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Presentation for Staff

Kim Kirk

on 18 August 2014

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Transcript of Dyslexia

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by it’s ability to climb a tree, it will live it’s whole life thinking it’s stupid.” - Albert Einstein
Walk in a dyslexic’s shoes

• Hold a conversation without using words with an f or t in them.

(Dyslexics have to think about every word)

• Find an easy then difficult name printed somewhere. Copy it down. How much time did this take?

(Dyslexics experience frustration and wasted time trying to find correct spelling)
• Imagine reading a highly technical report to a filled auditorium on a subject you know little about – with only 3 minutes notice.

(Dyslexics feel pressure reading in public)

• Sit in on a class in a foreign language

(Dyslexics often have to rely on non-verbal cues)

• Spend a day writing with your non-dominant hand

(Dyslexics often have slow and less controlled handwriting ability)

• Look for an address that you don’t really know whether it exists.

(If Dyslexics can’t find an address they’re not sure whether it’s because it doesn’t exist or because they copied the numbers in the address down incorrectly)
• Dial the phone number of a friend but change the order of 2 numbers. Ring the same number 2 or 3 times in a row.

(Imagine frustration and abuse a Dyslexic would get when trying to ring a friend)

• Write a cheque where the amount in words differs from the amount in numerals.

(Dyslexics often have to jump through hoops just to get a cheque accepted)

• Send a letter to an incorrectly written address. How long does it take to get a correct address or have it returned to sender.
• Try and watch TV whilst listening to the radio then recount what was happening in both.

(Dyslexics often ‘tune out’ when hit with info overload)

• Read just descriptive passages from the middle of a novel then try to join in a discussion on the whole novel.

(Dyslexics often miss the main themes)

• Read an article with a friend then discuss it but change important facts – insisting you are right.

(Dyslexics often confuse the facts)

• Read signs when in a group making obvious mistakes – how do people treat you?

• Write a paragraph explaining a complicated activity you know little about – without referencing other materials

• Follow someone’s instructions but toss a coin to see whether you go left or right when they tell you to go either left or right. How long does it take you to get to your destination?

• File an article under an obscure word in the article rather than on the main topic. How easy is it to find a month later?

• Write your morning routine down on pieces of paper, shuffle them then pull them out at random. Try and memorise your “new” routine and follow it the next morning.

(Dyslexics often don’t know what’s happening next. This can make them insecure)

• Ask someone who is very busy to help you with a trivial meaningless task.

(Dyslexics often get abused when asking for help)

• Ask someone over and over how to spell words
So what is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia – comes from the Greek language and basically means ‘difficulty with words’.

Other words used over its history: ‘word blindness’, ‘congenital word blindness’, ‘strephosymbolia’ (twisting of symbols)

Dyslexia = an unexplained reading difficulty (reading difficulty not expected based on other cognitive abilities)

Dyslexia is more than just reading problems or letter reversals. It includes difficulties with:
In 2009, the Rose Review Group, looked at the scientific evidence for dyslexia, and came up with the following working definition of Dyslexia.
• ‘Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling.
(ie an unexplained reading difficulty)
• Characteristic features of dyslexia are difficulties in phonological awareness, verbal memory and verbal processing speed.
(ie dyslexics have poor phonological awareness and don’t follow or remember verbal instructions well)
• Dyslexia occurs across the range of intellectual abilities.
(often but not always bright, creative children)
• It is best thought of as a continuum, not a distinct category, and there are no clear cut-off points.
(They are individuals and the severity of their dyslexia can vary)

Reading involves Decoding and Comprehension:

Normal Reading
General Difficulties
Elephant In the Room
Dyslexia is estimated to affect some
of the Australian population.

In Australia the term SLD (Specific/Significant Learning Difficulty/Disabilty) or LD (Learning Difficulty) are used interchangeably and as an umbrella term for a variety of difficulties which may or may not be dyslexia. AND YET funding is not available.

In Australia there is no legal right to assessment, but once a child is assessed and diagnosed with dyslexia, then the Anti-Discrimination Act protects children’s rights through the Disability Standards for Education 2005. All educational institutes in Australia
must provide appropriate support
for students diagnosed with a disability including dyslexia.

Many Schools of Thought
Dyslexia is influenced by biology and culture. It involves many behaviours that need to be explained eg.

• Different phonological processing behaviours
• Different working memory behaviours
• Different visual function behaviours
• Different functional lateralization (eg a high percentage of dyslexics are left handed)

Dyslexia is a type of thinking and learning style independent of intellectual abilities.

It does not respond to the conventional evidenced based methods of teaching reading.

Dyslexia is a visual learning style that is
resistant to phonics based reading

Teaching dyslexics to read follows the same principles as other students, however instruction must be amplified, intensified and relentless

Dyslexics must master the alphabetic principle but it takes much more effort and time

A non-dyslexic reader must have 4 or more successful encounters with a new word to be able to read it. Dyslexics however require many more exposures over a much longer period

Irlen Syndrome is different from Dyslexia, and some researchers have labelled the Irlen symptoms as Visual Dyslexia. With coloured overlays or Irlen Spectral filters individuals can improve reading speed, fluency, accuracy and comprehension.
Structure of Language
The Structure of Language affects Dyslexia.

