Dyslexia: More than Reversals

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Dyslexia: More than ReversalsDr. Jennifer WilliamsDyslexia Specialistjwilliamsconsulting@yahoo.com

My Background13 years in K-2 general education classrooms2 years in dyslexic classroom *grades 3-4Currently work with small groups and teachers

What is Dyslexia? by Dr. Kelli Sandman-Hurley


What causes dyslexia?Genetic component- same gene variants have been found in multiple countriesUp to 20% of the population- on a continuumDisruption in the communication pathways of the brain


Common Early CharacteristicsSpeech delays/ problemsUnable to recite nursery rhymesDifficulty hearing and producing rhymesDifficulty learning letter names and soundsDifficulty repeating complex phonetic words (spaghetti, physicist, etc.)Difficulty segmenting and blending soundsPoor phonological memory (trouble remembering more than 2 or 3 units in sequence at a time)

Common Elementary School-Age CharacteristicsAll of the ones before PLUS

Difficulty decoding wordsTrouble telling left from right (can cause reversals)Difficulty with sequencing- understanding terms like before and after Difficulty reading and spelling sight wordsSpelling problems (extra letters, missing sounds)Difficulty remembering complex phonograms (ou, ai, ch, th, ay, etc.)Poor fluency - slow, choppy readingStruggle memorizing factsDifficulty organizing thoughts into written form

Betsy story- decoding speed, trouble with compNon-dominant tracing while listening to an article about dyslexia- stress on cognitive loadWriting like dyslexic- non-dominant hand sentences on plain paperRound robin story telling without the letter NAuditory processing- click on ear


FactsAffects boys and girls equally

Can co-occur with other issues such as ADHD, Sensory Integration Disorder, Autism, Giftedness, Auditory Processing Disorder, and Visual Perception difficulties

Dyslexia can be officially diagnosed as early as 5 years old

Dyslexia is a clinical diagnosis- NOT medical. It is diagnosed by trained psychologists and speech pathologists.

Early intervention can rewire the brain and CLOSE the reading gap

Waiting is the WORST thing you can do for a dyslexic child

How do dyslexic children learn?Multisensory VAKTStoriesVisualsRepetition

Strong emphasis on phonological awareness, phonics, and spelling rules

Building a solid foundationStudents need to understand the segmental nature of language.Story Sentence Word Syllables Onset/Rime

Individual Phonemes


Onset and Rime (This is where children learn to hear and produce rhyme)

Use motor activities to activate alternate pathways in the brain


Segmenting Onset and RimeWhat do I have if I take off the /b/ from ball?

/b//all/= all

Use this to help students learn how to produce rhyme.

Phoneme BlendingStart with 2 sounds, then move to moreUse continuants first (vowels, f, h, l, m, n, r, s, v, z)You say the segmented sounds of the word, student finds the picture match

/n/ ///r/ // /t//f/ /l/ // /g/

Phoneme segmentationTake it down your arm allows for a kinesthetic connection AND crosses midline



Learning LettersMulti-sensory Structured Approach:Identify the letter by the text features and shape clay (analyze vs. memorize)Feel the sound of the letter in the mouthAttach letter name to a pictureUse manipulatives (letter cards, magnetic letters)Write the letter first, do large movements from the shoulderSay it as you write it




Blending Slide










Working for fluency and automaticity IN MATH and READINGWhat quantity does 5 represent?

What quantity does 63 represent?

Math fact fluency- timed drillsWhat sound does s represent?

What sound does ai or ay represent?

Phonogram fluency

Learning short vowel sounds



Naughty vowelsVC


up, sat, helmet she, no, table VCV

like, tiger, riding Hoping - hopping

What skills must you know to spell this word?AIMWhy cant it be AYM or AM?What if your mind couldnt hold the picture of a word? How would you know how to spell it?

Word Sorts

Multisensory/ Memory techniques

How do dyslexic children learn?Multisensory VAKTStoriesVisualsRepetition

Strong emphasis on phonological awareness, phonics, and spelling rules

Key Points to Remember