The Dyslexia Diagnosis


Navigating the world of information on dyslexia can be overwhelming.


You’ve just received the news from the educational psychologist that your child has dyslexia. Is your head spinning? Are you wondering where to start, and how to help your poor struggling child? This child who feels dumb or calls themselves stupid. This child who can’t spell their way out of a paper bag. You wonder how they are ever going to make it in a world that relies so much on the printed word.


Your wonderful educational psychologist explains to you that your child should begin tutoring right away with an Orton-Gillingham based reading program. Ok, great! You have a direction to go in.


But wait? How do you find someone to teach your child? Can’t the school do that? After all, you pay taxes! They should be able to give your child what they need to be successful! Unfortunately, they can’t. I’ll share more about that later.


The educational psychologist recommends that you call an Orton-Gillingham certified tutor in your area. Not fully understanding why the school can’t meet your child’s needs you resolve to get your child help no matter what it takes out of your pocket. The list of tutors is VERY short. You start calling around.


The first thing on your mind is (and let’s be honest here) how much is this going to cost? You live pay check to pay check as it is, but you want to do what is best for your child. And secretly you wonder if this is really going to work anyway.


Does Your Child Have Auditory Issues?


There are two types of students we see at WNY Dyslexia Specialists, LLC. The first is the dyslexic child with no auditory issues. They can easily distinguish between sounds and hang on to those sounds in their auditory memory. They are ready to begin an Orton-Gillingham reading intervention.


But what if your child has been diagnosed with central auditory processing disorder, or they struggle to distinguish between sounds? Can they start in an Orton-Gillingham based program? From my experience, no, they cannot. If they try, they will likely make extremely slow progress or no progress at all.


We chose to use the Barton Reading & Spelling System which is the only Orton-Gillingham based system that requires students to pass a student screening to begin the program.


Orton-Gillingham Won’t Work for A Child With Auditory Discrimination and Auditory Memory Issues


This is important! Why? It’s important because starting an Orton-Gillingham based program with auditory memory or discrimination issues will be a very large waste of your time and your hard-earned money. The auditory issues MUST be corrected first. 

Your child may learn to read without correcting the auditory discrimination and auditory memory issues, but they will struggle mightily with spelling as spelling requires the ability to process sounds, match them to the correct symbols, follow the appropriate rules, and spell the word correctly.


If you chose to begin in an Orton-Gillingham (OG) system for a child with uncorrected auditory issues, your child will struggle. They might be able to make some progress without glaring issues, but it will become overwhelming and confusing very quickly.


Make sure your child is receiving the right tutoring/reading intervention. Be sure that they do not have any auditory discrimination or memory issues before they begin an Orton-Gillingham program. I can’t stress the importance of this enough.


If your child had early intervention for speech or an IEP for speech-language, it is highly likely that they will need a phoneme sequencing program before they begin Orton-Gillingham. I see this quite often with the students who seek enrollment in our program. Auditory discrimination and memory issues must be corrected first. Our student screening process can tell you where your child needs to start.


At WNY Dyslexia Specialists, we offer the Foundation in Sounds program. We see an incredible amount of success with the Foundation in Sounds program with our students who need this type of program. This program can be completed in as little as 6 weeks, and it creates a very firm foundation on which to build the other reading skills.


Make sure your tutor or reading specialist can tell you if your child is ready to begin an Orton-Gillingham based program or not. If your child has been in an Orton-Gillingham based program and isn’t making progress, it could be due to auditory discrimination or auditory memory issues. It is imperative to find a tutor who understands this!

During the consultation and program screening meetings, I find that about 60-70% of individuals, both children, and adults, cannot pass the Barton Student Screening Part C and need to begin in Foundation in Sounds.


Do you need help figuring out where to start? If you are new to the world of dyslexia either because you are a parent of a newly diagnosed child or you are a teacher looking to help students, please consider this vital bit of information. It really will make a difference for people with dyslexia.

Does this bring up any questions for you? Let me know in the comments below!

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