Reading requires the mapping of language sounds onto visual symbols, so a child’s dyslexia may be a result of difficulties with visual, auditory, a combination of both or memory retention.

Think about what is involved in reading:
With so many processes involved there are so many areas in which doctors, teachers, therapists etc can focus and thus so many schools of thought re Dyslexia.
3 common kinds of dyslexia

(i) Visual – problem with processing and interpreting visual images

(ii) Auditory - problem with processing and interpreting auditory images

(iii) Combination of the two

MRI studies
MRI studies show
reduced activity
in the area of the brain that links the visual cortex and visual association area to the language areas (
areas affecting automatic word identification and fluency
) but
greater activity
in the Broca area.

ie Dyslexics use the Broca area of the brain (Broca’s area is responsible for
various speech and language functions
) rather than the phonological skills area.

MRI scans show that the main problem for dyslexic children is in
transforming written letters into the appropriate sounds

Studies are also suggesting that a dyslexic child’s brain can be
if the child has access to scientifically proven literacy programmes and if the child’s is motivated and commited to engage in the specific learning tasks.

Indicators of Dyslexia

Dyslexic indicators for pre-schoolers
Has difficulty learning and remembering nursery rhymes.
Can't sit still or listen to stories.
Likes listening to stories, but never comments on the words or letters.
Loves listening to stories and can memorise the text of favourite stories without any association to the words.
Has difficulty learning the alphabet song and mixes up the order of the letters.
May have difficulty making connections between letters and sounds.
Cannot recognise the letters in their own name.
Never comments on word or letters in their environment, such as on TV, computers or in advertising.
Has no interest in trying to write letters or words.
Has difficulty drawing or copying basic geometric shapes.
Is constantly clumsy, lacking coordination and general body awareness.
Finds it difficult to use scissors, crayons, paintbrushes etc.
Has trouble counting or learning to identify written numbers.
Has a history of slow speech development and has trouble being understood by strangers.
Has difficulty keeping time or rhythm with sound patterns, such as clapping, music or a regular beat.
Finds it hard to follow more that one instruction at a time.
Has difficulty understanding the meaning of words such as underneath, beside, around, above, behind etc.
Has trouble locating familiar objects in the home.
Has difficulty putting items away where they belong.
Forgets the names of people, places, teachers, colours, and shapes etc.
Cannot pronounce sounds to learn new words.
Puts clothes on the wrong way round.
Has trouble with gross motor skills such as catching, kicking, throwing, hopping, galloping, skipping etc.
When speaking, regularly mixes up familiar words like 'pootfrints' instead of 'footprints'.
Uses baby talk for longer than would be expected.
Has an immediate family member who also displays difficulty with reading, writing and spelling

Please be aware that it is very common for young children up to the age of 6-7 years to write letters, words and whole sentences backwards. That is, from right to left instead of left to right. This is known as 'transposing'. It is perfectly normal for backwards writing and sometimes reading to occur on occasion. If you point it out to your child, they may acknowledge their mistake and giggle. It is important not to reprimand your young child for making this mistake, as you always want to encourage them to 'have a go' when learning to write, whether they make mistakes in their writing or not. Ail attempts at writing need to be celebrated and this is a normal part of writing and reading development. It is not considered an indicator of dyslexia, unless it occurs very regularly or into their later elementary school years.

