November 30th at 8:29 a.m., my world shook to the core – literally! One moment I was preparing for the day, and the next instant, pitched into total darkness and deafening noise, I frantically took cover, wondering if my house would come crashing down on my family as a magnitude 7.0 earthquake with an epicenter less than 30 miles from my home violently shook for almost a minute. When the ferocious shaking finally ceased, we were blessed with little structural damage and only a few broken pictures and dishes. There were no deaths and only minor injuries throughout the area, but we were reminded just how fragile life is. Hearts, and a sense of confidence and security were shattered, along with falling dishes and cracked walls. More than 7,800 aftershocks since that massive quake continue to cause anxiety, panic, and shatter any sense of security, especially for children.
So what does this have to do with the struggles your child may be facing, struggling with reading or writing because of dyslexia, a learning disability, or other reasons? As I reflect on my own feelings of anxiety, fear and helplessness, I’m reminded of the countless children and youth I’ve worked with, and their parents, that deal with those same feelings every day, and each time their child struggles once again. Everyday, you and your child deal with the “aftershocks” of reading and writing difficulties, but there is hope, and there is help! I think of a fifth grader, who came to me as a nonreader, his mother advocating for the kind of help she knew he needed. He had received intensive interventions in school, but what he needed was multi-sensory, systematic, and explicit teaching that addressed the underlying learning processes keeping him from reading. Using multi-sensory Lindamood-Bell Processes® both for letter-sound association and word recall, along with other needed strategies, he became a reader. He entered middle school with more confidence and hope. I picture a high schooler whose parents sought help for her struggles remembering and understanding much of what she read. After completing an evaluation to determine just what her strengths and needs were, I developed a systematic intervention plan over an eight week summer period, that focused on improving her vocabulary and concept imagery, using the Visualizing/Verbalizing® program, and supplementing with age-appropriate vocabulary, content reading comprehension, and writing strategies. She finshed her last year of high school with greater confidence, fewer struggles, and better grades. Then there is the first grader who had huge difficulties with letter-sound associations, and just a basic understanding of blending and segmenting (putting together and taking apart) sounds, or phonemic awareness. His mother, sharing his struggles and her feelings of helplessness despite working so hard to help him as his classmates moved into reading while he could not connect sounds to letters, broke down. We came up with a specific, multi-sensory plan over a nine month period, with 30-minute sessions because of focus. Using the Lindamood-Bell LiPS Program® for sound-to-letter associations, and the Visualizing/Verbalizing Program® combined with very purposeful oral language development (basic concepts, vocabulary “games”, classifying activities, dialogic reading/book talks, etc.), this first grader made enough gains to move out of intervention groups at his school. He no longer felt helpless and hopeless, and neither did his parents. He became a reader!
If you are seeking this type of help for your child, what should you look for?
- Multi-sensory, Orton Gillingham (OG) based methods and programs that combine seeing, hearing, feeling/touching (kinesthetic), speaking, and writing. This approach needs to be clear, straightforward and systematic. Using multiple pathways to help struggling readers learn can actually build “new” pathways in the brain!
- Help is based on a comprehensive evaluation that details a learner’s strengths and specific areas of need. The evaluator needs to have the knowledge and experience to take those results and develop an instructional plan that works in a timely manner. It also means modifying and changing as the learner’s needs change.
- Your child feels comfortable and secure in the place they are getting help, whether it be in school, face-to-face, or online in the comfort and security of their own home without travel time.
- Your child develops trust in the interventionist, sensing that they care and are positive, and begin to feel success. You, as a parent, feel the interventionist has your child’s best interest at heart, is a good resource for your questions and concerns, and keeps you informed of your child’s progress.
If you would like more detailed information on the specific, muti-sensory interventions that could make a difference in your child’s life, please click on the link below, and please feel free to look around my website for more information and resources. In future posts, I’ll be going into more depth on the reading and writing learning processes, giving tips on how you, as a parent, can help your child. So check back often, and fill out the form below for your free comprehension guide.
You are not alone on this journey to help your child through the constant “aftershocks” and in to the confidence and security we all want for our children!