simple instructional aids such as charts, diagrams, models, letter strips, and number lines
  • Demonstrating mastery through “teach-back” strategies
  • Providing opportunities for guided as well as independent practice of skills
  • Combining verbal, visual, and tactile learning
  • Using hands-on, experiential curriculum and project-based learning

With appropriate instructional methods and tools, students with dyslexia can and do achieve success, in and out of the classroom!

[The teachers and staff at JGS] have a one-of-a-kind passion, an innate sense of how kids like our son learn; and a vision of success for each and every student.
- Jones-Gordon parent

What are some of the other signs of dyslexia?

According to recognized dyslexia expert Nancy Mather, a child with dyslexia will regularly experience challenges in a number of the following skill areas:

  • Difficulty with rhyming
  • Challenges with learning the alphabet and corresponding sounds
  • Difficulty pronouncing multisyllabic words
  • Slow rate and fluency of reading; reading below grade level and ability
  • Problems processing and understanding auditory information
  • Difficulty comprehending rapid or multiple-step instructions
  • Difficulty copying from the board or a book
  • General disorganization of written work
  • Trouble seeing (and sometimes hearing) similarities and differences in letters and words
  • An inability to “sound out” the pronunciation of unfamiliar words
  • Seeing letters or words in reverse (“b” for “d” or “saw” for “was,” for example) — although common in young children
  • Difficulty with spelling
  • Trouble learning a foreign language
  • Difficulty discerning left and right
  • Other co-existing conditions (depression, anxiety, AD/HD, dysgraphia, dyscalculia)

Since so much of what happens in a classroom is based on language skills such as reading and writing, identifying and treating dyslexia as early as possible is imperative. Using appropriate instructional methods,students with dyslexia can achieve success, in and out of the classroom!