Dyslexic indicators for primary school students
Doesn't enjoy going to school.
Comes home from school most days exhausted, disagreeable and stressed.
Gets very stressed and anxious as holidays come to an end and a new school term/year approaches.
Is extremely tired at the beginning of the school year, terms and semesters.
Appears to be trying really hard at school, but is not making good progress.
Has trouble learning and reading basic frequently used sight words such as; my, the, in, on, can, we, to, at, be, etc, often given on flashcard to new school starters.
Is slow to write their name.
When reading and writing will often mix up letter in words and may read and write numbers, letters and words backwards. For example b can be seen as b, d, p q or even 9.
When writing or copying written words, has trouble seeing the spaces between the words - they all seem to run together.
Continues to rely heavily on pictures and illustrations in readers and books.
Is hesitant and laboured when reading aloud.
Guesses wildly when reading unknown words instead of trying to sound them out.
When attempting to sound out unknown words will often confuse the sounds of the letters or letter blends - for example 'sh' for 'ch'.
Misses whole words when reading aloud. This can be random words or even just the smaller words.
Mixes up smaller words when reading and may read 'for' instead 'from' or 'and' instead of 'am'.
Can learn a word, (with parent or teacher help) on a page in their reader and then cannot recognise the same word on the following pages.
Will regularly read words backwards, such as 'was' for 'saw' or 'no' for 'on'.
When reading, changes difficult words to a shorter version. For example Katherine becomes Kate.
May skip parts of words when reading, for example will read 'there' instead of 'thermometer'.
Continually fails to recognise familiar words.
Memorises whole stories to avoid processing words and reading.
Has difficulty knowing the correct beginnings and endings for words. For example they can read 'hop' but not 'hopping'.
Can be easily distracted and lack concentration in the classroom.
Cannot focus on a task or a piece of work for a period of time, meaning the work doesn't get completed.
May have difficulty copying words from the blackboard/ whiteboard. Unable to copy long word sequences and copies slowly letter by letter or word part by word part.
Needs a quiet place with no distractions in order to read or produce any work.
Has difficulty following a series of instructions.
Confuses left and right.
Has a fear of becoming lost.
Has trouble thinking of words when they are speaking or writing.
When talking, over uses words such as 'stuff or 'things', when having difficulty thinking of a word.
Has a limited vocabulary.
Produces messy work, with poor handwriting and many crossings out.
Doesn't hold their pencil correctly.
Makes poor reading progress compared to the average standard in their class.
Makes very slow progress with spelling.
Often spells bizarrely, writing words based on the sounds of the letters and random guesses.
Has trouble gaining understanding or meaning from written text, also known as reading comprehension.
Has good comprehension skills when tested verbally, but then cannot write the same answers correctly.
Isn't able to organise themselves or their possessions.
Can count aloud, but cannot recognise numbers when written numerically or write them when asked.
Has difficulty learning their multiplication or times tables.
Has difficulty learning to tell the time on an analogue clock. They may prefer digital.
Shows confusion with shape and number patterns, also with number order such as 100's, 10's and 1's
Is confused by mathematical symbols such as + and x and also terms such as add, subtract, multiply and divide often mixing them up to produce incorrect answers.
Has difficulty memorising and remembering things, such as days of the week, months, related seasons, birthdays, names.
Has difficulty remembering things in sequential order.
Has poor writing caused by a lack of skill with holding and mastering their pencil or pen.
Their performance at school is adversely affected by a lack of sleep.
They have very good or very bad days at school.
Will try anything to get out of doing their schoolwork.
Dreads doing homework and gets very stressed and anxious or even angry, requesting your presence and assistance constantly.
Is easily distracted in order to avoid concentrating on schoolwork.
May be the class clown, disruptive or withdrawn.
Enjoys electronic games, but needs constant assistance to play computer or electronic games where the reading of instructions is required.
May seek constant reassurance by continually asking what is required of them or what is about to happen in terms of future events and schedules.
Has an immediate family member who also displays difficulty with reading, writing and spelling.

Dyslexic indicators for middle, secondary or senior school
Children develop at different rates. For this age group it is also important to consider the indicators listed for primary/elementary school students, as well as the following traits.

Considers school to be difficult, unsatisfactory and unenjoyable.
Is excessively tired and disagreeable after school.
Avoids attending school.
Is disorganised and forgetful.
Is hesitant and finds it difficult to read aloud.
Avoids completing set writing tasks and writes very little.
Chooses subjects where a minimum of reading, writing and bookwork is required.
Prefers subjects that allow for mental, physical or hands on creativity.
May choose shorter more basic words when writing over longer words.
Their spoken abilities are far superior to their written work.
Has poor handwriting or writes very slowly.
Has continued difficulty with spelling.
Has difficulty with punctuation and grammar.
Confuses capital and lower case letters when writing.
Has trouble taking notes or keeping up in class.
Struggles to organise their home study time, complete homework and hand it in on time.
Lacks strategies to complete set school tasks, organise themselves or to meet deadlines.
Leaves out words, repeats words or adds in extra words when writing.
May read slowly or seems to read at quite a good rate, but does not comprehend what they are reading.
Cannot recognise familiar words.
Struggles with more complex words like those with prefixes or suffixes
When reading, misses lines of text or repeats the same line twice.
Constantly loses their place when reading and has difficulty locating it again.
Cannot remember a list of verbal instructions.
Has trouble with reading writing and spelling, but displays amazing oral or spoken language skill and may also have an incredible memory.
May misspell the same word differently in a single piece or writing
Is often in the wrong place at the wrong time for no apparent reason.
Misunderstands complicated instructions or questions.
Confuses symbols.
Has trouble with mental maths where time limits are in place.
May know how to arrive at the correct answer for a complex mathematical equation, but cannot write the steps which led to the final answer.
Enjoys, listening to and playing music, but struggles to read music.
Has trouble producing work under pressure or where time constraints are in place.
Can be presented with information in class and then have difficulty deciding what is important.
Causes trouble at school and displays challenging and difficult behaviour on a regular basis.
Can often learn foreign languages through listening, mimicking and memorising words and phrases, but displays extreme difficulty when trying to read and write a foreign language.
Brings home a poor school report card regularly.
Has an immediate family member who also displays difficulty with reading, writing and spelling

Warning bells with John
• No or little interest in books
• Confusion between similar sounding words eg mat and max, gunboots
• Hearing fine but Speech pathologist saying he presents as a hearing loss child
• Screen saver mode daydreaming
• Couldn’t learn alphabet
• Couldn’t do sequencing activities
• Speech delay
• “talking to the angels” as a baby
• Not reading basic books
• Substituting wrong word right meaning when reading eg small/little
• Trouble remembering names Aunty Tanya / Aunty Trina
• Birds eye view drawings
How Does Dyslexia get diagnosed?

In my case with John – I googled and read and read and read. I took him to therapists who threw terms such as sensory dysfunction at me, paediatricians who threw Ritalin at John but nothing gelled with me until I read Ron Davis’s book
The Gift of Dyslexia
I know Ron is only one of the “blind men” sharing his perceptions of the dyslexia elephant, but what I read in his book described John to a tee. A lot of the dyslexic children I notice and help also fit Ron’s version of dyslexia.

So I basically self-diagnosed John, took all my evidence to a paediatrician who confirmed he had a Learning Difficulty (a term I don’t personally like as it is so vague).

How do other parents go about getting a diagnosis so they can get help? Truthfully it is a slow, laborious task with a lot of brick walls and frustration if you don’t have the $1000 or more to go to Sydney to get a recognised private contractor to do the formal diagnosis.

(The Dyslexia Association www.dyslexia.org.au)
The Purpose of assessing a child you suspect may be dyslexic is not to get a label, but to
provide information on how to help the child learn
what they need to know. It involves multiple sources of both formal and informal assessment.
1. Medical Tests – Hearing and Visual. Rule these out as sources for concern.
2. IQ test – Is the child performing to their expected ability?
3. Academic tests/samples
reading age
Handwriting sample
Spelling age
Comprehension age
Story writing samples
Number work
4. Diagnostic Tests
- auditory processing (Armidale)
- visual perception
- Phonological skills
- single word decoding of real and nonsense words
- Memory
- Lateral acuity
- spoken language
- speed of processing
5. Case History of Child
NB: The range of tests used must also be recognised and endorsed by the Education Department. This can be an expensive procedure.

Tests that can be used in testing for Dyslexia

 Woodcock Reading Mastery Test
 Gray oral reading Tests
 Test 2 Reading Fluency of the Woodcock-Johnson III
 Test of Written Spelling-4
 Wide Range Achievement Test Revised
 Wechsler Individual Achievement Test-II
 Woodcock-Johnson III
 The Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing
 Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test

Tests to Evaluate Phonological Skills and Reading Readiness

Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing in Reading (CTOPP) (PRO-ED, Inc) 5 years to adult

Lindamood Auditory Conceptualization Test (LAC) (PRO-ED, Inc) K to Year 6

Rosner Test of Auditory Analysis (Walker & Company) K to Year 6

Test of Phonological Awareness (TOPA) (PRO-ED, Inc) K to Year 2

The Phonological Awareness Test (PAT) (LinguiSystems) 5 years to 7 years

Yopp-Singer Test of Phoneme Segmentation K to Year 1

Screening Assessments

 Texas Primary Reading Inventory (TPRI)

 Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS)

 Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS)

Auditory Processing

• There is a difference between hearing and processing what we hear.

• Hearing tests test whether or not we can hear sounds but auditory processing investigates what the brain does with what it hears.

• If hearing has been compromised (eg through regular ear infections and glue ear), the brain can have difficulty fine tuning to language sounds resulting in children having “fuzzy phonemes and phonetics”.

Auditory processing investigates a variety of areas:

- Auditory discrimination (same/different)
- Auditory closure (fill in missing bits)
- Auditory pattern recognition
- Temporal aspects of audition (speed at which we process)
- Auditory localisation (locate source of sound)
- Auditory performance with degraded acoustic signal
- Auditory figure – ground (perceiving sounds in background noise)

The Fast ForWord Program


The Fast ForWord program is a learning acceleration program based on over 30 years of neuroscience research, designed for education institutions, English language learning centers, and clinical specialists worldwide.

The Fast ForWord program develops the cognitive skills that enhance learning. The strengthening of these skills results in a wide range of improved critical language and reading skills such as phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, decoding, working memory, syntax, grammar, and other skills necessary to learn how to read or to become a better reader.

For your English Language learners, the Fast ForWord program builds a strong cognitive academic language foundation. Learners experience rapid improvements in English language and literacy skills, including the essential skill of reading for meaning.

Participants work on the Fast ForWord program 3 - 5 days a week for approximately 8 – 12 weeks. In studies, students have experienced gains in reading skills averaging 1 – 2 years.

Just as a body runs better and quicker when fit, brains learn better after consistent use with the Fast ForWord exercises. The key is processing efficiency, and students around the globe, regardless of native language, are using the Fast ForWord program to develop the cognitive skills that enhance learning, leading to academic success.


The software was specifically designed to train children diagnosed with spatial processing disorder (SPD) to hear better in noisy situations, such as the classroom.
Basic Abilities shared by Dyslexics

1. They can utilise the brain’s ability to alter and create perceptions
2. Highly aware of the environment, therefore easily distracted
3. More curious than average
Think mainly in pictures instead of words
5. Highly intuitive and perceptive
Think and perceive multidimensionally

7. Experience thought as reality
8. Vivid imaginations

Draw a table
Verbal conceptualisation = thinking with sounds in words.


But other dyslexic elephant scholars believe that the dyslexics brain can be re-wired to do so!

Dyslexics are primarily non-verbal thinkers. ie they think of concepts in pictures – not words. Their picture ‘grows’ as the thought process adds more concepts. These mental pictures are multidimensional and multi-sensory films (not 2D stills). Dyslexics have little or no internal dialogue.

Picture thinking is a lot faster than verbal thinking, this can lead to boredom, daydreaming or distraction.

Verbal thinker 2-5 thoughts per second
linear in time

Picture thinker 32 pictures per second
picture grows, thorough,
deeper, comprehensive

When a dyslexic is in a position of not understanding, his brain will be computing
all perceptual possibilities
(not just the correct one). His brain is working flat out, doing with
the possibilities what a non-dyslexic is doing with just one option.

Therefore even though his
thinking is faster
, because he is dealing with all incorrect perceptions as well as the correct one,
he may appear to be a slower thinker
. This also explains why they tire so easily and appear to have short attention spans.
As a dyslexic reads, the picture/movie forming inside the dyslexic’s brain evolves BUT function or trigger words stop the picture formation so the dyslexic can end up with a string of unrelated pictures with gaps.

Function words (eg the, a, but) can’t be pictured so are triggers to confusion.

The dyslexic reader needs to create a personal mental picture of each trigger word.

NB. Not all picture thinkers are dyslexic. It is the reaction to the confusion that makes a person dyslexic.

Have you ever been driving into a car space whilst the car beside you is backing out? You feel physically ill or motion sick for a moment until your brain works out what is happening. This is Disorientation. It occurs when we are overwhelmed by stimuli and the brain is
receiving conflicting information
. When disorientation occurs all the senses (except taste) are altered and the brain sees altered perception of what the eyes are seeing.
What can cause disorientation?
Too many picture choices – car Is it a sedan, 4WD, old, new (If child pictures one type of car this might conflict with information provided later)

Homophones/homographs – eg bangs. Does the child visualise someone banging on something or a fringe?

Unknown words – new words won’t have a visual to go with them

Sight/trigger words – eg the – it has no visual image to accompany it
A dyslexic child may be able to work their way through the confusion of 1 trigger by eliminating unlikely scenarios and coming up with what they believe is the best fit, but if they come across a number of triggers this can cause disorientation. Their brain becomes overloaded as they try and consider all the sometimes conflicting possibilities at once and disorientation occurs.
Dyslexic’s Word Bank

Every time a dyslexic sees a word (whether it is spelt correctly or not) they take a mental picture of it.

Considering font and size variations on top of handwriting and mis-spelt versions, this means the child can have multiple “pictures” of a single word.
This can lead to confusion.

To compensate for this, get the student to imagine all their images of that word on a whiteboard then to rub it out. Then replace it with the desired image – show them the desired image. (This can help with handwriting too)

As a child reads and comes to “blank” words (words without a visual) their brain will start to spin- sorting through all the possibilities for that word.

To offset this brain spinning, the student may start to physically move or sway.

Being told to sit still can actually lead to headaches, nausea and stomach aches.
During disorientation a dyslexic sees
what they perceive
or think is on the page, rather than what is actually on the page.

Often they are superimposing all possibilities trying to make sense of the word, this is why some children describe the words as blurry or say they are dancing around the page.
If or when this disorientation gets too much for the child the child will switch off, day dream or go into screen saver mode.

Or they will be concentrating so hard (limiting their awareness to one thing) they will appear in a hypnotic like state.

Dyslexic children up until the age of 9 aren’t able to concentrate. Their natural reaction to confusion isn’t to shift all their focus on to the task but rather to disorientate, make incorrect perceptions and daydream in their world that makes sense to them.
A trigger reading example:

The brown horse jumped over the stone wall and ran through the pasture.

NB: Normally we consider concentration to be a positive thing, however the term 'concentration' here is when the dyslexic is limiting their awareness to that one thing alone. They are so focused on decoding there is no space left to be aware of what they are reading and what it means

How Do I help the Dyslexic Child?

A child’s EQ
(emotional quotient) is more important than their IQ (intelligence quotient)
Limit problem situations and be prepared
Give child responsibilities
Spend time with the child
Find an outlet for success
Talk to teachers
Prepare child to cope with people’s nastiness
Praise child for hard work rather than for grades
Reassure child mistakes are not the end of the world then suggest a strategy to avoid the mistake next time.
Emphasize everyone has strengths and weaknesses NOT just dyslexics
Believe in the student and openly show this belief
Help the child not to let frustrations turn to anger (talk about anger, remind them what they are good at, find an activity in which their anger can be channeled in a positive way)
Teach the child to laugh at themselves
Spend time with other dyslexics
Don’t give empty praise
Slow Down – allow processing time
Keep instructions Simple, in the order you want them done
Model expected end results with WAGOLL
(What A Good One Looks Like)
Sally Shaywitz:
Teaching dyslexics to read follows the same principles as other students, however instruction must be
amplified, intensified and relentless
Dyslexics must master the alphabetic principle but it takes
much more effort and time
A non-dyslexic reader must have 4 or more successful encounters with a new word to be able to read it. Dyslexics however require many more exposures over a much longer period
Alphabetic Principle
- once mastered, child is ready to read.

Awareness that words heard have “bits” in them
Awareness that these “bits” are sounds - Phonemic Awareness
Association of letters on page to spoken words
Realisation written word and spoken words are related

Read Australia - Speech Sounds Pics (SSP)
Although the Code is taught (Phonics) SSP is not a 'Synthetic Phonics Program'.

Code Cracking is used, to move children to independent reading for pleasure (with fluency and comprehension) within less than four terms - whenever they start. The Code is taught in a playful, fun, fast and explicit way, however the approach is based on personalised, meaningful learning - with Teachers as Conductors, and Students as Explorers- and utilises the power of brain plasticity.

Brains are literally wired (or re-wired) for reading and spelling, including Dyslexic brains.

Dyslexics find the following difficult

Rote memorization - need to understand what they learn
Rapid word retrieval
Small function words eg
(non visual words)
Need to be taught writing strategies
Forming letters when writing - a keyboard can be useful

Techniques useful for dyslexics

sub vocalizing as they read

Spelling lists should be made up of words they can read

Guided repeated oral reading (echo reading) extremely beneficial

Provide hands on experiences (magnetic letters or tiles)

Encourage visualisation of concepts
Dyslexic student needs

Extra time
to over-learn
tangible evidence they are improving eg graphing results (compare to themself NOT others)
to know their teacher cares for them
recognition of how hard they are working
Quiet work environment

Steps in breaking the reading code

1. Draw child’s attention to the sounds of language (keep it short and enjoyable)
(i) Develop an awareness of rhyme
(ii) comparing sounds in different words
(iii) manipulating sounds in words
- syllables
- matching initial phonemes in words
- matching final phonemes in words
- identifying initial phonemes in words
- identifying final phonemes in words
- producing a word starting with a given phoneme
- clapping 2 phoneme words
- clapping 3 phoneme words
- take add or take away sounds in a word to produce another
- blending
2. Written letters and linking them to their sounds

practise, practise, practise

(i) introduce letter-sound relationship

- start with one-to-one letter-sound relationships -
direct instruction
- vowels: teach long and short sounds
- practise in isolation
- practise reading in sentences and books
- read silently
- read out loud

(ii) introduce spelling-sound patterns

- digraphs
- practise in isolation
- practise reading in sentences and books
- follow with trigraphs, quadrigraphs
- teach rules eg silent/magic e

(iii) learn sight words

- flash cards
- write them
- Ron Davis says create a visual representation of them
- graduated word lists for drills can be found at www.OxtonHouse.com

- http://learnosaurus.com has some great resources (online shop coming?)
(iv) writing letters and words can help

- but dyslexics can find writing detracts from the decoding thinking process

(v) spelling

- invented phonetic spelling is an indication child is on road to learning to read
- beginning readers often omit vowel sounds
- don’t ask a child to spell a word they can’t read
- link to reading lesson

(vi) the larger a child’s verbal vocab, the larger his comprehension/recognition pool for decoding new words

(vii) Self confidence
- set up reading situations that ensure success ie child knows 19 out of 20 words

Once a child can read most 1 syllable words confidently, move on to teaching strategies for decoding longer words

Look out for the SSP Spelling Piano app - its free
Reading Comprehension Activities

(i) before child reads the book
- purpose for reading
- author/title/cover illustration
- scan book & make predictions
- talk about concepts/words etc that may cause trouble

(ii) whilst child reads the book
- comment on opening sentences
- ask ‘what have we learnt so far?’
- relate story to reader’s existing knowledge
- discuss what, where, when, who & why
- summarize plot

(iii) after child has read book
- summarize plot
- how did it make reader feel?
If a child can’t pronounce a word correctly, they will have difficulty retrieving that word or information associated with that word
Essentials of an effective intervention programme

Systematic and Direct instruction in:-
- phonemic awareness
- phonics
- Sounding out words
- spelling
- reading sight words
- vocabulary and concepts
- Reading comprehension strategies

Practise in applying these skills in reading and writing

Fluency Training

Enriched Language experiences

Ron Davis:

Beware of teaching techniques that condition the student to rote acts rather than understanding and learning.
Dyslexics can’t just learn through acceptance
. They have to understand the concepts involved.

This is because they hang new learning on previous learning. Their knowledge needs to have a solid foundation and framework rather than being built on band-aid solutions.

This being said, dyslexics are very good at taking short cuts eg if they come across an unknown word they will look at first two letters and guess the word. John learnt the bossy e rule so after that every word he didn’t know how to spell he would throw an e in.
Helping with a Dyslexic’s frustrations

Starting school can be very traumatic for a dyslexic. Up to this point they may not realise their brain works differently.

Often the classroom is the first time they are supposed to do something with the mix of ovals and lines they have seen previously and they can’t understand why they see ovals and lines and their peers appear to hear sounds.

Imagine being thrown into a chinese classroom where it is assumed you have the background knowledge and skills to decipher chinese characters.
• Don’t lose patience when he can’t remember words

• Accept it will take them longer to complete certain tasks (esp reading, writing, directions) DON”T make them finish it as extra homework

• Be prepared for them to jump from task to task without finishing them

• Allow child to let off steam after school before settling into homework

• Give child more time to process information (ask them to repeat instructions)

• Dyslexics will often blame their mistakes on others. When they realise it is their mistake help them to recognise it is a symptom of dyslexia and not a reflection of themselves.

• Talk about the emotions they feel – inferiority, anger, jealousy, embarrassment, lonliness/isolation. Steer them towards activities that bring pleasure eg soccer, play station

• Meeting with other dyslexics can be very comforting
Helpful strategies

• Wearing watch on left hand to distinguish left from right

• Using picture labels of objects or associations eg. Sugar vs salt. Salty sea

• Repeat instructions several times (or have them repeat them at least 4 times)

• As you give child instructions, have them make a movie of it in their head then get them to verbalise it back to you

• Surprises and changes in routine can be unsettling so let them know ahead of time what is coming so they can plan for it

• In social situations dyslexics often learn by watching what to do, so let them watch before inviting them to join in

• Dyslexics often don’t get jokes, verbal wit or subtle verbal cues, so if possible avoid using these.

• Encourage dyslexics to compete against themselves rather than others

• Don’t put them in situations where peers are checking their work, they find this embarrassing

• Allow them to sub vocalise as they read

• Making alphabet out of playdough and taking photos

• Echo reading – you read sentence/paragraph then they read same sentence/paragraph

• Hands on experience where possible

• Encourage visualisation of concepts

• Provide extra time to complete tasks

• Keep tangible evidence that they are improving (personal charts, graphs – compare to themselves NOT others)

• Recognise hard work despite results

• Quiet work environment

• Make sure they are pronouncing words correctly – helps with word retrieval

• Spelling mistakes – point out differences between child’s word and dictionary word. NB if word is phonetically correct, point this out and blame English language NOT the child

• Handwriting difficulties – get child to visualise it first, rub out all alternatives then visualise it again the way the teacher wants it written

• When giving instructions use pictorial or object prompts, repeat instructions several times and get child to repeat instructions back)
Reading out loud strategies
(Giving a speech)

Get child to write passage out

Segment the difficult words to help with pronunciation (get child to do segmenting)

Re type passage with segmented words

Practise repeatedly

Have teacher nearby to prompt if necessary


Read, re-read, talk about it, read again
Read along with child
Talk about what has been read
Give child the extra time needed
Read in small doses
Use audio books or multi modal books
watch a film of the book
list/draw new characters as they read
use sticky notes to identify important parts
allow child to use cardboard/ruler to block out other lines as they read
let child know he can take his time
discuss materials, pictures and charts before material is read
if there is a summary – read it first

Time and sequence aids

use visual cues eg.
- calendar = year
- page = month
- row = week
- square = day

use auditory teaching materials

use multi-sensory methods

use pictorial wall charts and make time lines

use magazine pictures to represent content to be put into a sequence


give clear instructions
restate directions
help with organisation
create a timeline for completion of work
use a word processor with spell check
Double Dictation – child dictates to scribe then scribe reads back to child whilst child writes
DRAGON nuance software – child speaks and computer types.
Audio Note – cheap app that takes verbal to print


Arrange spelling lists in an order
Use visual cues eg write ball on a ball
Spell words in sand or with playdough, or letter tiles. Wikki sticks
Write spelling words in the air
Use different coloured pens for frequently misspelled parts of words eg p
Keep a list of frequently misspelt words


Use a calculator when appropriate
Drill in small doses (< 15mins a day)
has a Math Trainer for Multiplication
Master small groups of facts at a time
Teach forward and backward number facts at same time eg. 4+5 and 5+4
Multi-sensory activities
Use concrete manipulative materials
Use grids or graph paper to align number columns
Focus on conceptual understanding – not just rote

Dyslexic friendly fonts

Comic Sans
Century Gothic

(or what they are used to)

- Avoid underlining and
Bold is better
- Clear sans serif fonts (without strokes on end of letters)
100 Ideas For Supporting pupils with Dyslexia
• Small sequenced steps
• Short sentences with simple vocabulary
• Highlight words with colour, bold text and pictures
• When making worksheets they need to be uncluttered, large type, use visuals.
• Use charts and diagrams
• Use mime and gestures
• Add pictures to text
• Label diagrams and charts
• Use games to consolidate vocabulary
• Make use of colour coding
• Use mind maps and spider grams
• Present information in small amounts with frequent repetition and revision
• Present unknown words from a text to student prior to reading text
• Monitor their comprehension as they read – track their thinking. Why did they lose focus
• Reciprocal reading – teacher reads, student reads, teacher summarizes, clarify anything not understood, ask questions, make predictions
• Mapping and webbing – child designs own as they read
• Tape child reading
• Chapter books – ask child to draw a picture of what the chapter was about. Use pictures to help sequence and retell story
• “Duck hand” talking to hear sounds in words
• Visualisation – of words and facts
• Overlearning – repeating a task until student has consolidated the information
• Chunking – placing together information that is similar
• Prepositional Pictionary
• Estimating reading suitability – 5 finger test (Can the student read approximately 100 words of this text without 5 errors)
• PQRST= reading to understand and remember
P- previewing (exploring texts, headings, pictures, 1st and last sentences)
Q- questioning (what hope to learn)
R- reading (reading for relevance)
S- summarizing
T- testing (answering own questions)
• 3 ways to summarize: with words, visualising a mind map, drawing a map
• Teaching mind maps Tony Buzan videos on youtube
Those that Still Slip through the Cracks
Show duck hands clip

Working Memory is
the ability to work with information.

That is the
conscious processing of information

In other words what you do each and everyday, listen to your colleagues on the phone whilst you try to finish off writing an email, listen to the kids telling you about their day whilst trying to read a recipe and cook, or reading a book as you help your child with their homework.

A strong working memory is paramount for success in our daily lives. It allows us to
on a given task, make decisions about it and intentionally ignore anything else. It allows us to
prioritise information
, pay attention to particular tasks,
think fast
, take risks,
make decisions
to new situations, achieve long term goals and stay positive. As you can see a strong working memory is imperative in our fast paced world.
Working memory is the number 1 indicator of learning ability, far greater than IQ.

A strong working memory is the best advantage in school and is related to grades. Knowing a child's working memory is a powerful tool that can be used to change the learning outcomes of children.

10% of students in every mainstream class have a deficit in their working memory.

That is they find
tasks involving focusing
switching activities
multi-layered directions and
timed activities
difficult to undertake.
Parents and Teachers should never assume that a quiet or daydreaming student is lazy or the class clown is simply naughty.

These children may be shutting down or acting out as the tasks they are given are too cognitively demanding.
Understanding the rationale behind behaviours and correctly identifying children is paramount to success in changing learning outcomes.

Understanding instructions is one of the most demanding tasks for a student's working memory. Therefore knowing what is chronologically appropriate is imperative to assisting.

Number of instructions by age

5-6 years of age: 2 instructions

7-9 years of age: 3 instructions

10-12 years of age:4 instructions

13-15 years of age: 5 instructions

16 years of age and over: 6 instructions

Always be mindful of what is chronologically appropriate.

Here are some common traits of children with working memory deficits.

• has difficulty following simple directions.
• cannot remember what is asked.
• has difficulty concentrating.
• is easily distracted in noisy and busy environments.
• is fidgety.
• loses track in complex tasks.
• reserved behaviour/limited participation in class.
• does not complete tasks on time.
• needs constant prompting.
• gives up easily.
• Frequently asks for help.
• has difficulty learning times tables.
• has difficulty memorising formulas.
• has difficulty memorizing equations.
• has difficulty with sequencing and time awareness
• forgets what is read after each individual word.
• forgets what is read after each sentence.
• struggles with comprehension.
• has difficulty 'getting to the point' in writing and tests.
• has difficulty completing tests in strict time limits.
• handwriting is difficult to understand.
• there is a large gap between neatness of handwriting and story telling ability.

You can purchase an Automated Working Memory Assessment (AWMA) that teachers can use to test for Working Memory Deficit.

Costs around $500

Working Memory Rating Scale (Alloway, 2007) is a useful tool to use at end of Year 1

Working Memory & Reading

Working Memory is neuro-biological and
you’ve got what you’ve got!!
It is the ability to work with information. Individuals with poor Working Memory find it difficult to multi task and have difficulties in key aspects of everyday life and typically make very poor academic progress during the school years

Cognitive Load Theory says that as more information comes into the brain then you have to lose some. If there is too much information then the student can’t hold onto it and work with it.
A deficit in working memory has a significant impact on reading acquisition. Reading requires working memory as a child not only has to read the words on the page but needs to recall the information they have read and predict future information. For children with deficits in working memory this process is flawed and the acquisition of reading is a constant progression through numerous remedial programs where improvement does not match the time dedicated to the support process. In other words the child constantly fails.
The three rules for reading intervention in a reading disabled program are:

1. Rehearsal (>4 times)

2. Chunking

3. Pace

Always conduct reading intervention in a location where distraction is minimised. That is decrease the cognitive load of the task for easier transition into long term memory.

How can you help a child with Working Memory Deficit?

1. Decrease the cognitive load – information will decay within 1.5-2 seconds so it needs to be rehearsed

2. To create a successful memory chase – information needs to be
minimum of 4 times
. So sight words for example need to be verbalised at least 4 times to get them into long term memory

3. Pace of learning – too slow and people start to nod off, too fast and you don’t leave enough time to consolidate learning. A heartbeat is a good pace

4. Chunking: c-a-t (3 bits) vs c-at (2 bits). Children with Working Memory Deficit should work with a max of 4 units

5. Do not give time limits – even if there is a time limit do not tell the child as they will focus on that rather than the task at hand

6. Use scaffolding teaching methods – give them the final picture first so they know what they need to produce, then strip it right back.

NB: Even though with dyslexics and children on the autism spectrum we emphasize the use of visuals,
in children with Working Memory Deficit, visuals add to the cognitive load and can be distracting.
So may need to set up a “safe-zone” or a corner in the classroom which minimizes distractions in the classroom.
Rip It Up Reading is a reading program designed for children who are still falling through the cracks after doing Reading Recovery and/or Multilit. It is not time based, the student stays on it until the information is retained.

Total kit costs $3900
(includes 2 days training)
What it's like being dyslexic video
Full transcript